Progressio Trustee Revd Ijeoma Ajibade reflects on a recent meeting at Lambeth Palace with other organisations working on HIV and AIDS.
My thoughts for the day can be summarised in three words reflection, reassessment and reality.
Looking back at how far we've come
The conference was an opportunity to reflect and remember the challenges of the past thirty years. It was an opportunity to take stock and look at the different challenges that we have faced and the contribution that FBOs (faith-based organisations) have made to the global response to HIV and AIDS. This is very important. When the pandemic first started, the church was caught up in judgment and later silence. Yesterday showed that we are clearly at the forefront of the HIV response, along with other sectors of global civil society. We have a vital role to play along side secular agencies and we must increase our efforts and expand and strengthen our work.
Dreams for tomorrow
It also provided an opportunity to reflect on what we wish to achieve and to dream about the future, a future with zero infections, zero deaths and zero discrimination. This is easy to say, but will not be easy to achieve. We were able to recognise that given the past gains, the future dream is possible to realize but will take hard work and determination. We must scale up our response.
Reassessing the way we work
We need to reassess. We need to fully understand, not only the challenges ahead, but also the climate that we are now working under and what this will require of us. The global financial pressures mean that we have to demonstrate that we are making an impact. Even though some of our work may not lend itself to statistical measurement we have to find other ways of telling the story about the impact that we are having on the some of the poorest people of the world.
Listening to the poorest and telling their stories
We have to enable them to tell their stories. We also need to ensure that we fully understand what funders want of us and it was helpful to listen to the presentations from DFID and from the Global Fund. There is also a challenge for us as FBO’s to look at how we can encourage the corporate world to get involved in our work. Understanding this new environment and the demands its makes upon us is vital to our efforts to intensify and sustain our work.
Justice for the vulnerable and invisible
We also need look deeply at the reality. HIV is not an easy issue to respond to and the challenges are immense, but the reality of the work that we do is simply justice. We are seeking justice for and with people who are vulnerable and often invisible. These are real people living real lives and we are bringing hope and real change through our work. We are alleviating suffering and difficulty for many. Recognising this in the work we do will give us the vision and strength to continue this work and enable us to move forward.
Photo: Rev Ajibade and other delegates to the conference. Credit: Lambeth Palace