Cape Town (Fides Service)- “This is not the usual Conference on AIDS, it is more of a coming together of people, most of them women, who battle every day against this illness, often with very restricted means” Father Giuseppe Lanzi Director of the Scalabrini Development Agency in Cape Town, says with regard to the 2nd International Sister 2 Sister Conference. “200 delegates from 32 African countries are meeting in Cape Town 25 October - 2 November, to get to know each other and share their experience in the struggle against AIDS” says Lanzi. Sister 2 Sister is a support network for women involved in alleviating the suffering caused by AIDS. “Most of the women are motivated by personal experience, they have a child, or a relation, or a friend who is sick and they are determined to give in to the disease but to react. Many have no medical training whatsoever and one of the objectives of the meeting is to offer a series of instruction conferences” Lanzi explains.
“This is not a formal meeting - says Lanzi. “Jamboree means not simply a conference. As it happens very often in Africa coming together means study, but also having a good time, celebration”.
“S2S” as the network is called, first started by a Methodist pastor, has become an inter-confessional project and it is fully supported by the Catholic Scalabriniani Missionaries. The Director of Scalabrini Development Agency says “The network comprises Catholic, Protestant, Muslim women and women of other religions all united by the common objective to help people affected by this terrible illness”.
To realise the importance of the initiative it should be remembered that 30 million HIV positive Africans 67% are women and girls.
The 200 delegates come from Democratic Congo, Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Eritrea, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Gabon, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda, Zambia, Somalia, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Central African Republic Benin, Togo, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Gambia, Madagascar. French, Portuguese and Italian women have joined the network. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 30/10/2003, lines 32 words 388)