ESHA Steering Committee Meeting Reviewing The Present, Envisioning The Future

IMG-20150805-WA0003The Steering Committee of ESHA (Ecumenical Solidarity for HIV and AIDS) met in Neemrana, Rajasthan for a two-day meeting on July 22-23, 2015.

The Present Phase

As the present phase of ESHA is drawing to a close, the committee took stock of the work achieved.

Work Place Policy: – Ms. Ella Sonawane, Secretary – Publishing and Programmes, ISPCK has been facilitating this work. It was noted that a few of the All India Christian Organizations had made good progress in drafting their work place policies while some others were at different stages of its formulation. Even the NCCI has prepared a draft of the Work Place Policy for approval by the NCCI Executive Committee

Policy on Education: – Six churches have joined hands with ESHA in implementing the Policy on Education in their schools. Schools have come up with Sexual Harassment & Anti Ragging Policies. To motivate Gender Equality and Zero discrimination in schools, pledges are being displayed in schools; the same are recited on a daily basis during the assembly. Mr. Andrew Victor from Andhra Evangelical Lutheran church has been facilitating this ministry. A similar work is being conducted among select colleges with the help of AIAICHE through Prof. Thiagukumar

Social Inclusion Tool: – ESHA has developed this tool to gauge the social inclusiveness of any institution. In fact this tool is helpful for any human community to evaluate itself in terms of its inclusiveness in relating to people who are usually kept on the margins of society.

Interfaith Youth Action Team:- Since the earlier team of national interfaith youth has moved on, ESHA has formed a new local team of interfaith youth leaders, who will go round spreading the word on no discrimination and stigma, gender justice and women’s rights and the importance of care and couselling.

Key Affected Persons:- ESHAS has started organizing workshops with church leaders in helping them to make constructive responses to LGBTQs in their ministries

Concluding Programme:- A concluding finale of the present phase work of ESHA in partnership with ICCO Cooperation Kerk in Actie will be organized in Delhi on August 26-27, 2015. Leaders of Churches and of other faiths, as well people and organizations committed to HIV and AIDS ministries, along with caregivers, interfaith youth and others will participate in this programme.

The Next Phase

From the workshops which ESHA has organized with church leaders, it has become evident that the churches need to be asked how, and in which manner, they could proceed to engage with sensitive communities like the PLWA, LGBT, CSW, IVDU etc. It has become clear that the silence around sensitive issues like sexual diversity are closely related to religious/ cultural norms and values, and that the influence wielded by religious leaders would be of great significance, and hence the need for sensitization of church leaders on these issues becomes even more significant. Therefore in the new phase ESHA would have to address this concern theologically and ministerially.

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