1.Why does PLAEP have Local Church Partnerships?
It’s now over 20 years when Zambia began facing the challenge of HIV/AIDS. Interventions to combat the scourge have been numerous, yet the challenge still persists. Infection rates in Kitwe are nearly 24%, the second highest rate in the country from Livingstone. Orphaned children due to AIDs have increased. In a population of 13 million, over 800,000 are AIDS orphans. The loss of a parent to AIDS leaves most children helpless and hopeless. Children have been destitute and turned to drug abuse, prostitution, violence and dropping out of school. Families that have lost the income earner to HIV have similar social-economic challenges.
The HIV challenge coupled with the national economic challenges has exacerbated the social economic challenges in the Copperbelt Province. Poverty, disease and dependence have become unbearable. Beer drinking, other drugs abuse, illiteracy and gender based violence are common place in poor communities that PLAEP works in.
In confronting the root causes and effects of HIV/AIDS, PLAEP aims for many strong Church Partnerships. PLAEP recognizes the Church as a critical social support in communities that need to strengthen the knowledge, skills, confidence, leadership and resources to drive the fight against HIV. In addition, the Church has a biblical mandate and moral obligation to support and care for the ‘neighbors.’
2. What is a PLAEP Local Church Partnership PLAEP?
Through Church Partnerships, PLAEP desires to help churches explore and develop HIV prevention tools that emphasize building knowledge, character and value systems that bring about sustainable behavioral changes. In this, we aim: (1) To develop and distribute a faithfulness manual for adults; (2) To provide HIV prevention and positive living skills through adult peer education; (3) To create safe spaces for discussion and improvement of positive parenting skills; (4) To promote sexual abstinence for the youth and faithfulness for the adults in the prevention of HIV infection.
Currently, PLAEP actively works with 10 churches in our target areas of Musonda, Bulangililo, Ipusukilo and Chipata communities. In order to effectively address HIV/AIDS in these places, PLAEP has trained 25 church leaders who are in the communities carrying out outreach on HIV/AIDS information. The main focus of the HIV information addresses specific risks and vulnerabilities to HIV infection such as economic vulnerability, gender based violence, alcohol and drug abuse, stigma and discrimination, uptake of biomedical services, violence against children and women, that are prevalent in PLAEP target communities.
PLAEP has pioneered the formation of Psycho Education Groups (PEGs) through misuse of alcohol and other drugs does not only predispose people to HIV infection through unprotected early and multiple sexual activities but also brings about other effects such as prostitution, fights, vandalism, as well as various forms of violence, crime and death. Since PLAEP recognizes the family as best placed to guide children, the community facilitators consistently provide information to households to improve parent/child communication.
3. What are the next steps for Local Church Partnerships?
- Develop a Faithfulness manual in HIV prevention for adults
- Continue Psycho-Educational Groups (PEGS) and Safe From Harm (parent/child communication) trainings
- Train Church leaders in Gender and Start Awareness Support Action (SASA): SASA is an approach aimed at raising and stimulating awareness and action in people to deal with the oppressive issues of gender based violence
4. What is the expected impact of Local Church Partnerships?
It is expected that at the end of the Local Church Partnership project, the participating churches will be recognised by their communities as leaders in addressing spiritual as well as social-economic challenges and concerns of the people that will contribute to people having productive, quality, healthy, non-risk lifestyles.
Contact: Prisca Kambole, Executive Director
Office located at Superior Technologies, Silicon House Annex, Kantanta Street, Kitwe, Zambia