Côte d'Ivoire Church Youth Leaders Explore New Ways to Communicate About HIV/AIDS
by M. Isaac Broune
DABOU, Côte d’Ivoire, Sept. 2007 – "Stand Firm and Immovable Facing HIV/AIDS" was the theme of a three-day workshop for youth leaders of The United Methodist Church of Côte d'Ivoire on September 18-21.
A major emphasis was on communication strategies to stop the spread of the virus and church-based efforts to help young people living with HIV. One young woman and one young man from each of the seventeen districts took part, along with leaders of the conference youth division and its HIV/AIDS team.
Bishop Benjamin Boni of Côte d’Ivoire opened the workshop. He told the young United Methodist leaders that every person has value in the eyes of God. "That is why we should not remain indifferent as we encounter this disease. Let’s assist. Let’s assist. Let’s assist."
The workshop program included speakers, debates, discussions, video presentations and evaluation. Representatives from health agencies focused on the causes and spread of the virus. Speakers from the church considered Christian theological perspectives and communications strategy to teach people about HIV/AIDS.
Bishop Boni urged the young people to use the information and insights from the event. "Don’t put what you will learn, the equipment you have, in a wardrobe," he said. "Rather, be good agent of God in the society."
Dr. Cherian Thomas, executive secretary for Health and Welfare Ministries of the General Board of Global Ministries, reaffirmed the support of his organization for initiatives such as the HIV/AIDS workshop.
Dr. Thomas, a medical doctor, attended the workshop while in Côte d’Ivoire to introduce the priorities of The United Methodist Church’s Global Health Initiative and help the church’s health team design a new strategic plan.
This program was organized by the youth division and the HIV/AIDS team of The United Methodist Church of Côte d’Ivoire Annual Conference and supported by a grant from the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund.
The workshop was held at the John Wesley Centre in Dabou, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Abidjan.
Also attending the opening session were the Rev. Alphonse Essoh Niagne, superintendent of the the Dabou District; Esaïe Yed Angoran, the executive secretary of the West Africa Central Conference of The United Methodist Church; Dogo Zama Christophe, the general secretary of Prefecture of Dabou, who is also a member of Côte d'Ivoire United Methodist Church, and Mrs. Seka Frida, national vice-president is in charge of AIDS work for the Board of Non-Governmental Organizations. They each encouraged the youth leaders to be role models among their peers in overcoming the spread of AIDS.
*Mr. Broune is Conference Communicator for the Côte d'Ivoire Annual Conference.