South Africa: Monday’s Visits

On Monday, February 25, we learned about ministries responding to HIV/AIDS related to BADISA, a joint ministry of the Dutch Reformed Church (synods of the Western Cape and Southern Cape) and the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (Cape Synod). BADISA combines the social service programmes of the two churches and works to help congregations engage in efforts to provide relief and alleviate poverty. These meetings provided an opportunity for Janet Guyer, PC(USA) Regional AIDS Consultant for Southern Africa, to nurture connections with these churches.

Three ministries were highlighted:

Ubuntu works in the Barcelona area, an informal settlement in the township of Guguletu. Ubuntu works to support families and provide a safety net around vulnerable children. Their program includes Breakfast Clubs that provide meals, After School care (where food is provide), and Saturday support groups for children. Ubuntu also provides home visits and HIV/AIDS support groups. They help people get to clinics, help people monitor the use of medication, and assist people with issues related to interactions with authorities. Key leadership is provided by Cobi de Bonte, a volunteer from the Netherlands. She is working to develop new leaders, and group members Caroline, Margariet, and Veronica envision the day when they fill that role.

Sothemba (We Will Hope) AIDS Action, is the largest HIV/AIDS programme related to BADISA. Its basic message is at once simple and profound: “live life with hope.” Growing out of hope rooted in Jesus Christ, Sothemba encourages those people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS to see the diagnosis, not as a death sentence, but as the beginning of a new life. The fifty counselors who work at Sothemba seek to provide and nurture that hope. As well as the counseling ministry, Sothemba works to provide practical services to those infected as well as those affected by HIV/AIDS. The organization endeavors to transform the prejudice, discrimination, and stigma attached to HIV/AIDS. Efforts to empower women personally and economically are key to Sothemba’s ministry.

CABSA (Christian Aids Bureau for Southern Africa) describes its ministry as being a match with the churches as the candle. CABSA wants to sensitize governing bodies, congregations, and Christians about the AIDS pandemic and mobilize them to become involved and make a positive difference. CABSA maintains an online resource and information service. They provide a weekly Bible message based on the Revised Common Lectionary. Workshops, training, and mentoring of leaders are offered. CABSA creates and distributes resources for World AIDS Day and AIDS Candlelight Memorial Sunday.

We visited a public hospital in Tyreberg and Sothemba’s offices.

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