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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

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The African Religious Leaders Assembly on Children and HIV/AIDS – Africa

From June 10-12, 2002, 120 senior religious leaders from across Africa (25% of whom are women) convened in Nairobi, Kenya on behalf of the Hope for African Children Initiative. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the impact of HIV/AIDS on children and to launch a continent-wide campaign to further engage religious communities in efforts to expand care and to reduce the stigma often associated with AIDS. Specifically, the Assembly was convened to galvanise the commitment and engagement of African religious leaders on behalf of children and to encourage them to mobilise their entire religious communities to:

  • Encourage social mobilisation of all levels to act on behalf of children and families affected by HIV/AIDS
  • Reduce stigma by confronting and breaking down the social shame of HIV/AIDS that is a major obstacle to effective action to address the needs of children
  • Promote the rights of children, as expressed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and
  • Engage political, traditional, civil society, and business leaders in efforts to work on behalf of children affected by HIV/AIDS.

Topics such as prevention, treatment, and institutional versus community-led care for orphans were addressed from a theological perspective.

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Main Communication Strategies
Participants, who were chosen to ensure religious, geographic, and gender diversity, sought concrete support from the G8 leaders convening in late June in Kananaskis, Canada. They also organised the delivery of a plan of action to combat stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, as well as the role of faith-based groups in context of Global Trust Fund implementation strategy. There was also a multi-religious declaration of the moral commitment to address the needs of children in the face of HIV/AIDS and the organisation of a Plan of Action for a campaign led by religious leaders at the pan-African and national level to engage religious communities in the fight to reduce stigma and to promote proven approaches to meet the rights and needs of children. A 30-member African Religious Leaders Council was elected to provide ongoing leadership in the implementation of the plan and for the involvement of religious organisations in the Hope for African Children Initiative.

Development Issues
Children, HIV/AIDS, Rights.

Hope for African Children, CARE, Plan International, Save the Children, the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa, the World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Letter sent from Beatrice M. Spadacini to The Communication Initiative on May 8, 2002.

For more information, contact:
Beatrice M. Spadacini
Communications and Public Affairs Manager
Hope for African Children Initiative
1730 N Lynn St., Suite 600
Arlington, VA 22209
Tel.: (703) 807-1264, ext. 107
Fax: (703) 807-1274
Cell: (202) 425-6551