Education Projects Updates

Barriers to HIV testing for migrants in Ireland

Ifedinma Dimbo has stepped off our Board of Trustees to join our staff team as a researcher.

Ifedinma in Barcelona.

Ifedinma will be asking the question “How can we overcome barriers to HIV testing for African migrants in Ireland?” Drawing from her expertise as a PhD candidate in UCC and her work on migrant experiences of our health system, Ifedinma is looking forward to getting stuck into the challenges of the research.

She hit the ground running when gaining a place on the M-Care project of the European AIDS Treatment Group which draws 20 activists and practitioners on HIV and migrants from across the continent for shared learning. Her first session with M-Care was in Barcelona in March; she will be in Frankfurt in May and in Warsaw in July.

M-Care group at their first session in Barcelona.

 

 

 

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U = U

Health News: In 2017, leading global health bodies confirmed that when it comes to HIV, Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U).

This means that if a person has an undetectable viral load (linked to adherence to their medication) then sexual transmission of HIV is impossible, even if a condom is not used.

In education and training sessions, the enormity of U=U is starting to hit home. How we communicate risk and perceived risk to a group has radically changed. Those living with HIV are no longer, necessarily, the focus of attention. When it comes to transmission risk our energies have shifted to those who are unaware of their status as opposed to those who are aware and taking control of their health. This redefining and refocussing is exciting and opens up a new chapter in approaching the end of the pandemic.

Yet, I have been reflecting on why it takes a medical advance and the concrete realities of transmission for us to be enthused in affirming the positive status of those living with HIV in our midst. In the Bible it says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” People living with HIV have always carried a dignity and identity as image bearers of God. Treatment advances do not necessitate that truth from being real.  It was always there and it has always called us to live in resistance to the stigma that so many encounter.

 

Image: Prevention Access Campaign

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Culture and Faith in the North East Inner City

In March, 30 leaders and representatives of a broad range of faith communities and faith-based organisations from Dublin’s North East Inner City gathered together to explore their shared past, present and future. Led by the partnership of ACET Ireland and Dublin City Interfaith Forum, the group were inspired in their conversations and new connections by the inputs of the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Micheál Mac Donncha, Fr. Peter McVerry and Salome Mbugua of Akidwa.

Peter McVerry’s comments struck a particular chord as he encouraged those attending to “spend your week demonstrating the dignity of all, which is declared at your worship services on the weekend.” Those weekly activities include supporting asylum seekers and refugees, addressing unemployment, international development, community development, youth work, prison work, responding to addiction, homelessness and HIV, education, leadership development, supporting migrant women, working with travellers, encouraging the creative arts and much more.

“This is a great opportunity to establish a positive framework for interfaith work in this local community of rich diversity and significance,” commented Adrian Cristea of the Dublin City Interfaith Forum.

“For some faith communities and organisations there is little connection with the area in which they worship and operate. Our hope is that this event will start to change that,” stated Richard Carson of ACET Ireland.

Cover Photo: Fr. Michael Casey (Salesians, Our Lady of Lourdes, Sean McDermott St), Br. Pat Geraghty (Christian Brothers, North Richmond Street), Michael O’Sullivan (Columbans, Store Street).

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Micheál Mac Donncha.

Fr Peter McVerry addresses the group.

Salome Mbugua of Akidwa addressed the need for positive integration of migrant in Ireland and the role faith communities can play at a local level. “To make integration happen we must work in solidarity. We must move beyond words and create opportunities for everyone.”

Joe Kerrigan (Trinity Church Network, Gardiner Street), Philip McKinley (Discovery Gospel Choir, Cathal Brugha St), Dave Gardner (Urban Soul/Street Pastors).

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Culture, Faith and Community Event

Learning from the past and looking to a shared future: 

You are invited to this important upcoming event which is part of Dublin’s North East Inner City’s regeneration project (www.neic.ie). We are gathering leaders and members from a  wide range of faith communities and faith-informed organizations in the NEIC, alongside community workers, activists and residents engaged with issues of justice, diversity, integration and community development.

Speakers include:

  • Terry Fagan – North Inner City Folklore Project
  • Salome Mbugua – AkiDwA
  • Lord Mayor of Dublin, Ardmhéara Micheál Mac Donncha
  • Father Peter McVerry SJ

All are welcome.

Thursday, 15 March, 9.30-1.00, Edmund Rice House, North Richmond Street, Dublin 1

Hosted by Dublin City Interfaith Forum and ACET.

Thanks to Dublin North East Inner City.

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Happy Christmas!

Thank you all for your interest and support throughout 2017. We are looking forward to 2018 with hope.

We wish all of you a very happy and peaceful Christmas,

the ACET team:

Richard, Terrie, Vivienne, Olivia, Hansi and Lynn

Our office is closed until 8 January 2018.

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World AIDS Day 2017 in Dublin

ACET staff marked World AIDS Day in three counties:

Richard Carson, ACET CEO, was a guest at an evening reception in Áras an Uachtaráin for HIV Ireland, at the invitation of President Michael D Higgins “to mark World AIDS Day, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of HIV Ireland, and to pay tribute to people and organisations working to prevent the spread of AIDS and assisting people living with HIV.”

ACET founder and quilt group coordinator Terrie Colman-Black and Olivia Corbett, care worker, were part of an Intergenerational Plenary at NUI Maynooth, where the Media Studies Department hosted “AIDS and Irish Media: Intergenerational Dialogues“.

Hansi Chisnall travelled to Galway for a conference, HIV and Ageing, hosted by AIDS West.

 

 

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Listening Skills Workshop

ACET recently held a HIV and Listening Skills training day at Living Waters church, a multinational church with Malawian origins, based in the North Inner City of Dublin. This workshop is part of our Migrant-Led Churches project which not only aims to raise awareness of HIV in the faith communities of migrants, but also strives to address root causes of HIV-related stigma.

ACET staff spent a full day training over 20 members who hold a range of leadership and membership responsibilities. Richard Carson brought the participants through the story of HIV, globally and locally. Every statistic, medical update or HIV testing opportunity is handled as an opportunity to challenge HIV-related stigma. The testimonies of church leaders living with HIV prove particularly powerful.

Vivienne Morrow Murtagh encouraged attendees to practice their Listening Skills using the Imago Therapy model, in which to truly listen one must leave your own world, cross over the bridge, and enter the world of the other. “The only thing you bring with you is your passport”, encouraged Vivienne as the disciplines of Mirror -Validate – Empathise were explained.

These training days with leaders and members of Migrant-Led churches encourage a culture of listening to challenge HIV-related stigma and all marginalisation. Pastors, married couples, even identical twins gave helpful feedback on their newly developing listening skills. “I have been in Ireland 7 years and I have never seen anything like this. It’s great! More churches need to do this” commented one participant.

These training days with leaders and members of migrant-led churches, encourage a culture of listening to challenge HIV related stigma and all marginalization. Pastors, married couples and even identical twins gave helpful feedback on their newly found listening skills. “I have been in Ireland 7 years and I have never seen anything like this. It’s great! More churches need to do this” commented one participant.

This project is supported by the MAC AIDS Fund.

                

 

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New Parent/Teen Communication Course Dates in Dundalk

“This course has enlightened me about how to deal with teenagers.” – Jesus Centre Dublin participant.

We know that Parenting is tough. We know that Parenting teenagers can be really tough. That is why we are bringing the vastly experienced staff of ACET Northern Ireland to deliver our Parent/Teen Communication Skills course in Dublin.

We have trained church leaders all over the country on HIV, listening skills, mental health and more. Together with our participants we have identified Parenting as an enormously challenging area, particularly in the context of the generation divide marked by migration from one continent to another. I remember the day a Pastor said to me, over coffee, “Richard, I don’t know how to talk to my 14-year-old daughter. It is like she is speaking a different language.” “You are not alone.” was my reply.

We have already trained parents on our Level 2 course in Jesus Centre Dublin. 100% of participants stated that the course equipped them to be better parents in areas such as Teenage Development, Strategies for Resolving Conflict,  How to Build Self esteem in Teenagers and Talking about Sex and Relationships with Teenagers.  Now we are repeating the same course for new participants

Would you consider joining us as together we explore areas of Conflict and Listening and see how God might equip us to become better parents for our wonderful children?

Course Details:

Saturday 13th May: 9:45am – 3:30pm

Saturday 27th May: 9:30am – 4:00pm

Attendance is required for both days.

Venue: RCCG – Miralceland, Castletown Road, Dundalk, Co. Louth.

Lunch will be provided. All participants will receive a Level 2 Open College Network (OCN) Northern Ireland qualification and will be introduced to further options for learning in this area including the chance to become trainers themselves through a Level 3 course. There is no charge for this course and there are limited places. To book your place contact Richard Carson at richard.c@acet.ie or 0860482094 (On WhatsApp or phone)

This project is funded by the MAC AIDS Fund.

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Valerid and Richard Carson at the GALA Awards.

Awards and Recognition for ACET

ACET’s own Richard Carson was honoured for his work in three award ceremonies in recent months.

First up was the DebSandy Foundation who provide information, support and access to healthcare and advocacy. They presented an award in recognition of Richard’s “valuable contribution to raising health awareness in Ireland.”

Debsandy Foundation award.

The Sunrise Foundation presented Richard with an award at a spectacular event in the Gresham Hotel in Dublin.

Richard Carson accepting Sunrise Foundation award.

Finally, Richard was nominated for the Noel Walsh HIV Activism Award at the 2016 GALAS – Ireland’s LGBT Awards. At a great night at the Mansion House, Deirdre Seery won the award for all her work with the Sexual Health Centre in Cork.

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New Parenting Course for Project Hope

In 2016 ACET Ireland launched a new initiative for parents and those who work with parents.

The Parent/Teen Communication Skills Course is specifically tailored for migrant communities, addressing their particular challenges in raising teenagers within a cultural context different from that in which parents grew up.

The course will be delivered in conjunction with staff of ACET Northern Ireland and is accredited to the Open College Network (NI) at Level 2 (similar to FETAC Level 5-6).  For more details contact Richard Carson at richard.c@acet.ie

This course is part of Project Hope, our initiative with migrant-led and multicultural churches. The need for support in parenting has been identified following extensive consultation with the many church leaders we have trained and their congregants.

By equipping parents in their communication with a new generation of Irish young people we are addressing areas such as sexual health and HIV.

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