The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that it will award a $10 million grant to the Anglican Primate of Southern Africa, Bishop of Washington and a canon from the Diocese of Florida to combat HIV/AIDS through the Anglican church in southern Africa.
The grant, a part of President George W. Bush’s $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, has been given to eleven humanitarian relief organizations; of those 11, nine are faith-based. The grants are offered through 5-year programs overseen by USAID.
“We are in the midst of a terrible crisis, and this grant from USAID comes not a moment too soon,” said Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, one of the main organizers of the Southern Africa project. “This $10 million, and whatever resources might follow, will radically decrease the rate of HIV/AIDS infections throughout southern Africa.”
The other two overseers are: the Bishop John B. Chane and the Rev. Canon Robert V. Lee of FreshMinistries, an ecumenical non-profit organization in Jacksonville, Florida.
Rev. Lee, who founded FreshMinistries, said the program will be modeled on practices pioneered in Uganda – the only African nation where AIDS levels have been on the decline. The Uganda effort, known as the “ABC program,” encourages people to be Abstinent before marriage, Be educated, and use Condoms.
Lee said the grant will be administered by FreshMinistries, although the inter-Anglican partnerships will be the main source of strength.
“We've found that partnerships lead to better outcomes and globally arrived-at solutions are critical if we are to succeed in reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS,” said Lee. “FreshMinistries and the Diocese of Washington have many partnerships to draw on already and will work together to develop more that are ready to take the lessons learned in Uganda and help apply them elsewhere in Africa.”
Chane, meanwhile, said he is thankful to be working alongside the people of southern Africa in battling the epidemic.
“I am thrilled that our diocese has played a role in putting these resources into the hands of our brothers and sisters in southern Africa,” said Chane, whose diocese formed a partnership with Ndungane's province at its annual convention in January. “They have been battling this disease for more than a decade, and we're just so honored to have opened a few doors for them in official Washington.”
According to the Rev. David Beetge, dean of the Province of Southern African, the grant will make possible a “tremendous increase in both the scope and the effectiveness” of the efforts of the Anglican Church.
In recent months, the Anglican church in African has suffered major financial losses, mostly over the issue of homosexuality. Following the consecration of an open homosexual as bishop in the United States, African Anglican church leaders announced a “broken fellowship” and rejected the financial support offered by its U.S. counterparts.
Earlier this week, Archbishop Peter Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria, held a news conference at Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia, where he announced his intention to start an alternative Anglican church under Nigerian jurisdiction in the United States. Additionally, the Anglican Archbishop of Uganda announced in a letter last month that it will refuse all forms of funds from the U.S Episcopal church.
Both Archbishop Ndungane and Bishop Chane said the cooperation between them is a great example of how different provinces can work together through the conflict.
This is a wonderful example of how different provinces can work together to build God's Kingdom, and witness to the Gospel,” Ndungane said. “The needs of God's people mandate that we persevere with one another, rather than letting our differences tear the Communion apart.”
The Anglican Province of Southern Africa includes the countries of South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Angola and the kingdoms of Swaziland and Lesotho. In South Africa nearly 5 million people are infected with HIV. Swaziland has the highest infection rate in the world, approximately 40 percent.
The Anglican Church already provides a range of services related to HIV/AIDS including prevention, education, care of the sick care and education of orphans, voluntary counseling and testing in Southern Africa.