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"Truth and love are beyond prejudice"

Preventing HIV/AIDS and Family Violence

Pastoral Guide for activities performed in the parish

"Strengthening Community Programs Addressing HIV/AIDS &

Family Violence in Romania"


Pastoral Guide for activities performed in the parish

The copyright for this publication belongs to IOCC Romania.
The partial or total reproduction of this material is only allowed with the consent of
IOCC Romania and provided that the source be mentioned.

The publication of this manual was possible due to the generous support provided
by the American people through the United States Agency for International Development
(USAID), within the cooperation agreement 186-A-00-05-00101-00. The opinions
expressed belong to the authors and they do not necessarily reflect USAID points of view.

Copyright 2006, - International Orthodox Christian Charities Inc.

ISBN: 978-973-842-27-1
International Orthodox Christian Charities Organization
The Project "Prevention and fighting against HIV/AIDS infection and family
15 Unirii Boulevard, building 3, entrance 1, 4th floor, apartment 15
040102 Bucharest, Romania
Telephone no. 031 405 77 94
Facsimile no. 021 33 66 238

CIP description of the National Library of Romania

Preventing HIV/AIDS and family violence: Pastoral Guide for activities performed in
the parish - Bucharest, Speed Promotion 2007
ISBN 978-973-8942-27-1

616-008.6 SIDA (AIDS)


Chapter 1 Why is this guide useful 5
Chapter 2 HIV/AIDS: real facts and knowledge 8
Chapter 3 Family violence: real facts and knowledge 10
Chapter 4 How can you approach subjects pertaining to HIV/AIDS and 13
family violence in community
Chapter 5 Services / Sermons / Religious teachings about HIV/AIDS and 15
family violence
Chapter 6 Pastoral visits 17
Chapter 7 Philanthropic committees 20
Chapter 8 Initiative clubs for the youth 23
Chapter 9 Campaigns targeted for informing and raising awareness 27
Chapter 10 Activities in schools 30
Chapter 11 Resources in the field of HIV/AIDS and family violence 32
Your Holiness,
We send you today, together with the other materials that you have received
throughout the entire period of the informative workshops that you have attended within
our project „Consolidating community initiatives for the prevention of HIV/AIDS and family
violence in Romania”, the present pastoral guide that we hope will be useful for your
mission as a shepherd of the flock of God and will allow you to provide pastoral support to
the people who are affected, one way or another, by these serious problems.
This guide is the result of the collaboration between the Romanian Patriarchy and
the international organization International Orthodox Christian Charities for the above-
mentioned project. The guide is not an exhaustive one, it only meant for orientation and
recommendation purposes pertaining to how your holiness might interact with the
parishioners you shepherd, both with those suffering from these stigmata and with the
people who might make them suffer. The authors are aware that the typology of each and
every case is unique and that there are no recommendations that can exactly fit all
situations; that is why, your holiness is to decide which is the best way to act, depending
on specific factors.
Our intention was to make this guide an instrument that could be easily used, by
combining the theological support for the priest's action in preventing and fighting against
HIV/AIDS and domestic violence with technical information, advice and behavior models
inspired from the activity of some of your holiness' colleagues. However, the most
important and comprehensive guide remains the Word of God „the living an working”, such
as it revealed by the Holy Scripture and such as it was felt and interpreted by the Holy
Therefore, the present guide wishes to be a benchmark that you can use in building
a strategy for approaching these phenomena and the victims they make, within the context
of the group of people that you shepherd as the followers of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus
Christ, who calls us, saying: „Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared
for you from the foundation of the world: for I was ahungered, and ye gave me meat; I was
thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed
me; I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. […] Verily I say
unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have
done it unto me”. (Matthew 25: 34-40).

(scanned signature here)
Patriarchy Curate
(scanned signature here)
Professor Dorel-Nicolae MOŢOC
Chapter 1 – Why is this guide useful

„Ye are the salt of the earth. […]Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5: 13-14)
In his parrish, the priest works at two levels: for the community and personally. He is the
servant of the community that he shepherds on the whole and he is the spiritual father
of each and every one of the community members. This double mission makes him a
key-person in the spiritual life of the community, but also in the social life of the
community. Thus, he must be at the same time the guider of the spiritual life of his
parishioners, the adviser of those who are in difficulty, he must be of assistance either
with his words or with his deeds, he is the engine of the individual, community or extra-
community resources for the welfare of the entire community or of a part of its
members, and also the mediator between the sons of his "flock". All these and even
more make the priest's mission in his community such a complex and sometimes
difficult one, which needs a lot of love, sacrifice, the power to understand, patience and
perseverance, diplomacy, tolerance and "understanding for the human powerlessness",
as father Arsenie Boca said. When it comes to preventing HIV/AIDS and family violence
in his own community, all these qualities must be fully used.

The purpose of the priest is to correctly inform, with no trace of passion or bias, in such
a way that the members of the community be finally able to make decisions freely and in
full awareness. For this purpose, it is necessary that the priest himself be informed and
know what are the instruments at his disposal and how to use them in order to help his

That is why we provide your holiness with the present guide, which is intended to be a
practical tool for all the priests that want to inform their parishioners by correctly
informing them, by guiding them and by supporting them in their efforts to change their
attitudes and mentalities pertaining to HIV/AIDS and family violence.
The 10 chapters that follow will provide some answers to the basic questions that those
who wish to become involve in the process of preventing HIV/AIDS and family violence
ask at the beginning:
What do I need to know about the problems approached?
What is my role as a priest in preventing the two problems within the
What can I actually do and how can I act efficiently?
Chapters 2 and 3 provide basic and essential information about the specific aspects of
HIV/AIDS and family violence. Here you will find out what either of the two phenomena
is - real facts but also myths that were created around them - you will find out the
specificity of HIV/AIDS and family violence in Romania, and what can the priest do at
local level in order to prevent and reduce the two phenomena.
In chapter 4 you will find a list with the instruments that both the priest and community
members have at their disposal in order to efficiently approach the two problems. These
instruments and how they can be put into practice will be described in chapters 5-10 of
the guide. The description made were intended to be as succinct as possible and useful
for the daily activity of priests, by answering questions such as why?, when? and how?
to use each instrument proposed. We have emphasized practical recommendations in
order to obtain the maximum effect at community level. Also, in each chapter we have
tried to present a case/a practical example of a priest who has successfully used the
instrument/intervention method described in the chapter in question. All examples given
were extracted from the practical activities performed during the past two years by the
priests who have benefited from the project “Strengthening Community Programs
Addressing HIV/AIDS and Family Violence in Romania”.
The guide ends with chapter 11, which provides those who wish to act efficiently with a
list of resources in the field of HIV/AIDS and family violence –
organizations/institutions/church and laic structures that have a certain decisive role and
which can support community initiatives associated to the two phenomena.
Chapter 2 – HIV/AIDS: real facts and knowledge

What do we know about HIV/AIDS?

HIV is the short name for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus enters the
human body and affects the immune system - the system that protects the body against
infections. AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the advanced stage of the
HIV infection. At this point, the defense system of the affected person is so weak that it
can no longer fight any virus or microbe from the outside. In this phase, even a common
infection can cause death. Is is possible that those who are HIV infected only have
serious symptoms when they reach the AIDS stage.
Currently, this disease is incurable. There are treatments for HIV-infected persons, but
these treatments only have the role of delaying the evolution of the disease.
Besides the serious health problems and the fact that they may become lethal, HIV-
infected persons are also affected by the ignorance and the stigmatization of the people
around them. These are even more painful than the disease itself.
At present, HIV/AIDS affects more than 42 million people worldwide. AIDS kills a person
every 6 seconds.

“True” and "False" about how HIV is transmitted

One of the strongest barriers in communication between HIV-infected persons and the
members of the community where they live is the very rich “folklore” created around the
means of HIV-transmittance, myths that were only generated by the failure to know the
truth, which was maintained throughout the years because of the natural fear that
people generally feel when faced with the disease.
”True”: It is true that HIV is transmitted by:
unprotected sexual intercourse;
sharing syringe needles (the most exposed are those who use injectable drugs);
contact with the blood of an infected person;
contact with unsterilized sharp and pointed objects in hospital, dental surgeries, in
beauty parlours or tattoo salons;
from the mother to the fetus (during pregnancy, at birth or by breastfeeding).

“False": It is as false as can be that HIV can be transmitted by:

living in the same space as an infected person;
sharing tableware and dishes with an infected person;
touching, hugging or kissing;
sharing the toilet, the pool, sports equipment or toys;
eating food that was prepared by an HIV-infected person;
insects stings;
contact with the tears and saliva of an HIV-infected person.
HIV/AIDS in Romania
The specificity of the HIV/AIDS epidemics in Romania consists in the massive presence of
the HIV infection among children at the end of the 80’s. It is generally considered that the
fact of having used blood and untested blood-generated products and having used
unsterile medical tools between 1987-1991 has led to the infection with HIV of thousand of
new-born babies, suckling and small children. On the 31st of December 2005, there were
16,258 cumulate cases of HIV/AIDS cases in Romania (compared to 14,353 as reported at
the end of 2003 and 15,471 as reported in 2004). Of these, 11,741 (almost three quarters)
were children.
Every year, on the 1st of December, the entire world celebrated the World AIDS Day, a day
dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS. Romania marks this day by different events and
campaigns. On this occasion, each and every one of us can show solidarity with HIV-
infected persons or with those affected by HIV.

Face to face with the HIV/AIDS problem as a shepherd and spiritual father

The pain that people cause to those living with HIV/AIDS, by discriminating and
stigmatizing them, is even greater than the pain they feel after they find out that they are
HIV positive. The fury, the depression and desperation almost chokes the people who
know they are sick. In such moments, more than ever, they need the support of those
around them, so that can they get out of this crazy tail-spin. In such moments, more than
ever, they need to hear from those around them: “we love you just as much as before, we
are here for you, you are still the same”. Let’s not forget that Jesus Christ loves all of us
and that He makes no discrimination.

What can the priest do?

He can provide spiritual guidance (pastoral guidance) to HIV-infected persons and
to their relatives;
He can speak privately or publicly (in his sermons or on other occasions) about
HIV/AIDS, in order to correctly inform community members about this subject;
He can sensitize the public about the drama of the people infected with HIV, which
are also left aside because of this;
He can prepare special prayers for the sick persons and he can say them together
with the parishioners;
He can deliver special services or sermons and or together with his parishioners, he
can say special prayers in the memory of the victims;
He can join intra-community or intra-community campaigns or events organized for
solving this problem, or he can organize himself such events.
Chapter 3 – Family violence: real facts and knowledge

What is family violence?

According to the law, family violence is "any physical or verbal action committed
intentionally by a member of the family against another member of the same family,
an action that causes physical, mental or sexual suffering or material prejudice".
This category includes: physical violence, psychical (or mental) violence, emotional
violence, sexual violence, social violence and economic violence.

Family violence in Romania

Family violence is a phenomenon that is perceived as an almost “normal” one in the

Romanian society. The real dimension of the phenomenon in Romania is not known,
but it is estimated to be a very serious phenomenon. Former communist countries
(including our country) reports less cases of family violence than other European
countries. This is explained however not by the apparently low incidence of the
phenomenon, but by the fact that there are no systems for adequate reporting and
acknowledgement and that the level of tolerance towards this phenomenon is very high.
Romanians do not necessarily consider that family violence is a problem. The culture
and the customs of the traditional Romanian community do not encourage or support
the victims of this phenomenon to take measures, but on the contrary, the victims are
recommended to continue bearing their cross. However, there are very few people who
have any idea how tough, unfair, inhuman, humiliating, destructive and especially how
useless is this sacrifice made for the selfishness, frustration, insensibility and power
desire of the abuser.
According to the Study for Health Reproduction performed in Romania in 2004 1, more
than a quarter of the adult women and men have declared that in their childhood they
witnessed acts of violence between their parents. Children learn by imitation. In this
context, the family represents the pattern that provides the child with value, knowledge
and models of behavior. 60% of the adults who have a violent behavior towards their
partners were brought up in family where there was violence.

The same study shows that more than a quarter (29%) of the women who were married at
the moment when the survey was conducted or previously to that moment, have suffered a
form of aggression from their partners (this meaning verbal, physical or sexual violence),
while more than a half (51%) of the interviewed men who were married at that time or
before, have reported verbal aggression towards their partners.

The Study of Reproduction Health: Romania, 2004, SYNTHETIC REPORT, May 2005;
Ministry of Health, World Bank, UNFPA, USAID, UNICEF
However, the glass can be also seen as half full, if we take into account the fact that this
behavior can be changed by a new learning process, as this type of behavior is learnt.

Starting with 2003, Romania has had a specific legislation and a national strategy for
preventing and fighting family violence. These stipulate the fact that citizens have the civic
and moral duty to intervene in defending the victim and in announcing the authorized
intervention body, should they directly or indirectly witness an act of family violence.

Priests and the problem of family violence

The problem of family violence is a complex one and it cannot be solved within a short
interval of time, by means of the simple existence of a legal frame and by the efforts of
only a few people. This needs actions developed on several levels, the involvement of
public institutions, of non-governmental organizations and of the role models existing at
local and national level.

Due to his position of leader and role model that it has in the community, the priest has the
very means that may bring this problem to the community’s attention. Besides, the priest's
status provides him with the credibility and confidence of his parishioners. These
advantages can be efficiently and successfully used for trying to prevent family violence
from becoming an even bigger problem.

What can the priest do for the victims who confess the drama they have been through?
He will create an environment filled with warmth and openness;
He will show respect and understanding for the victim’s feelings and to accept these
as normal behavior within the given context and situation;
He will not question what the victims tell him;
He will try to make the victims believe that the problem can be solved and they have
the possibility to solve it;
He will persuade the victims that they are not guilty of anything, clearly emphasizing
the fact that the "aggressor has no justification or excuse for what they have done"
and that "no one should be abused, irrespective of what they might have done”;
He will try to find out if there are other persons who are affected (family or friends);
He will provide spiritual support.

The priest may have several types of interventions within the community. Among these we
can mention:
To take a public stand against the phenomenon that is family violence;
To educate young people for their family life, both before marriage and on important
occasions such as marriage or baptism;
To inform the entire community about the problem of family violence and to educate
his parishioners to find peaceful solutions for solving the conflicts;
To initiate public talks (during sermons or on other occasions) or private talks
(during pastoral visits) about family violence, in order to correctly inform community
members about this subject;
To guide victims towards specialty services existing within the community or outside
the community.
Chapter 4 – How can you approach subjects pertaining to HIV/AIDS and family
violence in community

It is true that HIV/AIDS and family violence represent sensitive topics for many people.
There are many persons who prefer not to talk about such issues and who adopt values,
attitudes and behaviors without being informed and without thinking too much on these
issues. The priest’s mission is not an easy one for communicating and inspiring the values
and attitudes that are correct and desirable from the Christian point of view. Prejudice,
attitudes, mentalities, behavior models are difficult to change and therefore hard and
continual work is needed to make a difference.

If he wants his interventions to be efficient, the priest must take into account certain key-
Involving other relevant community agents in the field and collaborating with them
will facilitate the development and implementation of activities in the community;
Identifying intra-community and extra-community help and assistance resources for
the victims will facilitate the victims' access to such resources;
Involving the priest’s wife in preventing and fighting the two problems will enhance
the effect of the priest’s activities and actions.

There are several practical ways for the priest to become involved:
He can take a public stand pertaining to the two problems – during the sermon,
religious teaching or on other occasions when he addresses the public: public
gatherings, round table discussions, articles published in the local media, etc. (see
chapter 5);
He can inform and sensitize community members, either individually or together
with other role models for the community – pastoral visits (see chapter 6);
He can act to reactivate and support the activity of community support groups
that function within the parish (parish/philanthropic committees) (see chapter 7);
He can collaborate with the religion teacher of the community to establish a youth
club (see chapter 8);
He can collaborate with the religion teacher of the community and/or with other
teachers to organize and perform extra-curricular activities in schools (see
chapter 10);
Together with the community or parish members, he can elaborate and perform
actions and activities pertaining to the two problems – awareness campaigns (see
chapter 9).

To make sure that the activities proposed are successful, it is recommended that
community members be involved in each stage of activities performance: elaboration,
implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the activities. Thus, community members will
be more motivated and, besides, they will have the chance to better understand the
problems of those for whom they perform such activities.

How can community members become individually involved

By participating in activities pertaining to HIV/AIDS and family violence prevention,
together with the priest and/or the teacher, either individually or within the parish /
philanthropic committee;
By involving the other community members in private talks, with the purpose of
informing them about these problems, of raising awareness and sensitizing them
about these issues;
By participating in the activities of the community support groups (parish /
philanthropic committees) that were initiated or reactivated by the priest;
By initiating such activities at community level or by collaborating with the priest
and/or the teacher for developing such actions;
By taking a stand when they witness an act of family violence or a discriminatory
treatment towards an HIV-infected person.

However, before beginning any initiative, including one pertaining to HIV/AIDS prevention,
please remember that your actions are and should ultimately be actions for community
development, that is actions made together with community members for community
members. Therefore, irrespective that you work with the adults or the children of the
community; remember to respect and to enforce the following principles in your

Fundamental Principles of Community Development:

1. The problems of a community are best identified and defined by the members of the
community in question.
2. The best solutions for local problems are given by community members.
3. The people from a community are capable of acting in order to solve community
Chapter 5 – Services / Sermons / Religious teachings about HIV/AIDS and family

The divine cult is the most important component element of the pastoral activity of the
priest. The liturgical service celebrated during the divine cult is a very good occasion for
the priest to approach topics that are of interest for the community, including the topics
pertaining to the prevention of HIV/AIDS and family violence. As the guide and spiritual
leader of the community, the priest can explain his parishioners the aspects of the issue, in
order to inform and sensitize them, either for a prophylactic purpose or a reparatory one (if
the problem already exists) and he can provide them with solutions for approaching and
solving such issues, as seen from an evangelical perspective.

It is true that the topics proposed are more difficultly approachable because many of the
parishioners refuse to change their views and because many lack correct information. That
is why it is important that community members be gradually sensitized towards these
issues. The most important aspect is that the action must be continual and constant. For
example, it is a very unrealistic solution to talk only once about family violence and expect
that this is enough, that everyone has understood the problem and that everyone now
knows that this is a real issue. Tolerance for the people living with HIV/AIDS, not
discriminating sick people and respecting their rights, peacefully solving family matters and
avoiding violence, respect for one’s family and for the other members of the community, all
these are topics that must be constantly discussed, in different contexts, throughout
several months and even years, in order to obtain durable results.

Recommendations – how to include aspects pertaining to HIV/AIDS and family

violence in sermons and religious teachings

Some parishioners may wrongly understand certain excerpts from the Bible or from the
teachings of the Holy Parents, excerpts that directly or indirectly refer to illnesses or
sickness, to sick people, to the relation between spouses or between parents and children
and to family violence. Let us remember how the last verse from the teachings that are
read during the service for Holy Matrimony used to be and still is interpreted: „ [...]and the
wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ephesians 5:33). That is why, in order to
explain them, the priest must provide the historical, cultural or dogmatic context of what is
said, he must use an easily-accessible language, words that everyone understands and
fewer metaphores, words or abstract notions that some people may find difficult to
understand. Above all, the priest must constantly remind his parishioners that “God is love”
(1 John 4:8) and that where there is love, there is no room for violence, intolerance and

There are several Sundays when the priests read excerpts from the Holy Scripture that
can be a good starting point for including the aspects pertaining to HIV/AIDS and family
violence in the sermon. For example, the Sundays when the priests read the gospels that
speak about miraculous healings (the healing of the ten leprous, the healing of the ill man
in Capernaum, the healing of the ill man of Beth-za'tha, the healing of the blind man, the
healing of the servant of the centurion, the healing of the two blind man and of the dumb
man, in Capernaum and the healing of the hunchback woman. These are appropriate
occasions for including in the sermons topics about non-discrimination and tolerance for
the people living with HIV/AIDS.
Other Sundays with very appropriate Gospels are: The 19th Sunday after Pentecost,
where we read: “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise”
(Luke 6, 31-36). This attitude can be inspired to people for both issues. The Gospel read in
the Sunday of the Sermon on the Mount is just as good a source for sermon topics,
especially when we remind the third Beatitude: “Blessed are the meek...”, and so is the
Sermon of the Good Samaritan. Besides the examples provided above, there are other
Gospels and sermons, and not only on Sundays and on religious holidays, by means of
which Christ speaks about family, love, compassion for the others. They can very well
represent the starting point for sermons and religious teachings pertaining to HIV/AIDS
and family violence.

The religious teachings, considered as a good moment when the priest can approach the
two issues, have certain advantages compared to the sermon:
it allows dialogue between the priest and its parishioners; the religious teachings
are given in an interactive frame, which is more appropriate for discussions; the
parishioners have the opportunity to express their opinions, their doubts, they can
ask questions, clarify certain aspects of the Christian teachings, to correlate these
teachings with actual facts / every day life and to find new ways of putting Christian
teachings into practice during their daily activities;
they represent the best grounds for a future better reception and understanding of
the priest's words during liturgy (mass) and sermon.

Key-factors for the success of a sermon or of religious teachings pertaining to

HIV/AIDS or family violence

Use simple words and meanings, that can be understood by all community
members; using a language that is not adapted to the capacity of understanding of
the public may result in the incorrect understanding of the information;
Provide accurate and correct information about HIV/AIDS and family violence;
Provide examples and make connections with everyday life, but remember not to
name persons;
Explain what would be the correct attitude in real life – for example, tolerance for an
HIV-infected person – and underline the essence and the Christian justification of
this attitude.
Chapter 6 – Pastoral visits

By the nature of his mission, the priest interacts with the parishioners "everywhere and at
all time”, “either with or without time". Whenever he meets his parishioners, either in the
public or in the private space, he has the opportunity to teach them, to decipher the
Scriptures for them, to guide them, to listen to them and to answer to their questions. The
sermon, the confession and religious services performed at the believers’ homes
(consecration and blessing of the houses in the four important fasting periods of each year
of upon the express request of the believers, the services performed for the dead, etc) are
the most common occasions that the priest can use to fulfill their teaching mission.

In the church tradition there is yet another very efficient practice: pastoral visits.
Unfortunately today, in Romanian parishes, the impact of this method of interaction
between the priest and the parishioners has dramatically decreased. The communist
regime has obliged the priest to limit contacts with his parishioners strictly to the liturgical
context. In time, parishioners have ceased to feel the need to talk to the priest in their
homes, besides the religious services that were specifically asked for.

Today, the priests' pastoral visits are generally limited to the visits made for the services
made during important fasting period, to the visits made to the parishioners' homes on
Christmas or for the holiday celebrating the Baptism of Jesus Christ or to the consecration
of homes before this holiday. The pastoral practice has taught that these moments do not
always benefit from adequate contexts or from the time that might be necessary for an
efficient conversation with the parishioners that the priest visits. However, the challenges,
complex social and spiritual problems that parishioners in Romanian communities face
nowadays, including problems pertaining to HIV/AIDS and family violence, make it more
and more obvious that the above-mentioned moments are no longer enough for the priest
to be able to accomplish his mission.

Pastoral visits can decisively contribute to the priest becoming closer to his parishioners
and to the consolidation of the relation between priest and church-goers. The latter will
start seeing the priest such as he should be perceived as: a spiritual father and a friend, a
trustworthy person, with whom the y can share their emotions, thoughts and intentions, a
person who can provide good advice. Pastoral visits allow the priest to better know his
parishioners, the situation of each family, the realities and specific problems that a family
or a person faces every day, which allows the priest to adjust his message and his
approach. This is absolutely necessary if they want to succeed in efficiently approaching
sensible subjects, such as HIV and family violence.

By using this instrument for the prevention of the two problems, either when taking a public
stand during the sermon or at such moments, the priest may render this action more
efficient. During a pastoral visit, the priest may speak more and provide details about a
particular problem, and he can explain any misunderstandings or doubts that church goers
might have. This is another reason why pastoral visits are an essential instrument when
approaching such problems existing within the parish.

However, one must take into account the fact that the information and sensitization of parishioners for the
problem of HIV/AIDS and family violence cannot be obtained after only one visit, but in time, following an
intervention that should combine several types of activities: pastoral visits, sermons, school information,
activities with parishioners' children, together with the religion teacher, community activities for raising
awareness of the public opinion on the topics, together with the members of the parish/philanthropic
committee and with other important agents, etc.

Key factors for the success of pastoral visits

Draw up and enforce a strategy for accustoming parishioners with the idea of
pastoral visits besides the usual visits made during important fasting periods within
a year:
Start promoting the idea of pastoral visits besides the habitual visits made on
Christmas, on the Baptism of Jesus Christ and on Easter; you can start this
process during the sermon, for example;
Draw up a plan for visiting the families in the parish and schedule a certain
period of time; be as realistic as possible when drawing up this schedule;
Establish beforehand the topics that you wish to approach; you can start
thinking about any possible issues or questions that church goers might raise
and prepare answers to such possible questions;
Apply the policy of „small steps”:
Consolidate the trust capital you have been given from your parishioners;
Search for contact with church goers; get them accustomed to your presence
among them, in such a a way that your presence could offer them the
psychological comfort they need to receive you in the intimacy of their home;
During the first visits, avoid to approach highly emotional topics that might
generate controversies and tensioned moments;
Provide accurate information; because it is impossible to know how much people
know about HIV/AIDS and family violence, you should be the one providing
accurate information, although it may seem that you repeat the information. Thus,
you make sure that the parishioners have received accurate information following
the talk with you;
Make sure that the message you send is unitarily and consistently sent from one
visited family to another;
Make up simple messages: when drawing up the messages, you should use short
sentences and use simple words, that are easily understood by everyone;
Communicate non-verbally: verbal communication is important, but you should be
just as careful with your non-verbal language and with the non-verbal language of
the others: position, posture, gestures, face mimics, eye contact.

Non-verbal language says more than you manage to

transmit by words. A good non-verbal language
contributes to better fixing the information that is sent
verbally, thus transmitting to the audience the feeling
that what you say is well-grounded, useful, accurate
and true and that you, as the person telling such
information, are well-intended and that you yourself
believe in the message you sends.
Be an active listener during pastoral visits:
try to listen more and talk less;
"listen” beyond words, and understand what your interlocutors transmit by
non-verbal language; try to find out the feelings, preoccupations and worries
existing behind the words spoken;
do not try to dominate or monopolize the conversation;
do not turn the conversation into a sermon;
be permanently aware of your own attitudes and gestures;
make sure that you have understood correctly what you are told, by asking
clarifying answers, by rephrasing or paraphrasing what you hear;
let the interlocutor say only what they are ready to say; do not leave the
impression that you insist upon a certain topic;
do not judge the interlocutor or the situations he or she was in;
do not provide solutions; help the interlocutors identify the solutions they
need. Thus, it will be easier for the interlocutor to put the solution into
Keep a diary for the discussions, in such a way as to be able to know the situation
of each interlocutor, what you have discussed, what their reactions were and which
the conclusions were.
Chapter 7 – Philanthropic committees

It is desirable that there be local initiative groups in any community, groups which are to
reunite those members that wish to become involved voluntarily, actively and in an
organized manner in identifying and solving social problems that appear within the
community they represent. There is such a structure within our parishes, with such an
objective: the parish committee that we have called a philanthropic committee, in order to
identify, from the very name of the organization, its distinct objective.

Therefore, the philanthropic committee is not necessarily a new structure within the parish.
The committee can be made up of the members of the parish committee, but it can also
include other new members or it can be made up only of new numbers. It is essential that
the number of people that make up the committee act by their own will, constantly,
unitarily, efficiently and in a planned manner in order to attain its purpose: to help the
others, in the spirit of Christian love, by becoming involved in the philanthropic activity of
the Church, but also by supporting the civic and social initiatives of local authorities.

In order to make the activity of the committee more efficient and to make sure that the
actions are well received in the community, it is very important that the members of the
parish committee be active persons from the life of the community, and at the same time
people that the other members of the community know and respect.

In order to facilitate the activity of the philanthropic committee and interaction among its
members, ever since the committee is established or reactivated, it is important to agree
upon functioning rules for the committee and the purpose and mission of the structure.
These aspects become really helpful the moment when the group must react to a certain
problem, to make a decision or to perform a project in the benefit of the community.

Key factors for the success of the activity of the philanthropic committee

Activate/reactivate/consolidate these committees – if the parish committee only

exists on a formal level, the priest can take the initiative to reactivate it as a
philanthropic committee; if the committee exists but does not work properly, the
priest can consolidate or revive it, by transmitting the model of the philanthropic
committee to its structure, to the way it functions and to its activities. The priest will
be the one who will establish the first meeting, will announce and summon the
members, will establish the agenda and the topics for discussion and will monitor
the enforcement of the aspects agreed upon, by involving community members in
all of these stages, as much as possible.
Help the group obtain its own identity:
encourage the members of the committee, especially during the first
meetings, to get to know each other, to find out new things about the others
and to discover their individual abilities and their experience;
Encourage them to talk and agree upon their purpose and objectives as a
team/committee, to establish an action plan that they are to put into practice;
Make sure that the members of the committee have talked about and have
agreed clear rules for making decisions and clear rules for teamwork, rules
that are to guide their activity (very often people tend to establish what
should be done, but to fail to answer how to actually do what they have
Help them feel that the initiatives belong to them. Thus, you will help them take
responsibilities for the initiatives in their capacity of members of the
Encourage the members of the committee to become involved in making the
decisions and in putting the decisions into practice;
You should avoid imposing your own points of view or to express opinions
about the members of the group, but you must take on responsibility for
facilitating the process of making wise decisions.
Guide the members of the committee to initiate, at first, smaller sized activities and
help them put their ideas into practice, in order to help them be successful. This is
essential for the beginning, for consolidating the trust of the team in their own
Celebrate each success obtained by the committee. It is important that people feel
good when they work together, to be proud that they belong to a group, that they
have performed a special action together, to have the chance to be happy for their
results. You can even turn the festive moment in a celebration/an event of the
entire community. This will very well consolidate the spirit of the community and the
feeling of belonging to and being responsible for the community and the members
of the community;
When adjusting the activities of the philanthropic committee to the local needs – it is
very important for the members of the committee to identify the needs of the
community and of the parishioners when initiating and performing their activity.
Make sure that the community is well represented within the committee: the
philanthropic committee should also include representatives of all social or ethnic
groups of the community, which might present even better the needs and problems
of the groups in question. Also, the group should also include the members of the
community who can provide resources of any kind (time, money, material
resources, access to decisions, etc.) for putting the activities into practice;
Collaborate with local institutions (medical surgery, police department, city hall,
school, etc.), depending on the needs of the community; this collaboration can
facilitate the involvement of local authorities in solving certain problems; the
representatives of these institutions can be invited to take part in the philanthropic
committee (if they are interested and if they have time);
Identify and facilitate a space where the meetings, activity planning and
coordination could take place (for example the parish house, the church, the school,
Facilitate the process of human resources development; Identify training/teaching
and information needs of the members of the philanthropic committee; facilitate
their participation in different continual training courses provided for adults by local
or regional non-governmental organizations, in different teams, such as local
development, project management, planning, teamwork, etc.

And maybe the most important aspect pertaining to the good functioning of the
philanthropic committee is, as we have said before, that people be a team, not just a

Successful examples in the activity of philanthropic committees

The village of Ocolna of Dolj County, is a small community, mostly made up of Roma
population. In 2006, from the project’s initiative, a philanthropic committee was
established, which was mainly formed by the teachers from the village school, as besides
the Church, the school is considered to be an institution with formal authority in the
community. We should mention that the committee team also includes the Romani
teacher, a person who is very appreciated and respected by family members.
One of the activities performed by the philanthropic committee was a small campaign
targeted to inform about HIV/AIDS, as the people living in Ocolna had no information about
HIV/AIDS. Once the theme of the campaign was established, the members of the
philanthropic committee, together with the village priest, have asked for the help of the
IOCC project team from the county and the help of the representatives of the social
department of the Metropolitan Sear of Oltenia, especially during planning. They have
provided assistance and they have given all necessary specialty information. The teachers
from the philanthropic committee have benefited from a short local training, which was
especially focused on communication methods. The event was previously announced
during PTA meetings, so that community members be not surprised when the activity was
to start.
A printed material was drawn up, which was adapted to the needs and specificity of the
target population – it was printed in All caps so that it could be more easily readable.
Drawings were also used. The message was unitary and well-established, and therefore
all members of the committee sent the same information. On the day established (during
the week-end), the members of the philanthropic committee met at school and they made
up teams of two people. Each team chose a street and they went door to door, initiating
individual and group conversations with the people living in the village. They explained in
their own words, with words that could be understood by their interlocutors, what HIV/AIDS
is, how it is transmitted, what protection methods there are. At the end of the
conversations they also gave the leaflets they have previously prepared. They invited
young people who showed to be more interested in the subject to meet them afterwards
(on the following week-end) and continue the discussion.
Chapter 8 – Initiative clubs for the youth

The initiative club for the youth is a specific type of social action targeted to young people,
an action that the priest can initiate in his parish, either alone or in collaboration with the
religion teacher and/or other teachers from the school. The purpose of the youth club is to
form and strengthen young people's character, so that they might grow up to be
responsible members of the parish and of the community, to be able to make informed and
responsible decisions, to show compassion, tolerance, respect for the others, to be brave
and honest. The activities of the club combine the process of learning by practical projects
for the community with fun and spending the spare time in a pleasant way. These activities
can concentrate on community problems such as HIV/AIDS and family violence, but other
problems can be discussed, as for example: poverty, environment pollution, drug
consumption or other problems that are important for young people and for the community.

The club can be made up of children and young people from the community, but also from
children and young people from outside the community. They should always take part
voluntarily in the activities of the club. In parallel with keeping and promoting the Christian
values and morality, the clubs should be open for the entire community, not closed within
the orthodox parish. That is why the clubs must be encouraged to include gender diversity,
diversity of social, economic, religious and ethnic status of their members, in such a way
that the clubs themselves promote tolerance and accepting, collaboration for the common
welfare, beyond any differences. The participation of children and young people in the
youth club activity can be beneficial not only for young people, but also for their parents,
because the messages promoted will also get to parents, through the young people.

The activities of the club must be established together with the youth, depending on their
interests and options, and then adjusted for the purpose or objective mentioned above.
The young people can organize and perform projects for the community in several areas of
interest, such as: culture and education, civic education, environment protection, helping
poor families. Here are some examples of projects: Christmas Caroling (singing carols for
children from poor families who live within the community, singing carols in hospital or in
social assistance institutions); the Good Samaritan (gathering and donating products for
disfavoured members of the community), Cleaning Days (involving community members in
cleaning common spaces). These activities can be accompanied by or even bear
compassion messages or urges to tolerance and social involvement, including messages
pertaining to HIV/AIDS and family violence prevention.

Premises for the success of the initiative club for the youth

limited alternatives or no alternatives for young people to spend their spare time
leave room for such an initiative;
the natural enthusiasm that is specific for children and teenagers;
the natural desire of humans, therefore of young people, to feel that they are useful
and to work for the benefit of the others.
Key factors for success

the relation of the priest with young people should be warm, human, it must be
based on mutual respect and on understanding the needs and specificity of the age
of the members of the club;
encouraging voluntariate; young people must voluntarily become involved in the
activities of the club, and not because their parents or teachers have sent them to
join the club;
involving the members of the club in actions for the development and coordination
of activities;
including recreational activities amongst the club’s activities – such activities are
meant to answer to the natural need of young people to have fun;
the collaboration between the priest of the community with the religion teacher; the
latter directly interacts with young people at school, during religion classes, and
they inform the youngsters about the fact that there is such a club, about the topics
and problems approached when meetings are held;
there should be a place where the club activities are to be performed: the parish
house, the church, the school, the cultural house (if there is such a place), but also
other places, depending on each community resources; also, there should be
minimum material elements that could be used for the activities (stationery, books,
movies, audio-video equipment, furniture, etc.). These can be provided by the
parish, by the members of the community or by local or central non-governmental
organizations that function in this field.

It is very important that you do not try to turn the club into an "annex” of the Church.
The club can be a means of bringing young people closer to the Church, but they
should walk freely on this path and they should want and ask for this thing themselves.

Successful examples in the activity of initiative clubs for the youth

EXAMPLE 1: Onestin
Throughout the period when the project was implemented, we have seen several good
practice examples for organizing youth clubs. One of these examples is Onestin, a group
of kind young people of the city Onesti, who have gather around two priests that are just
as kind. Everything began in 2002, when the two priests organized a choir for singing
carols on Christmas. Young people were very eager to participate. Their objective was to
sing carols for their colleagues, professors and families. Carol singers continued their
mission even in the following years, and they started singing carols for more and more
people: local institutions and local public authorities, local companies, etc. Today, they are
regular visitors in the city, and people cannot wait to see them wearing Santa Clause
costumes and wandering the streets singing carols.

But the relations amongst them became even stronger and they decided to do more than
sing carols once a year. With the money they have collected and having been efficiently
organized by the two priests, the youngsters went on their first trip: they went to see
"Sambata de Sus" monastery near Fagaras and they went higher into the mountain, at
Rameti. When they returned, they realized how good they felt together and they wished to
spend even more time as a group. In the following years, the same priests organized
different activities with and for the youngsters. These activities turned into regular activities
and have consolidated the group. Today, the group meets or executes an activity at least
once a week. They take trips in nature, they play football, volleyball, they have theme
parties, where they sing, eat pizzas and dance, they attend church services together, they
act in theatre plays that they themselves organize, they go to the movies together, they
participate in charity activities, they learn games, they learn how to play folk and rock
music, these and many others are the activities that youngsters do, every day coordinated
by the two priests.

The moment they became a non-governmental organization, their activities became more
numerous and more diverse. Besides, they created their own website (www.onestin.ro), so
that the entire world could hear about them. They have kept the choir and they created
their own theatre team and moreover, they succeeded in directing two plays that would
make even the professionals jealous. They have organized the Day of Christian Women.
They organized a campaign against divorce, by giving leaflets that were meant to inform
and to raise awareness about this problem. They organized a fund raising campaign in the
city in order to financially support their activities and they succeeded in raising an
important amount of money. Their most recent achievement is the fact that they have
accessed funds within our project for a small project targeted to prevent violence at home
and violence in schools.

Everything was organized together with the two priests, with hard work and many
sacrifices. Today, Onestin is a living body, a kind of missionary parish of youngsters, a
body that breathes, is born and feeds on life and love for everything that is good and
beautiful. Thus, youngsters step on this lane together with the priests who coordinate
them, happy that they have discovered the true beauty of life.

EXAMPLE 2: Step by Step

Another successful initiative club is the one that was established in 2006 in the city of Roman. Its
members have called the club "Step by Step". The club is made up of high school students, 9th
and 10th graders, who go to a high school in the city. The youngsters participate voluntarily in the
club’s activity. The club has rules, awards and sanctions that were especially established by the
members of the club. The club's activities are coordinated by the religion teacher, who is also a
priest, and there are other teachers from the high school and community members who participate
in the club’s activities.

The members of the club meet voluntarily, once a week, in one of the spaces within the school, in
order to plan the club's activities together with the priest, who is also their religion teacher. The
club has performed several activities: small information campaigns, such as the campaign
organized for the 8th of March, when youngsters have elaborated short informative materials and
materials for raising awareness about family violence, and have distributed the materials to every
man who passed by the high school that day. They have created the radio of the high-school; they
have organized actions for helping their colleagues in need; and the action "A tea for everyone”,
when in winter, every morning when they arrived at school, each of the 500 students who go to
their school received a hot cup of tea that the club’s members had prepared.

But they also meet in order to have fun and to spend their spare time as pleasantly as possible.
They have become friends very quickly, they have become very close and they facilitate
communication and working together beyond the limits of the club. For them, the club is therefore a
"clean and positive” pretext for meeting and for spending time together, an ideal situation for the
priest who has established the club, and who has therefore the possibility to persuade them to use
their energy and enthusiasm towards actions that target their welfare as a group and the welfare of
the community.
The most important aspect associated to the existence of this club and of any other club created
following this example is that the youngsters have now a good reason to meet somewhere else
than on the street, outside their house, they can meet somewhere where they can be creative,
where they can do something concrete, fun and useful, where they feel that they use their time, not
waste it, where they can use their energy for a good purpose, a place where they feel respected,
useful and valorized. All these are performed with the help and guidance of the coordinating priest
who serves as their role model and as the best example for living following the Christian values.

Children and youngsters tend to naturally "do something”, “help”, “perform", "become involved".
For them, these actions are a way of playing grown ups. It is their own way of learning. And if the
adult knows how to understand this or to remember this, he will only have to provide them with a
reason and a "playground” and do extraordinary things with them. When this adult is a priest who
is very close to the youngsters, the results are even more beautiful because they are enriched with
the spiritual aspect. This is exactly what the coordinating priest of Roman did, and what many
others like him have done.
Chapter 9: Campaigns targeted for informing and raising awareness

If we were to define a campaign for raising awareness as accurately as possible, we might

say that such a campaign is the sum of several communication activities by means of
which organizers try to send a message pertaining to a certain topic, through several
communication channels, to a number of people, with the purpose of drawing the public’s
attention to a problem or to a real phenomenon that occurs in people’s lives. Only later,
after people have become informed and have been sensitized following the campaign and
only after they have acknowledged that the problem approached in the campaign is a real
one, can one intervene in order to educate, inform, create behaviors and change attitudes
and mentalities within the community.

The main advantage of a campaign meant for raising awareness is the possibility to
communicate a message to many people who have relatively reduced resources.

There are different communication channels that can be used at parish level in a campaign
targeted to raise awareness and to inform: direct communication (particular conversations
with parishioners, group discussions, sermons), public events, written communication
(written informative materials: books, leaflets, posters, etc.), mass media (radio, television,
newspapers and magazines). These materials can be used in different combinations.

Recommendations – how to approach aspects associated to HIV/AIDS and family

violence in a campaign targeted to raise awareness and to inform

Although it may seem difficult, it is not that hard to organize a campaign within the
community: Planning a campaign targeted to raise awareness and to inform supposes
going through several essential stages:
the analysis of the current situation – where we are, what is the information,
behavior, attitude that people have about a certain aspect (in the current situation,
HIV/AIDS and family violence);
establishing the objectives – what we want to obtain (the objectives help us
establish exactly what we want to obtain. For example, if we want to draw people’s
attention about a phenomenon of if we want to inform them about a certain topic);
establishing the strategy – how we will reach the objectives. The following aspects
will be established during this stage:
what is our target group (we address to young people or adults, women or
men, etc.);
which are the messages that we wish to send to the target group/the
which communication channels with the target group can we choose;
what are the activities that we want to organize in order to achieve our goals.
the actual action – implementing the activities, changing the plan into actual action;
the control – monitoring activities performance, how activities are implemented,
revising or changing the activities (where applicable), verifying the impact that the
activity of raising awareness and informing has on the audience/target group.

Key factors for the success of a campaign targeted to raise awareness

Identifying the problems by talking to parishioners. It is essential that the priest

identify the specific problems that exist at community level, by talking to
parishioners before starting a campaign, and then make the problems the object of
the campaign.
Choosing the right time. It is very important to choose the best time for launching
such an initiative; for example, a campaign targeted to raise awareness about
family violence could be best initiated around the 25 th of November - the
International Day for Fighting Violence Against Women, when other such
campaigns are also initiated in the local or national media.
Involving the other community agents. It is equally important to involve the other
community agents who are perceived as positive opinion leaders – teachers, other
priests, representatives of the city hall, and respected members of the community. If
expressed publicly, their attitude towards the problem approached in the campaign
can influence how the other community members perceive the problem in question.
Short messages. If you want your messages to be best received by parishioners,
the messages must be short (12-24 words); they must be easy to remember
(formulated in simple words); they must be positive (expressed with affirmative
Unitary and consistent messages. The messages sent must be unitary and
consistent. Attention! The message of the campaign can impact differently,
depending on how it was formulated.
Written materials. Provide written materials (for example, leaflets), if there are such
materials, so that community members might read them afterwards and be able to
better understand the message.

A positive aspect in approaching the problem of family violence and HIV/AIDS is the
preoccupation of the media for these two phenomena. Lately, several campaigns were
organized, which were targeted to inform, raise awareness and sensitize about
preventing family violence, about the rights of the children, women and persons
infected with HIV. These campaigns have initiated public debates and have cleared the
way for future initiatives in this respect.

Successful examples for organizing campaigns targeted to raise awareness

Between the 15th and the 25th of November, a campaign was organized in Craiova, with the purpose
of raising awareness about family violence. The campaign was initiated by priests from the social
department of the Archiepiscopate of Oltenia and it benefited from the support of several public
institutions and private companies, amongst which there were the County Authority for Public Health,
the School Inspectorate of Dolj, the Department for Social Protection, non-governmental
organizations functioning in the field and one of the media trusts from the county. The peak of the
campaign was reached with the special events that were organized on the 25th of November - the
International Day for Fighting Violence Against Women. The campaign was organized under the
motto "Let’s say NO to family violence” and it targeted to sensitize the people of Craiova, especially
young people between 14 and 25, about family violence.

The campaign included several activities:

public debates about family violence; drawing competitions organized in schools and high-
organizing a series of live shows broadcasted at "Logos” Radio, belonging to the Metropolitan
Seat of Oltenia, a series of shows that were dedicated to the subject of the campaign "Fighting
against family violence”. Specialists in different fields and priests were invited, and they become
involved in family violence cases, listeners could ask questions and receive the answers they
A group of young people collaborated with the local organization CRONOS (resource centres for
non-governmental organizations) and they created a forum-type play about family violence. For
this type of plays, during the first part actors act just as the play was written. The, the audience is
asked to comment upon what they have seen on stage and propose changes in the script (in the
characters' behaviour) or even replace the characters and act instead of them. This is made in
order to generate, through their own interpretation and according to their own vision, an efficient
solution for the situation presented, in order to solve the problem presented as a subject for
debate during the first part of the play;
The campaign reached its peak on the 25th of November with a press conference.
In order to organize all aspects, there was a series of preliminary meetings with the campaign
partners, meetings that established the message of the campaign, the target public, the roles and
responsibilities, the resources needed and the distribution of the activities schedule. And because the
Church involvement in solving certain current problems of the society, such as family violence, is
always an interesting subject for the media, therefore a subject that can be easily presented in the
media, this, together with the above-mentioned elements, has contributed to the success of the
campaign and has helped sending the message to many people.
Chapter 10 – Activities in schools

Most of the times, it can happen that the activities organized for preventing HIV/AIDS and
family violence within the community, be performed at the same time by priests and by
other community leaders and agents. It is ideal that these activities:
Be integrated in an unitary effort at community level;
Be supported and jointly performed where there is an agreement about the content
presented. For example, if the Specialty Department from the City Hall organizes a
campaign for preventing HIV infection where they promote abstinence, fidelity and the
use of condoms as prevention method, then the parish can only join the campaign for
the section "Preventing HIV by abstinence and fidelity", a section that it approves of;
Must not mutually attack one another, lest they create even more confusion in a public
that is already insufficiently informed;
Be complementary and continual.

This is the only way that we can expect to obtain a durable change of the attitudes and
behaviors of community members.

School is the first community actor with which the priest must coordinate the activities
pertaining to the prevention of HIV/AIDS and family violence. It is obvious that school is
highly important for forming the personality, attitudes and set of values of any child, who
will become an adult. This formation occurs in school, throughout a relatively long period,
and this sometimes decisively influences the child's evolution towards their adult life. That
is why the information that children receive here, the activities they perform, the attitudes,
opinions and behavior of the teachers represent landmarks in establishing the youngsters’
system of values.

The presence of the priest next to the religion teacher during school activities it is an
necessary aspect that might influence this process. The priest can thus continue,
consolidate and extend the formation of children in the spirit of Christian values, an
education that was initiated by the Church. A part of this process is creating sound
attitudes about HIV/AIDS and family violence and sound attitudes before those suffering
from these problems. The priest’s participation in thematic activities in school thus
represents a welcome initiative that can be included in a more complex plan – for example
an initiative for preventing family violence which is to include sermons, pastoral visits, a
campaign targeted to inform, and other such actions. The priest can even participate in or
initiate punctual actions, together with the teachers:
Curricular activities: participation in and thematic discussions during religion classes, in
civic education classes, in the classes for health education, for an event such as the 1 st
of June – Children’s Day, the 8th of March – Women’s Day, 25th of November - the
International Day for Fighting Violence Against Women or the 2 nd of December – the
moment when Romania celebrates the International Day Against HIV/AIDS and of
discrimination against HIV-infected persons; or
Extra-curricular activities: activities targeted to inform and sensitize community
members with the help of pupils and students during the above-mentioned days or on
other occasions, visits in hospitals, where HIV-infected persons are hospitalized, etc.
The priest can also participate in other activities organized in school – thematic
competitions, local events, etc.

As we have said before, the media is preoccupied by these two problems, a fact that
represents an advantage for community approach of the problems pertaining to family
violence and HIV/AIDS. Lately, several campaigns were organized, which were targeted to
inform, raise awareness and sensitize about preventing family violence, about the rights of
the children, women and persons infected with HIV. These campaigns have initiated public
debates and have cleared the way for future initiatives in this respect. Schools have
organized and still perform programmes and project addressed to pupils, pertaining to the
theme of HIV/AIDS prevention, non-discrimination of HIV-infected persons and preventing
family violence. Therefore, there is a favorable environment for involving the priest as an
actor and community leader in the school’s thematic activities.

Recommendations for performing in schools activities pertaining to HIV/AIDS and

family violence

Just like in the case of the other activities that a priest can performed in the community,
in order to perform and implement activities in school it is necessary to create and
establish a good collaboration with the religion teacher and with the other teachers;
In parallel with their own involvement in the school’s activities, in your turn you must
involve the school in the parish activities and life;
If you do not have any experience in working with children and youngsters, you should
take into account their expectations, behaviors and needs, which are different from the
adults'. You must know that it takes patience and love to understand them and it takes
tact to approach them;
When talking to them, you should have a warm and friendly tone;
Provide accurate and clear information. Most of the times, youngsters are better
informed and much more exigent when it comes to judging the quality of the
information that adults provide, but at the same time they do not have the capacity of
clearly distinguishing correct information from incorrect information, because they are
not grown ups and because that the information they received are sometimes
Do not preach them;
Avoid giving them advice and try to make them ask questions to themselves, identify
problems and find solutions;
Be honest with them when it comes to your intention. Children and youngsters maintain
their soul uncorrupted by the compromises and problems of adulthood, and they also
maintain this natural ability of feeling if the person talking to them really believes what
they say or if they are only "politicians".

Successful examples for organizing activities in schools

“Young people for young people against HIV/AIDS” is the name of the project initiated by a group of high
school students from the “Anghel Saligny” College of Bacau. Guided by their form master, they have decided to
learn, to teach and to inform the others about HIV/AIDS. During a first stage, young people were trained in a
training group for trainers, in order to learn how to approach such problems, at teachers or priests level.
Afterwards, students began to work on site – they went and talked to several priests from Bacau county. With
the desire and enthusiasm that is specific for them, the adolescents have explained young people and adults
what this virus means, how it is transmitted, how we should treat a person who was infected with HIV. When
performing their activities, the students were confident that when addressing to young people from parishes,
they will easily find a common language that will enable them to talk about the risks and methods for HIV/AIDS
prevention, in such a way as to facilitate the process of raising awareness.
Several types of activities were performed during this project: Information session held with young people from
several parishes; the distribution of informative materials; organizing some special events (meetings and
marches around the area where the school is situated, with banners and placards bearing messages urging not
to discriminate HIV-infected persons) together with the young people from the parishes they visited.
Chapter 11 – Resources in the field of HIV/AIDS and family violence

Within the Church:

Within the Romanian Patriarchy, Metropolitan Seat or the Diocese to which you belong,
you can ask help or information from:
The Department Church and Society of the Romanian Patriarchy
Diocese Social Missionary Sector;
Press Office;
Specialized advisers (missionary social adviser, social assistance inspector, press

Within the local public and private institutions:

1. The General Department for Social Assistance and Children Protection at county
2. The County School Inspectorate;
3. The County Authority for Public Health – the department for promoting health;
4. Family doctor and/or medical assistance from the city/village;
5. Non-governmental organizations (NGO) that are active in the fields of HIV/AIDS
and family violence, existing at local or county level;
6. Health mediator.

Institutions and non-governmental organizations existing at national level:

The National Agency for Family Protection, existing within the Ministry of Labour,
Family and Equal Opportunities and within county offices;
The National Agency for Children’s protection, existing within the Ministry of Labour,
Family and Equal Opportunities;
The Ministry of Education and Research through County School Inspectorates;
The National Agency Against Drugs, through its county Offices;
The Ministry of Administration and Internal Affairs, through the departments that are
specialized in preventing violence;
The International Organization for Orthodox Christian Charities (www.iocc.org);
“Salvati Copiii” Foundation (Save the Children Foundation) (www.salvaticopiii.ro);
The National Union of the Organization of the HIV/AIDS-infected people (UNOPA)
Romanian Angel Appeal (www.raa.ro);
Romanian Association Against-AIDS (ARAS) (www.arasnet.ro);
The Centre Partnership for Equality (www.cpe.ro);
The Association for Promoting Women in Romania (www.apfr.ro);
Sensiblu Foundation (www.fundatiasensiblu.ro);
The National Coalitions of non-governmental organizations involved in Programmes
Pertaining to Violence Against Women (www.nuviolenta.ro).

For more information you can also access the following websites: