In the context
of the Caribbean region, where faith-based organisations
exert considerable influence on public opinion, the CCC is
well-positioned to carry out work in mitigating the impact
of HIV/AIDS and scaling up the response of faith-based organisations
to HIV/AIDS. In fact, the 2001 World Bank Country
Study on HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean states that
"Religious institutions represent a major source in
the effort to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean .
Following the example of the Caribbean Conference
of Churches, the creation of fora and formal alliances
among the various religious organisations involved in the
effort to combat AIDS at the country level ought to be
given priority consideration. "
The CCC began its exploration of a response to the issue
of HIV/AIDS in 1998 and today is a well-respected member
of the Caribbean Regional Task Force on HIV/AIDS, now known
as the Pan-Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP).
It has been working with CARICOM and other regional partners
towards the full implementation of the Regional Strategic
Framework, HIV/AIDS, 2002-2006.
Our current HIV/AIDS programme reflects a comprehensive
response to a complex socio-economic development issue. The
programme now consists of the following components:
Education and training (this includes the following
two areas of focus):
Behaviour change and communication programmes
geared towards youth, clergy and the integration of HIV/AIDS
in denominational educational facility curriculum including
schools, theological colleges, Sunday school etc.;
Advocacy and awareness building (including
sensitization for clergy and lay persons, partnering the
Seed money to support member church initiatives;
Assisting member Churches in the provision
of care facilities and support for PWAs and their families.
Provision of technical and other expertise
in support of member church initiatives.
The basis of these six areas of action is the reflection
of a human response to a human issue taking into consideration
our "comparative advantage" as faith based organizations
dealing with this issue.
Major results expected from the projects included in this
component include increased number and improved behaviour
change and communication programmes as a risk prevention
strategy mounted by faith based organizations; an extensive
regional network of ordained and lay activists functioning
across the Caribbean; training and information manuals for
the management of church projects; and behaviour change and
communication programmes dealing with HIV/AIDS.
this will be the publication of contact and other necessary
information. The programme also focuses on enhancing the
regional sharing of resources among churches in the region.
Exchanges of information, personnel and other resources
is promoted through this programme.
Consistent with its policy of accompaniment, the CCC held
a conference titled "Human Sexuality and HIV/AIDS in the
Caribbean - A Theological Approach," in November of 2001
in the Dominican Republic . Some 120 participants including
Church leaders and Church workers attended. The activity
was part of the advocacy and awareness building component
of the CCC's overall HIV/AIDS response programme. It was
jointly sponsored by the CCC, Christian Aid and the World
Council of Churches (WCC).
The objectives of the conference were:
To contribute to and deepen the theological
understanding of and ethical debate on human sexuality in
the Caribbean .
To facilitate a more comprehensive understanding
of the issue of human sexuality and to explore its relationship
to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region.
To make available to CCC member churches the
most up to date information on HIV/AIDS in the region.
To assist member churches in developing policies
which would inform pastoral programmes as a compassionate
response to persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families.
The conference provided an opportunity for leaders of our
member churches and lay activists concerned to come together
to reflect, share on their work and plan action. One of the
major results of this conference is the hosting of a workshop
for those already involved in HIV/AIDS work in the Churches.
This workshop will focus on sharpening their project management
and other skills, among other things.
In April of 2002 the CCC cemented its relationship with
UNAIDS which funded one aspect of the work of the organisation's
regional HIV/AIDS programme. The project was called "Youth
HIV/AIDS Prevention and Behaviour Change Programme" and
focused on four territories Trinidad and Tobago , Bahamas
, Haiti and the Dominican Republic .
The project aimed to train peer educators to assist young
people in making healthy sexual behavioural choices in the
context of a supportive church/religious environment. In
addition, sessions specially designed for clergy were held.
The aim of these sessions were to build awareness among our
clergy on HIV/AIDS as it relates to young people. This was
with a view to their supporting the peer educators and building
awareness among their own peers.
The main objectives of the programme were to strengthen
Caribbean churches' capacity in HIV/AIDS prevention and behavioural
change interventions with the 15-24 year old population in
order to promote their self-esteem and facilitate healthy
The beneficiaries were young people within the 15 to 24
age group, who attended denominational schools or were involved
in young adult church groups. This age group was targeted
because it is an age group that is at high risk of contracting
HIV and one that makes up more than half the population of
the Caribbean region. Clergy in the four territories also
Achievements to date include:
A trained and operational group of 120 Peer
Educators functioning at the regional level.
Increased capacity of young people within religious
communities to make informed choices on their sexuality.
The strengthening of existing national programmes
in each target countries.
In the long-run we expected positive behaviour
change among targeted young people.
The CCC also recently entered into a collaborative
relationship with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
for the implementation of a comprehensive three-year Regional
HIV/AIDS project entitled "Building a Faith-based Response
to HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean ".
The overall goal of the project, which will be implemented
over a period of approximately three years, is to mobilize
and enhance the response of Faith-based organizations (FBOs)
in the Caribbean to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The purpose is
to strengthen faith-based HIV/AIDS projects and programs
particularly in the areas of care and support initiatives,
education and awareness building at the level of congregations
and communities in 14 CARICOM territories.
The project aims to achieve results such as increased advocacy
from FBOs on HIV/AIDS issues and improved and increased availability
of home-based care and support programs for People Living
with HIV/AIDS and their families.
It will make use of existing
FBO structures and institutions in the region and will strengthen
the response of these organzations to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
This will be done through the establishment of guidelines as well as the provision of training and capacity building
in various areas. It will also ensure the effective development
of linkages between existing faith based and HIV/AIDS networks
at local, regional and international levels.
The CCC is also a member of the Project Advisory Group of
Strengthening the Institutional Response to HIV/AIDS in the
Caribbean (SIRHAC), which is an EU funded project executed
The CCC is also well aware that one issue cannot be dealt
with in isolation, and so approaches its programmatic work
in an integrated approach. The HIV/AIDS programme is therefore
one of several complementary regional programmatic initiatives
that focus on holistic development and which continue to
impact on crucial areas of the social life of the region.
The HIV/AIDS itself belongs to a cluster of Human Development
Programmes designated Priority Regional Initiatives
(PRIs). The other programmes in this cluster
include Drug Demand Reduction, Family Life Development,
Food Security, HIV/AIDS Response, Uprooted People, and
Violence Mitigation. Together with this is a cluster of Sustainable Socio-Economic
Development Programmes .
This comprises initiatives
on Poverty Reduction, Project Development Fund and Disaster
Management with a focus on Disaster Mitigation, Preparedness
and Response. The three other programme areas of the
CCC are The Caribbean Ecumenical Institute which
focuses on Theological Issues , Development, Praxis Issues
and Culture; an Advocacy and Communications Programme and
an International Relations Programme.
CCC's partners in the fight against HIV/AIDS include UNAIDS,
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Christian
Aid, Church World Service and Witness (CWSW), Evangelisches
Missionswerk en Deutchland (EMW), Evangelical Lutheran Church
of America (ELCA), World Council of Churches (WCC), United
Church of Canada (UCC), United Society for the Propagation
of the Gospel (USPG).
We are hoping to continue to build on this programme with
follow-up youth activities. These would focus on issues of:
advocacy and awareness building;
education and training and;
behaviour change and communication.
All activities would build on and strengthen the already existing
network of youth peer counselors.