Hats off to President Bush for continuing to rally the nation against the most unrelenting global disaster of our times: the AIDS pandemic. In 2003, Bush introduced his five-year President's Emergency Plan on AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)the largest commitment by any nation in history to fight a single disease. Last week, the President asked the U.S. Congress to continue and to expand AIDS funding by granting an additional $30 billion to the cause. We at World Relief salute this bold action, not only for the very necessary funds, but also for the clear message America is giving our world about its compassionate commitment to help millions in need.
Christian non-governmental organizations and their faith-based partners in the developing world have played an important role in the PEPFAR initiative. My organization, World Relief, was one of the first to receive funding. We have invested the millions of dollars we received from the federal government into mobilizing and equipping thousands of churches across Haiti and sub-Saharan Africa. These churches are now taking the lead in their communities by developing youth prevention clubs and caregiving ministries for orphans, vulnerable children, and people living with HIV/AIDS.
Under the PEPFAR expansion plan, which would double the current government funding, faith-based organizations could continue to have great impact. The new plan significantly increases the number of people targeted by prevention programs and earmarks funds for orphans and vulnerable children, both groups to whom faith-based organizations can contribute deep, sustained commitment. The plan also calls for building the capacity of local AIDS relief partners, marking a continued departure from a donor-recipient mentality ...1