96654 HOPE for AIDS Prevention Programme

RSS

Project Vision: To reach the youth of the Africa Evangelical Church (AEC) in Malawi, and the wider community, with AIDS prevention messages in a way which is relevant and will lead to a broader understanding and an increased personalization of HIV/AIDS issues. This will then result in genuine behaviour change related to HIV/AIDS through an increased desire to live a godly lifestyle. These changes will lead to less pre-marital sex amongst the youth, increased faithfulness in marriage and stronger family relationships.

Christian Marriage & Family Life

In July we held the 4th CMFL training this time for 21 attendees from the Blantyre churches (pictured). Despite various challenges with power cuts, facilitators being sick & losing their voice, 3 couples pulling out at the last minute for various reasons including funerals of family members, we are trusting that God will bring fruit from their time of learning new counseling skills, grappling once again with how the church can address non-biblical cultural practices, and discussing how they can strengthen their own marriages in order to be more effective role models. Do pray for them as they return to teach their peers as we’ve found that urban churches face a big challenge to find a suitable forum to discuss these issues due to erratic attendance at mid-week groups – pray for creative solutions to this problem so that they can share what they’ve learned.

After the CMFL training we were encouraged to hear that the Women’s annual conference was also discussing cultural practices and the National AEC youth conference had sessions on relationships & sexual purity and to see how God is bringing the same messages in different contexts – we pray it will all work together to bring a groundswell of change. 

New youth HIV ministries

After a lengthy process of helping various youth peer educators develop well thought through proposals for self-sustaining on-going ministries, Jacky & Chisoni headed to the lakeshore last month to meet 4 groups who would receive their start up equipment &/or funding. What an encouragement to hear stories of their personal spiritual growth, youth groups quadrupling in size, people leaving traditional Nyau practices and changing behaviours, youth joining the church & being baptized at the June misasa (weekend camp) meeting, wonderful synergy between the sports & HIV ministries, and I was really encouraged as one group explained how they would use their IGA business as their ministry & not just a means to get money.  Please pray that these ministries will indeed be self-sustaining so that more & more youth will see the relevance of the bible to their daily lives and choose each day to live in godly ways that prevent the spread of HIV.

Today for Tomorrow… pilot projects feedback

Before ‘rolling out’ to more projects we have been collecting some helpful feedback from the 5 pilot groups using the Today for Tomorrow materials in after school kids clubs. Both parents & headmasters have obsesrved a distinct change in kids behaviour particularly in terms of respecting one another and not showing discrimination. The albino kids are no longer being called ‘million’ (because albino body parts are sold for millions of kwacha for traditional ‘medicine’), boys are no longer lifting girls dresses as girls learn when they can say ‘no’ to inappropriate touch, truancy has dropped as the kids take on board the importance of education for their own future. The AEC children’s co-ordinator has finished his first draft of the Chichewa materials and is now developing his strategy for the next phase of trainings and implementation including good mechanisms which enable schools & churches to work well together in support of this kind of program.

Prayer requests

Praise for the growth in youth groups which have now received extra support for their ministries – pray that those starting IGA’s will manage their seed funding with integrity.

Pray for those that attended the CMFL training in July will find effective ways to teach the materials in their congregations & communities.

Pray for wisdom in coming up with a good strategy for training & implementing the Today for Tomorrow program more widely.

Activities of the last 6 months

The prevention work during the last 6 months has continued to be primarily through supporting HIV/AIDS activities within the AEC Youth Department. Main activities over the last 6 months have been:

Follow Up of Youth Peer AIDS Educators in Lakeshore/Northern Region: In the last 6 months follow up visits have been made to peer educators in both the lakeshore & Mzuzu areas (in June & Sept). We had been working with the 7 churches listed below to develop their ideas for on-going ministries and they consequently received support to continue those ministries as follows:

Kamzanga         The peer educators will continue to do dramas, conduct bibles studies & HIV teaching for 8-13 yr olds meeting at Vindolo ground for at least 6 months. A ‘start up’ pack of bible, football & pump, radio, books for youth to read, & bible study materials to assist in attracting the kids to attend and have good teaching materials was provided.

Lingodzi           The peer educators will work to strength their youth group using sport ministry incorporating both general bible teaching plus teaching that relates to HIV/AIDS, sexual purity etc. A ‘start up kit’ including a bible, some bible study materials & football/netball/pump was provided.

Mtosa – The peer educators will continue to develop their sports ministry but also use a small bean selling income generating activity as a vehicle for connecting with some local youth and ‘keeping them busy’ and out of trouble. A ‘start up kit’ including a bible, some bible study materials, football/netball/pump & seed funding for the bean selling IGA was provided.

Chbango - The peer educators will continue to develop their sports ministry but also use a small fish selling income generating activity as a vehicle for connecting with some local youth. A ‘start up kit’ including a bible, some bible study materials, football/netball/pump & seed funding for the fish selling IGA was provided.

Luwinga, Timalala, Zombwe – each of these 3 churches were given a ‘start up kit’ including a bible & a variety of bible study materials to assist them to strength their youth group which would then be a greater witness in the community for choosing to live godly lives.

Mainstreaming HIV Prevention into Other AEC ministries

HIV/AIDS ministry with children using Today for Tomorrow: A third ‘Today for Tomorrow’ program was started in the Sankhulani area. Some encouraging feedback has been gained from these pilots especially relating to the benefits of close co-operation between the church volunteers & the teachers so that there is good continuity.  The AEC Children’s Co-ordinator has completed a first draft of the Today or Tomorrow lessons into Chichewa for wider use in mid-week children’s ministries. This will now be reviewed and form the basis for rolling out the program in other locations in the next 6-12 months.

Christian Marriage & Family Life (CMFL) Training: A week’s training was held in July for Blantyre Area Council churches funded by HOPE for AIDS. The training comprised 3 days of biblical teaching on marriage & family life, facilitated by FLAEM (as in previous trainings) but with the new element of including 2 days of Christian counselling skills to enable pastors & CMFL peer educator to be more able to offer one-on-one counselling to those struggling with family issues in their churches & communities. In hindsight it was perhaps too ambitious to squeeze this amount of content in the time available so we will review the program for any future training. The AEC Head of the Christian Education Dept has been following up the attendees to encourage them to start teaching in the churches but as previously we have seen this is a bit challenge in the Blantyre churches who struggle to find suitable regular meeting times for such teaching sessions.

Future Plans for next 6 months

Develop strategy for rolling out Today for Tomorrow program i more locations.

Folow up of churches who attended the CMFL training in July.

Follow up of the peer educators who received IGA seed funding.

Project background

In Malawi, the rate of new HIV infections is highest amongst the youth (15-25 years old), with over 83,000 new infections per year in total. AIDS prevention amongst the youth is therefore vital in stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS. In 2002, SIM Malawi and their partner Church, Africa Evangelical Church (AEC), prepared a country-specific strategy for their HOPE for AIDS projects to undertake home-based care, orphan care, prevention activities and leadership training. Following the success of the Songs & Drama Competition (Project #MW96350), completed in 2007 as part of the prevention activities, the strategy was reviewed and it was agreed to scale up the prevention activities over the next three-year period. This follow-on project will continue with more AIDS-awareness events but also link them in to a youth peer education programme using appropriate literature in Chichewa in order to provide the conditions conducive to real behaviour change. These activities will be supplemented with some special seminars on Family Life & AIDS Education aiming at the parents of the youth.


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