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Commentary & Opinion
Keeping Orphans in Communities "Won't End AIDS" but "Will Help AIDS Orphans"

July 31, 2012

"The International AIDS Conference [AIDS 2012] was full of talk of hope and best practices, but no one was giving details on how to reach an 'AIDS-free generation,'" GlobalPost correspondent John Donnelly writes in this post in the "Global Pulse" blog. "Still, this conference, like many before it, had several key moments when it was clear that the world of AIDS had changed," he adds, and highlights a summit of faith groups organized by Rick and Kay Warren of Saddleback Church and held on the sidelines of the conference. "Saddleback's work in Africa follows what it calls the PEACE Plan, which stands for planting churches that promote reconciliation; equipping servant leaders; assisting the poor; caring for the sick; and educating the next generation," he notes.

"Much of its work centered on orphans and Warren gave a few concrete details in his talk," Donnelly writes, adding, "The first was that the church wanted to keep orphans in their communities, helping find families for them. The second was that they didn't want American groups building orphanages in Africa." Donnelly notes that the faith community gives billions of dollars and sends hundreds of thousands of people to Africa each year, but "[i]n many cases, they were flying solo; governments often knew nothing of what they were doing, and local groups often had little or nothing to do with the work." He says that after researching his book, "A Twist of Faith: An American Christian's Quest to Help Orphans in Africa," published earlier this month, "I left thinking that the people doing this amazing work could be effective if only they were humble, coordinated their work with a country's plans for orphans, and found great partners in local communities." He concludes that "the influential push by Saddleback and others not to build orphanages and [to keep] children in communities ... won't end AIDS, but it will help AIDS orphans" (7/30).

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