Enhancing the agency of families affected by AIDS : strategies for the church at Ilinge Township, Queenstown.
Dumezweni, Bongiwe Miranda.
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HIV/AIDS is a challenge that African society will have to contend with for a number of years to come. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region most affected by HIV/AIDS in the world. The combination of poverty, natural disasters, violence, abuse of women and children, social and political chaos, and mass migration to cities, all accelerate the spread of HIV. Equally, HIV/AIDS increases the risk of a household or individual becoming more impoverished and makes communities vulnerable to other infectious and poverty-related diseases such as tuberculosis. It presents a huge challenge to the church. South Africa's HIV/AIDS statistics are alarming and the nation is beginning to feel the impact through the loss of economically active people, increasing demand on health care, child headed households and increasing mortality rate due to AIDS. AIDS underrnines life and the great possibilities that our new democracy could bring. Faced with the devastating impact of AIDS, families and communities seek ways and means of surviving and carry on with life. They utilise every resource at their disposal to make a living. Making use of the sustainable livelihoods approach, this study recognises this fact and investigates how people survive, what resources or assets they have, how they utilise these, the constraints they are faced with both in a accessing and in utilising resources, and how the culmination of these efforts impacts upon them. Building on these insights this study focused on how the church at Hinge Township in Que'enstown could enhance the agency of families affected by AIDS. The study argues that the church can contribute by (i) addressing the underlying factors that contribute to the vulnerability context; (ii) building the asset portfolio of households affected by AIDS; (iii) chaUenging the policies and structures which inhibit the livelihood options of such households; and (iv) enhancing the existing livelihood strategies. Examples of each of these actions, drawn from the context of Hinge, are provided.