The group was hosted by the Angola Council of Christian Churches. Rev. Deolinda Dorcas Teca, general secretary of the council, said: “We have been a member of WCC since 1976, and this visit serves to strengthen the relationship; we are so happy that you could join us.”
The group met with representatives of WCC member churches in Angola, including the Evangelical Baptist Church, Evangelical Congregational Church, Evangelical Pentecostal Mission, Evangelical Reformed Church, and others.
The agenda also included a visit to the Camama hospital, which performs fistula surgeries. Dr Manuela Mendes, explained that, at the hospital, “we aim to have a focal point in each province to address obstetric fistula.”
The group met with minister of Social Action, Family, and the Promotion of Women Ana Paula da Silvia do Sacramento Neto.
Also speaking with the group was Archbishop Filomeno Nascimento do Viera dias, prelate of the Catholic Church and Archbishop of Luanda, who said: “Everything that affects women, affects men.”
Additionally, the group visited the Municipal Family Counselling Centre, non-governmental organizations, and an orphanage.
Sharing the faith
“The purposes of the visit was to visit our member churches and ecumenical partners, and to learn more about the situation of obstetric fistula in the country and advocate with churches for its prevention, introducing the WCC Guide for Churches for the Prevention of Obstetric Fistula which has recently been published in Portuguese,” said Jennifer Philpot-Nissen, WCC programme executive for Human Rights and Disarmament. “Angola will go through its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the UN Human Rights Council in 2025, and the delegation carried out a workshop with women, men, and youth to explain the UPR and seek their inputs for a WCC report to be submitted to the UN in June.”
Local women sharing their faith through song and dance, offered words of wisdom and encouragement to overcome adversity, then expressed their concerns about gender-based violence, particularly domestic violence. “Poverty and single parenting are also key concerns despite the high rates of employment (76% to 79% among men),” said Rev. Nicole Ashwood, WCC programme executive of Just Community of Women and Men. “The team shared ideas for combatting and raising more awareness on incidences of sexual and gender-based violence in Angola.”
Conceição Gonçalves Nhanga, director of the Municipal Family Counselling Centre added that “the aim is to address the needs of the whole family, not just the victims.”
She explained how the centre takes a holistic approach to addressing the issues, involving the children, perpetrator, and family.