A Church that Cares for Its Youth in the Midst of HIV and AIDS. 8/8/2017

Published by BLOGOIKOUMENE

The old chapel of the United Evangelical Church "Anglican Community in Angola" in the neighborhood of Golf 1 in Luanda turned out to be quite small for the large number of students from the church's district school. 200 of them had come to attend a workshop on "HIV and AIDS amongst Adolescents and Youth: The Church´s Responsibility" on 2 August, organized by the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy (WCC-EHAIA) team.

All of them were thirsty to learn about HIV and AIDS, sexual violence, teenage pregnancies and gender-based violence. Their teachers, too, stayed from the beginning up to the end because they wanted to get fresh insights pertaining to the young people committed to them for education so that they may grow healthier in mind, body and intellectually.

The WCC-EHAIA staff meet the youngsters at their schools in order to teach and train them to confront the challenges that the young people are facing, especially on the issues of HIV and AIDS. Sexual violence in Luanda is on the rise. It causes teenage pregnancies and even deaths, as most rape victims when they discover that they are pregnant seek abortion from backyard midwives. As the midwives lack proper health training, some of these girls have lost their lives.

EHAIA decided to offer training to the Anglican College students in Golf 1  from age 14 to 18. They are particularly at risk of HIV infections also due to the phenomena of "sugar daddies": older men who exploit the economic harsh reality that Angola is undergoing at the moment to lure under-age girls into a sexual relationship with promises of financial support and gifts.

The very interactive workshop was a moment of reconnecting to the basic Christian value of love and care for one other. The students, two-thirds of them girls, could not stop asking questions. The parish pastor as well as the school director Álves Abílio Alexandre were extremely grateful that young pupils of their college had this opportunity to hear from the "experienced people" what they always learn "wrongly" from the streets or through their peers. "This was a good exposure and a memorable day to our students at the Anglican College in the sense that they came across with the green grass and calm water of knowledge. Thank you EHAIA for this opportunity", said Pastor Rodrigues Pedro Banza at the end of the workshop.

I am glad how much interest the students showed in the teaching. At one point five of them stood up and said that this was their first time to hear teaching of this nature, and asking us to please come back before this academic year ends. I strongly believe that it is our responsibility to pass on the torch of testimony to the next generation of believers in Christ Jesus if we want to be all on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. This pilgrimage calls upon each one of us to respond, and in the case of HIV and AIDS among adolescents and young adults we are required to go an extra mile through good deeds to others.

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