Kundai's article on the Western Cape CCoH training

When CABSA invited me to attend the Churches Channels of Hope Facilitator’s Training recently held in Cape Town at the Helderberg Community Church I was sceptical. I did not see the bigger picture of the workshop. For me I thought it was just one of those workshops were people are educated on HIV similar to curriculums of matric.

This however turned to be a total opposite of what I had in mind. The involvement to me personally was life changing. The approach, which the workshop taught us to be channels of hope in our faith communities, was totally a different and a comprehensive approach. For me it was not only more of absorbing information but also to have some discussions on the realities which affect individuals and our communities in the journey with HIV.

For me, the most outstanding issues throughout the training was people who gave testimonies about their experience and journey with HIV, the importance of faith communities in HIV prevention and how powerful the church is in HIV prevention and the stigma around HIV. I have learned that we tend to stigmatise people because we do not have enough knowledge and information. Most of us in our faith communities think that we know about HIV but the actual fact is we have little knowledge and information.

Correct and accurate information on HIV was given in the simplistic form, supported with practical activities that brought in more understanding of HIV in a broader sense. The workshop equipped us with facilitation skills on how to facilitate HIV discussions in our faith based communities. It was my first experience to be exposed to a programme of such an intensity were people were willing to share their life stories and their journeys.

The CCoH facilitators training also gave me the opportunity to learn from my fellow trainees their experience with HIV in their faith communities through sharing their stories and activities, which I found very similar to my community as well. Regardless of our race, gender, economic status, origin and ethnicity HIV affects our communities and us all.

Combining the information that I now have. And looking at the experiences some of the people in poverty-stricken communities in countries such as Rwanda, DRC, Zambia and Malawi (their efforts in HIV prevention) had, there is no excuse for me and my faith community not to rise and take up the challenge that is bringing light into the darkness created by HIV as a channel of hope. Looking at the resources, I have at my disposal I will have failed my community if I do not facilitate the lessons I have learned from the training.

A big thank you to the facilitators Aneleh and Clive, trainees and CABSA at large!!!!!!!!!

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