Pastors, supervisors, teachers, counselors, chaplains and youth from primary schools, universities, theological institutions, and churches met from 23-24 May at the Theresia Residency in Togo to reflect and deepen their knowledge on masculinities, femininities and HIV.
Organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy, discussions were guided by handbooks developed by WCC, “Positive Masculinities and Femininities, Handbook for Adolescents and Young People in Faith Communities in Nigeria” and “Treatment Adherence and Faith Healing in the Context of HIV and AIDS in Africa.”
In a “safe space” for candid communication, young people, adolescents and adults shared their stories and feelings, and deepened their bonds.
Dr Christian Mouala, country director fo UNAIDS in Togo, said: “Whenever I receive correspondence from WCC, I am always excited as I have witnessed for the past four years since I arrived in Togo, the great work they are doing with faith communities and I consider them as a key ally in the HIV response. I also commit to share the outcome with my colleagues from the UN agencies.”
Prof. Vincent Pitche, national coordinator of the Togo AIDS Commission, said: “I confess that God is doing miracles in the sense that WCC has helped us in articulating theologically issues of treatment adherence and faith healing in their new publications, and through their daily work, they have contributed to the reduction of the new infection rate in the country.”
The guides were publicly launched at the end of the opening ceremony and shared with officials who committed to make good use of them, and who expressed delight to have the texts available for their constituencies.