RCCG RAPAC RCCG RAPAC HISTORY
A little over a decade ago, even when the signs were not there very much to show that a lot of groups or organizations intervention on HIV/AIDS were there. The General Overseer of RCCG, Pastor E.A Adeboye went many steps further than praying for those affected by HIV/AIDS to initiate the Redeemed AIDS program action committee called RAPAC. The AIDS in quote is not as in HIV/AIDS because that is the misconception of everybody but it is actually rendering help and social services to the needy. Some years back when the issues of HIV started coming in mass lot of people started running to the church. You know when there is problem outside, people run to the church where Daddy G.O will pray for them and apart from this, they still need further assistance so that was what led to the birth of RAPAC. It was not one of the programme that are usually common that churches want to set up so as expected there were many challenges. It was set up as at then to take care of people living with HIV and then to see what we can do to reduce the scourge at least to contribute our little quota to the National programme and as the time we took off, the faith base people were coming and running away. They were saying that HIV is a punishment from God, His judgment etc. but daddy said no we should give succor, we should give help to them.
Initially, before the church could embrace it, it took us a longtime but thank God for Daddy G.O because he himself was creating awareness for it, backing us up and bringing all ministers together whereby we talk to them and that has actually helped because initially, a lot of people were dragging their feet, in fact they stigmatized the office. In spite of its initial challenges, the organization had its mission clearly defined "To empower the church its host community towards living a healthier life through behavioral change communication access to reproductive health information and provision of quality health care services and support for people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS" from its mission statement it shows that RAPAC thus has a lot in its hands. People when they come in, we discover that there are a lot of things infection attached to the HIV that is even beyond the issue.
HIV itself so we have to look inward on what can be done. We started with prevention by educating people on how not to contact the virus. Especially focusing on the youth and the teenagers because when we look at the central report majority of the people who are affected or infected are the teenagers and youth. We had to look at what was fueling it and most if it is SEX because they really want to express themselves, they want to eat the forbidden fruit, so we started looking for how to really educate them on reduction of partners to those who are already sexually active until they get to inform decision of not even having sex, so we started preaching abstinence we started by training peer educators among the teenagers. In the areas of education RAPAC has been able to provide literacy and numeracy education and reintegration of vulnerable children, OVC who had not been to school before and this it started in 2006 under AIM project with funding from sponsored by USAID in Abuja, Benue, C.River, Edo, Lagos and Oyo.
Some people whose parents are positive (+) the children are not in any way (+) but because of their predicament, they can't send them to school. We offer some of them scholarship. The OVC were given scholarship materials e.g. school bags, uniform, sandals, text books, stationaries, text book to assist them in the education. A qualified teacher is usually employed to teach these children for 9 months after which written examination were conducted to know the level of their academic capacity and understanding. To develop tind encourage the interaction of these children among others. A kid clubs is formed where by the children can play games and carry out different activities like cultural dances and visits to places of interest. Usually after 9 months the children are enrolled to government school around their home to guarantee unhindered access to education instead of paying school fees, an agreement is reached with school authority to provide the school with need facilities so as to allow the children stay in school. Apart from these, OVC who are between the age of 9 to 14 years who are unable to continue their studies due to financial constraints are usually identified in various communities by RAPAC they are re integrated back to schools in the community with and an agreement reached with the school authority to provide the needed facilities that will benefit their student. This replaces any levy that might hinder their education and this laudable programme is still ongoing. RAPAC also works in the area of giving food and nutritional support in collaboration with USAID under USAID funding. RAPAC provide OVC between age 0 to 5 years with supplement fortified with vitamins and minerals to improve their nutritional status. These children are weighed monthly to monitor their growth. Their mothers and caregivers are usually given nutritional education amid health talks. Not only that, parents and caregivers are also being empowered with vocational and entrepreneur skill. We have programmes on entrepreneurship skill for members of the church that is economic empowerment for people. In fact it is because of our programme that USAID called us and trained us to give empowerment to the people just to take care of this economic crunch that is ravaging the whole world. A lot of people have benefited from it that is not HIV. As its contribution towards fighting HIV/AIDS scourge, RAPAC engaged in various intervention programmes which includes HIV/AIDS, STI prevention this was done in collaboration with Family Health Internation (FHI) with funding from USAID it covered 3 local government areas in Lagos with over 300 parishes. One local government each in Ekiti and Ondo were also covered. In 2003, the intervention was further expanded to 16 local government areas in Lagos and it ended in June 2004.
RAPAC also implemented the prevention programme with FHI and GHAIN in 4 states namely Lagos, Edo, Anambra and Cross river, it was directed at mobilizing church members and the communities empowering individuals and families to prevent STI and Hiv/aids. RAPAC employed various approaches during the project which included peer education counseling, community outreaches, parents, communication and home visitation to provide spiritual care for people living with HIV/AIDS and people affected by AIDs. Those who are now infected, we give them spiritual counseling and then we teach them how to live positively with the infection and course we have cases where God has, God is still in heeling business, we have cases of people who were once positive but now negative but the issue is except they come out themselves, most of what we do here is confidential. So we cannot say except an individual opens up to say yes he/she is living with HIV and wants to declare it publicity. Then those who are infected also we have programmes for them whereby we meet with them we pray and then we give them, to some of them it's like death sentence, nobody wants to have anything to do with them so we need to educate their families sometimes we usually go with them to their places of work where they have terminated of appointment to plead with them, to educate them, some of the are re-absorbed and some leads to orphanage infant in Nigeria now the latest report is that we have 18 millions orphans as a result of HIV so we have programs for orphans too we have over 2000 orphans that we are taking care of, we have over 2000 as a result of HIV are taking care of from this office and we are not leaving men you know but heal more with women and children and men too. So those who are infected if they have lost their job, we give them economic empowerment, we give them income generating activities, they start small and their business will grow. To the credit of this prevention project, sexually related issue can now be discussed openly in church program. Some people living with HIV/AIDs are now bold to seek for help and to declare their status.
There were more response to call for care and support of people living with HIV/AIDs than before. People living with HIV/AIDs in the church now adopt positive living and increase in number of parishes requesting for HIV/AIDs prevention information. There has also been an increase in abstinence behavior among youth and teenagers in the church. There has been an increase in number of people accessing counseling and testing services. Evidence based report of divine healing of people living with HIV/AIDs after counseling and spiritual support has also being reported. RAPAC has also been involved in behavioral communication activities to avert HIV and sexually transmitted infection. As well as delaying sexual debeau among the youths. These methods adopted includes focal group discussion, interpersonal communication, peer education, training of age and job peers, parent child communication, community dialog and production of age appropriate messaging materials for all categories of target group in the community. We have some children that we have even given education to, some of our peer educators for instance, part of how we delay sexual debeau is training people as peer educators there are some of these children we have given scholarship or we help them to get scholarship and go to school.
Peer education is a program that is done to meet different people at their level. In Redeem for instance we have what we call the natural groups starting from the elders to the married men and women, youth/singles, teenagers and the children. What we do is that we have a curriculum. The program is actually for 5 days where we train them on so many things not only on HIV but so many things that empower them to be able to stand on their own even for their own lives. We will train some people as trainers, they will now go and replicate the same training for their peers and then the idea is when you train somebody and the others are trained, one person can talk to about 5, 10 peers that this is what I've learned; my life changed after this program and it goes on and on like that and they came to give us report, we don't just leave them like that they came back to give us report on weekly bases, on monthly bases, how they have been able to disseminate the information to some of them it's like we train them to be role model and if you are a role model and somebody is looking up to you, they will want to behave like you rather than falling prey of negative peer pressure so we empower them to really be an influential positive peer that will influence their peer positive peer that will influence their peer positively rather than them falling prey of negative pressure and this is still ongoing. In the area of HIV/AIDs counseling and testing from December 2006, RAPAC implemented HIV counseling and testing programs with FHI and GHAIN this was scaled up to prevention of mother to child transmission in May 2008 and it remains in place till date. HIV counseling and testing centre named heart to heart allocated at Ebute-metta in Lagos and Redemption camp where they conduct free HIV counseling and testing to church members and those in the community around, clients are usually referred to appropriate site to access free treatment and support. This service is usually made available during the church Holy Ghost Congress and convention programs. For the prevention of mother to child transmission maternal and child care, counseling and testing site were upgraded in May 2008 to commence counseling and testing for pregnant women at the Redemption camp and Ebute-metta maternities. This project was initiated to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV/AIDs among positive pregnant women to their unborn babies during labour, delivery and breast feeding. The risk of mother to child transmission can be reduce to less than 2% by this intervention which included antiretroviral prophylaxis given to women in pregnancy and labour and for the infants in the first six weeks after delivery. Also counseling on replacement breastfeeding as well as child care information is usually done to enable them make informed decision about their family life. For this, RAPAC adopted the following services. Prevention of HIV/AIDs transmission from infected mothers to their children, care and support for HIV/AIDs infected mothers, their infants and their children, prevention of unintended pregnancy among HIV positive women and primary intervention of HIV infection in women of reproductive age group and their partners. Beyond all these, RAPAC has not left out the importance media in passing across its messages. The G.O of RCCG Pastor E.A.Adeboye has himself been in the forefront of the mass media initiative through regular television counseling and admonition.
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