The theme of the 2014 World AIDS Day is
“Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation"
As Canadian Baptists, this is our tenth anniversary of the Guardians of Hope (GOH) program, our international response to HIV and AIDS. Since the program began in 2004, thousands of orphans and vulnerable children affected and infected by HIV and AIDS have experienced love and support from families and local churches that believe that faith in Christ calls us to be a part of bringing hope and healing into a broken world.
HIV and AIDS is more than a medical crisis. It is also a social and emotional experience that profoundly affects the lives and futures of millions of people.Over the past thirty years, UNAIDS is estimates that 17 million children have lost one or both parents due to AIDS -- 90 percent of these children live in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In addition, today in Africa 3.4 million children under the age of 15 years are living with HIV.
Over the past few years, AIDS seems to be falling off the radar of world media, but the reality is that the crisis isn’t over. According to a recent report of PEPFAR: "The social effects of HIV and AIDS make the millions of HIV-affected children highly vulnerable, as they are more likely to be victims of abuse, live in institutional care or on the street, and engage in hazardous and/or exploitive labor.”
These children live with high risk of abuse, school-drop-out, and psychosocial distress. Adolescent girls affected by AIDS orphanhood, for example, are six times more likely of entering prostitution than peers in healthy families.
Erica introducing Faith Holwyn and Brenda Halk
in the opening session of the CBM
Guardians of Hope Leadership Conference
The response of Canadian Baptist Ministries and our Church partners in Kenya, Rwanda, Angola and India has been to help families and caregivers enfold HIV and AIDS orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). Much of the past decades ministry has been to support and help thousands of these caregivers as they love, protect and nurture OVC in their communities.
It is now widely recognized by government and non-governmental agencies that this approach works and is in the best interest of children: “Nurturing families are critical to children’s lifelong health and wellbeing, including their prospects for living HIV-free, or positively with HIV”. Families are the first line of support and defines for children.
Along with nutritional support, education support, and household income strengthening, the Guardians of Hope program has been helping churches invest in caregivers themselves.
This year, as we mark our tenth anniversary of the Guardians of Hope, Canadian Baptist Ministries is introducing new initiatives to strengthen the spiritual, emotional, and social support of the Guardians and the children they are caring for.
This week, Guardians of Hope leaders from across our African partners, have been training on the “Groups of Hope” approach, an Eight Session program that helps people walk with God through times of distress and anxiety. Author and facilitator Faith Holwyn has been with us the past few days training our team on facilitating groups of hope sessions within the Guardians of Hope projects. We believe this will be a valuable tool in deepening faith and healing among caregivers and children alike.
Faith and Brenda facilitating a Groups of Hope Session
In addition to the "Group of Hope" initiative, we are excited to launch Kamp Tumaini (Camp Hope). The first four camps will be in August 2015.
This initiative is training Kenyan youth mentors to serve as peer counsellors and support to GOH children within our two Kenyan partners, the Africa Brotherhood Church and African Christian Church and Schools.
The camps themselves will be a fun time of learning together and supporting one another as Canadian and Kenyan volunteers serve GOH Kids in a Summer Camp environment.
We are in special need of a few good men to volunteer as camp counsellors in Kenya for 14 days next August.
Phyllis and Patrick
We are very excited to be welcoming a new member to the Guardians of Hope leadership: Phyllis Wambui has just begun as the new project officer with the African Christian Church and Schools (ACC&S) Guardians of Hope project. Phyllis will be coordinating the ministry of the GOH throughout the nine regions of her church.
Physllis follows our good friend Patrick Maina who has been serving with the ACC&S GOH since we became a part of the program five years ago. Patrick is now taking on some new hats with ACC&S food security projects with CBM and Canada Food Grains Bank in Kenya.
Faith Holwyn reading from the Groups of Hope leader’s manual
You can learn more about the “Groups of Hope”
Approach through the website