Welcome to the first ARASA newsletter for 2014. This is a very special edition, focused entirely on our Annual Partnership Forum (APF) hosted in Johannesburg, South Africa from 15 to 16 April 2014. We are proud to report that this year’s APF was not only the biggest yet in terms of the number of participants but also the most interactive and engaging APF yet.

In this edition of the newsletter, we zone in on the APF and present an overview of some of the most popular sessions at the Forum through the eyes of several ARASA partners who contributed articles to this edition. Also in this edition, the participants reflect on the activities implemented by their organisations to address key human rights issues discussed during the Forum.

At the conclusion of each APF, a partner is presented with the ARASA HIV, TB and Human Rights Award for having carried out noteworthy HIV and TB related human rights advocacy and training in often challenging political and social climates. For the first time since the inception of the award in 2007, the award was won jointly by Engender Rights Centre for Justice (ERCJ), Zambia and Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ). The Star Communicator Award, which recognises the partner who interacts consistently with other partners as well as the ARASA team and contributes to the quarterly ARASA newsletter on a regular basis, went to the Goomany Centre from Mauritius.  Congratulations to all the winners.

We hope you enjoy this special edition!

Should you have any queries or contributions, please contacts us by emailing Sirka, ARASA’s Communications Officer at sirka@arasa.info. Also visit our Facebook page at Eyespy and Twitter @ARASAcomms to stay in touch with the ARASA team and the rest of the partnership.

Until next time....

Table of Contents:

Overview of the 2014 Annual Partnership Forum

The AIDS and Right Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) held its eighth Annual Partnership Forum (APF) from April 15 to 16 in Johannesburg, South Africa. This year’s APF convened the 73 ARASA partners from 18 countries in east and southern Africa to take stock of experiences and lessons learned during the implementation of capacity strengthening and advocacy activities since the previous meeting in November 2012. The Forum also presented an opportunity to realign the partnership’s advocacy agenda to commonly identified critical issues that are hindering national HIV and TB responses in southern and east Africa.

Engender Rights Centre for Justice and Gays And Lesbians Zimbabwe awarded 2013 ARASA HIV, TB and Human Rights Award

On the evening of 16 April ARASA hosted an award ceremony and dinner to honour the recipients of the 2014 ARASA Human Rights, HIV and TB Award, which was established in 2007 and is presented annually to recognise and support ARASA partner organisations across southern and east Africa who have undertaken ground-breaking work to protect human rights, often in extremely challenging political climates.

COLWHA reflects on the ARASA small grants and winning the 2012 ARASA HIV, TB and Human Rights Award

uring the APF, Annie Banda, Executive Director of the Coalition of Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Malawi (COWLHA), winners of the 2012 ARASA HIV, TB and Human Rights Award, provided partners with advice on how to effectively utilise ARASA small grants, if they are to register success in the implementation of their projects.

Appeal for ARASA partners to strengthen financial sustainability through innovative strategies

CHESO, a proud member of the ARASA partnership, participated in the ARASA Partnership Forum in Johannesburg from 15 to 16 April. Through the information and experience sharing facilitated during the Forum, we deepened our understanding of issues and approaches to be used in Tanzania to more effectively promote a rights-based response to HIV and tuberculosis (TB).

ARASA membership urged to enhance communication

During the Annual Partnership Forum (APF) meeting held in Johannesburg, ARASA partners were asked to enhance communication amongst the partners themselves as well as with the secretariat to profile their organisations’ interventions.

Media space opening up for discussion of LGBTI issues in Malawi

t is no secret that there is still growing homophobia against lesbian, gays, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons across the African continent. This is mostly fuelled by extremist religious and traditional leaders. So entrenched in our society is this homophobia, that any public - let alone secret - discourse over LGBTI issues is rendered a taboo or sin in religious terms. Consequently, the LGBTI community continues to suffer in silence, concealing their sexual orientation or gender identity for fear of the possible reprisals and discrimination, which they may face at the hands of a homophobic society.