|© UNICEF Angola/2011/Sani|
|Pastor Simão Cavanda Vicente, from the Congregational Evangelic Church, attended a 4-day provincial training of trainers focused on family competencies organized by the Ministry of Family and UNICEF in Kuito, the capital of the central Angolan province Bié.|
KUITO, Angola, 29 November 2011 – This week 80 church leaders, civil society activists and government representatives from nine provincial districts descended on the central province of Bié to learn how simple, high-impact and affordable changes in behaviour can help improve the health and well-being of Angola’s children.
'The Recipe for Happiness’
Religious leaders from Angola’s major religious communities including the Catholic, Methodist, Adventist, Pentecostal, Universal, Evangelical and Baptist churches will help channel critical messages on child survival, development and protection to Angolan families. Supported by Angola’s Ministry of Family and Women’s Promotion and UNICEF, the Recipe for Happiness is a collective of wide-ranging behaviours that parents and caregivers can easily adopt, such as breastfeeding to six months, hand washing, using oral rehydration and sleeping under a bed net, all of which have a proven and dramatic impact on child health.
“Engaging religious leaders on family competencies is extremely important for the Angolan Government,” said Bié’s Vice-Governor Ana Maria Muvuay. “They can reach the farthest areas of Angola for little cost and are considered trusted and respected members of the community.”
Spreading crucial messages
Twenty thousand families and caregivers in Bie will receive the Recipe for Happiness booklets and benefit from subsequent interaction with trained church and civil society representatives.
“I arrived this morning from Chitembo district, 150 km away from Kuito, and I’m very excited to participate in this four-day training,” said Pastor Simão Cavanda. “I’m seeing that the messages included in the Recipe for Happiness booklets will help me to convince my followers on how to live positively, including that corporal punishment is harmful and counterproductive to a child’s education.”
Pastor Simão and his colleagues in Bié province are just the beginning. Eighty-five thousand religious leaders, and soon to be activists, will be trained as part of the project. Those trained are expected to reach at least 1.3 million families over a three-year period adding up to more than six million Angolans.
Since the beginning of the alliance with churches in January 2011, more than 1,200 church leaders have already become engaged in the family competencies programme. Five hundred trainers and 1,600 activists have been trained and more than 60,000 vulnerable families have been supported though dedicated family visits and awareness sessions.