Archive for Thursday, December 7, 2006

A first-hand view of AIDS tragedy

After trip to Africa, minister hopes to build programs to help victims

December 7, 2006

A trip to South Africa has a part-time Eudora minister using grim terms to define the reality of the AIDS epidemic on Africa.

"Personally, I never realized what a genocide is going on due to AIDS," said Jan Justice. "Africa is home to more than 60 percent of people living with AIDS."

More than 35 million people in the world are living with HIV/AIDS, and of that number, 25 million are living in sub-Saharan Africa, said Justice, the executive director of Community LINC, a Kansas City homeless outreach organization.

Justice, who also serves as a part-time pastor at Eudora United Methodist Church, recently returned from a mission trip to Johannesburg, South Africa, with a group from the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood.

¢ Every day, 8,000 people die from HIV/AIDS¢ Life expectancy in the United States is 77; life expectancy in Africa is less than 40¢ By 2010, there will possibly be 20 million orphans; 15 million will be orphans as the result of AIDS; 12 million of those will be African orphans¢ 59 percent of people living with AIDS are womenStatistics provided by Jan Justice

"We went to a women's leadership conference about HIV/AIDS in Africa," Justice said. "We went as participants and as facilitators."

The September conference, African Women's Jamboree, was for African women who provide training and education in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Justice said Community LINC provided transitional housing for the homeless. She said the Church of the Resurrection has worked with an organization called Sojourner: Help, Advocacy, Development, Education and has been to the conference five times previously.

"Two years ago, a woman named Tembo, came and visited Community LINC and was interested in what we were doing," she said. "She wanted to hear more about the organization."

The Rev. Tembo Kalenga, in an e-mail interview, said she was interested in Community LINC because the organization's goals were similar to the goals of SHADE and the jamboree.

"(Community LINC) has methods, policies and programs that will be useful to implement to our program," Kalenga said. "Jamboree encourages women to embrace new skills for the development of Africa."

SHADE is a faith-based nonprofit organization based in Cape Town, South Africa, and focuses its efforts on the needs of people who require re-establishment of community.

"SHADE is a place of welcome, building bridges to a united future of peace and development," Kalenga said.

Kalenga, who is the main organizer for the African Women's Jamboree, said the jamboree is a conference that can make a difference in the lives of families in Africa.

"The jamboree is a network of women under SHADE stretching around Africa, holding in their embrace, all of this continent's grief and sadness," she said. "It's energy and life. Women meet together across cultural and economic barriers."

Justice, along with her co-workers at Community LINC, led sessions about providing psychological and social support to those dealing with AIDS, the relatives of those with the disease or coping with the death of a loved one.

"We're looking for ways to build programs for victims with AIDS," she said. "We talked about how they might develop sea-based micro-enterprises to raise funds to build orphanages."

Justice said the experience has moved her to want to do more.

"I would like to continue to look for ways to help; especially the business development and writing grants," she said. "We want to help them be self-sufficient."

Justice said her faith played a large part in her efforts.

"As Christians, I feel we are called," she explained. "We are building peace through the work of the church. This was life changing.

"Breaking the silence," she said, "is the only way to combat the disease."

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