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December 05, 2003 - Image 17

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-12-05

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supported 47 grass-roots organiza-
tions that focus on AIDS prevention,
education and care.
"We don't fund large international
organizations; we fund on the
ground, like a group in Zimbabwe
that trains peer educators to alert
their peers to the threat of AIDS and
the danger of sexually transmitted dis-
eases," Messinger said.
The Jewish coalition that AJWS
helped create works on an advocacy
level in Washington to make sure
Bush's allotted $15 billion gets to
those who need it.
At a recent conference on faith-
based initiatives and the president's
emergency plan for AIDS relief,
AJWS spoke to hundreds of delegates
at Georgetown University. Faith-based
groups in particular have distin-
guished themselves as likely candi-
dates for humanitarian aid in fighting
In a WHO press release issued on
World AIDS Day, the organization
singled out Bush's $15 million pledge
and the "groundbreaking work of
NGOs and faith-based organizations."


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Faith Obligation

"Faith-based organizations have spe-
cific expertise and capacity in dealing
with the issue of human suffering,
like AIDS," said Guyer, who
described the "visceral" moral impera-
tive that faith groups have on AIDS
"It's a natural fit for faith commu-
nities to be engaged not only in pas-
toral counseling, but also in efforts of
prevention, care and support," she
Excluding organizations that prose-
lytize as they serve soup, Messinger
noted that faith-based groups that do
humanitarian work often are not reli-
gious but merely have roots in world
faiths. AJWS, for example, prides
itself on working as a Jewish group in
the non-Jewish. developing world.
"We follow what we believe are the
obligations of Judaism: tikkun olam,"
or repairing the world, Messinger
said, and an obligation "to reach out
to the stranger and to intercede where
possible to save a life, which is the
case with AIDS." ❑

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