the friend online
22 December 2006

News round-up
Quaker government minister speaks out on HIV/AIDS in South Africa

Following the recent controversy caused by South African Health Minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang's bizarre recommendations for treating HIV/AIDS, the country's Deputy Health Minister, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, has been lauded for her candour and bravery in criticising the Minister and president Thabo Mbeki for propounding 'confusing messages' about HIV/AIDS treatment. In a country where Quakers are a tiny minority, the fact that Madlala-Routledge is a Friend and member of Cape Western Monthly Meeting, is also notable. According to the Cape Argus, 'the minister has broken new ground by taking her family with her for an HIV test and she has called on Mbeki to do the same.' Opposition leader, Patricia De Lille, said 'The deputy health minister's comments will go a considerable way towards restoring South Africa's damaged dignity when it comes to our past failures in the war against HIV/AIDS.'

- Fiona Burtt, Cape Town MM


Responding to diversity

The Commission on Integration and Cohesion, a fixed term advisory body set up by the government, is 'considering how local areas can make the most of the benefits delivered by increasing diversity - but will also consider how they can respond to the tensions it can sometimes cause. It will develop practical approaches that build communities' own capacity to prevent problems, including those caused by segregation and the dissemination of extremist ideologies'.

The Commission is due to report to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in July 2007. It is inviting national organisations, local organisations and individuals to respond to a consultation document, called -'Your chance to tell us what you think', which can be found on their website, www.communities.gov.uk/coic.The closing date for responses is officially 19 January 2007, although it seems that they would in practice accept responses up until the end of January. They have emphasisied that they are very keen to hear from Quakers, and at least one committee at BYM level is planning to respond, but maybe readers would like to take the opportunity to tell the government what things are working in local areas to build cohesive communities – and where local and national Government needs to do more to help diverse communities thrive. Here are their 'Seven key questions for individuals':

1. What does 'cohesion' mean to you? What does 'integration' mean to you? When would you talk about them? What issues do you think they are the answer to?

2. What positive experiences have you had of living in a community with a mix of people from different backgrounds?

3. What, if any, are the tensions between different groups in your local area? What do you think tends to cause these and do you have any thoughts about how to resolve them? Is there anything else you would you like to say about how people of different backgrounds in the UK and in your area get on and how this could be improved?

4. What things do you think help people from different backgrounds feel like they belong? Do you think there are particular values or 'ground rules' for shared life, which are or should be at the heart of society in the UK? What do you think they are?

5. Do people of different backgrounds mix in your area? Do you think they should mix more? Why do you think people might choose not to mix?

6. Do you think the make up of your local community is changing? Do you feel you have enough information about any changes and what they might mean for your life? Have you been able to air any concerns or anxieties you may have about change? Do you feel your needs have been taken into account? What sources of information about your community do you trust?

7. How can people's negative perceptions of and attitudes to people from different backgrounds be counteracted?

There's a reply form on their website, and QPSW would also love to have copies of anything you send – qpsw@quaker.org.uk

- Helen Drewery, Quaker Peace & Social Witness


 


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News round-up

Humbug!
Clare Marie White
Crocodiles & cobras for the Christmas holidays
Rowena Loverance
An orthodox Christian perspective on Christmas
Ian J Prior
Thoughts from the river
Barbara Mitchels
Welcome to Quaker Writers, the new Friend adventure

Quakers & Buddhists together
Clare Griffin
The Grimké sisters
John Lampen
Doing December Differently
Judy Kirby
Be ye doers of the word…
David Boulton
Joshua Whiting: citizen, countryman & Quaker
David Firth
Christmas Spirit
Sally Aspden
Philani’s work
Fiona Burtt
q-eye
eye@thefriend.org

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