Footsteps in a local context

HIV and AIDS

by Rufaro Chitsamba.

Rede Cristã Contra HIV/SIDA (Christian Network Against HIV/AIDS, referred to below as Rede Cristã ) is a Christian organisation working in Mozambique. In partner­ship with Tearfund, we are responsible for printing and dis­trib­ut­­ing the African Portuguese version of Footsteps. Footsteps is also one of the resources that we use in our activities. Borrowing and adapt­ing inform­ation from Footsteps improves our training activities and helps to make them successful.  

Using Footsteps in training

Rede Cristã was contracted to run a national training programme on food security, with financial support from the Mozambican National AIDS Council and technical support from the Ministry of Agriculture. A food security manual was developed to be used during training sessions. To strengthen the training sessions, we used Footsteps 77 and the PILLARS guide on Healthy Eating alongside the training manual. During the training sessions we also used Bible studies from Footsteps 77. The Bible studies helped indi­viduals, churches and communities to discover what the Bible says about food security. This was particularly useful because the training sessions were inten­ded to help churches to speak out and take action to improve food security in vulnerable communities. 

Bible studies

The staff of Rede Cristã meet for morning prayers every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We use Bible studies from Footsteps during these sessions, which sometimes include our local partners. The local Tearfund office has asked us to run prayer meetings with church leaders and Tearfund partners. At these meetings we have used material from Footsteps to lead Bible reflections on topics in development.

Printing and distribution

The first issue that Rede Cristã printed was Footsteps 70. When our involvement with Footsteps began, we had already been working as a distribution and adaptation agent for other Christian development material. Therefore it did not take long for Footsteps to become well known throughout Mozambique. We were able to make use of existing contacts and methods of distribution to share and distribute Footsteps. One of the main ways was through Rede Cristã’s provincial delegates (provincial delegates are members of Rede Cristã who work as volunteers). As they distributed Footsteps, they raised awareness of the importance and relevance of Footsteps among the communities and churches they supported.

In time, we also began to distribute Footsteps to other Portuguese-speaking countries. At the moment, the other countries covered by the Rede Cristã distribu­tion network include Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and São Tomé e Principe. Rede Cristã distributes around 2,300 copies of each issue of Footsteps.

Footsteps is sent to churches, NGOs and local associations as well as to individuals interested in development work. The local Tearfund office also receives copies for its own distribution. Most of the copies for within Mozambique are sent through Rede Cristã’s provincial delegates who distribute to local churches. Some copies are also taken into communities during our monitoring activities. 

Feedback

Although we do not have a system in place to receive feedback from readers and monitor the use of Footsteps, some comments are sent through provin­cial delegates. Pastor Francisco Ossufo from Moma District in Nampula Province, situated in the northern part of Mozambique some 2,000km from the capital Maputo, wrote:

‘My name is Francisco Ossufo. I live in Moma District. I have been a Footsteps reader since 2001. The magazine Footsteps has given us vision about many things. Footsteps 70 clearly informs readers about climate change. This came at a time when our district had been experiencing drought for a number of years.’

It has been such a joy to see Footsteps not sitting on the shelves but being used. It is used not only as something to read but as a source of information.

In various capacity-building workshops promoted by Tearfund, we have helped to raise awareness of Tearfund resources, focusing on Footsteps. Recently a Tearfund partner, Association of Youth Challenges in Mozambique, requested copies of Footsteps to help staff develop a proposal on water and sanitation and food security. 

During community visits, communities request more copies. In one of our visits one person had this to say of Footsteps: ‘It is good development material. If I receive it in my local language it will be easy to use with my church members.’

Future plans

  • Finding a system of getting feedback from our readers in remote areas of Mozambique. At the moment we are only distributors.
  • Translating Footsteps into the main Mozambican local languages, such as Changana, Cena and Macua. We have been receiving requests from our readers that they need to receive Footsteps in their local languages. We have done this with other publications and it was successful. 
  • Advocating against domestic violence using Footsteps 79. The Mozambican government has just approved a law against domestic violence.  

Rufaro Chitsamba is the Communications Officer at Rede Cristã Contra HIV/SIDA

Rede Cristã Contra HIV/SIDA em Moçambique Av. Amílcar Cabral No. 730 R/C
Caixa Postal 1346
Maputo
Mozambique

Email: redecrista.rchs@tdm.co.mz
www.rchs.org.mz/index.html