TWR-Africa has been working with Kerus to bring messages of abstinence, faithfulness and life skills development to people across southern Africa. Kerus' goal is to offer hope and better health through practical character-based programmes. Their It Takes Courage! Youth Curriculum is combined with on-the-ground training, radio programming and mass media strategies to get their message out.
Kerus believes the Church is uniquely positioned to change the course of HIV/AIDS within Africa. It Takes Courage! is a multi-tiered educational strategy designed to permeate the community with life-saving messages that will reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and other behaviourally-driven health problems.
It Takes Courage! was implemented in Angola in January 2007. Since then, more than 600 pastors and teachers have been trained to teach the It Takes Courage Youth Curriculum in their communities. The Ministry of Education has been excited to see the enthusiastic response of the teachers and students to this programme.
In August 2009 Kerus and TWR launched their Angola Radio Strategy. This is a joint project involving RISE International and Willow Creek Community Church in the field. Dr. Marcia Ball and Dr. Jennie Cerullo from Kerus travelled to Angola to train pastors and youth leaders to lead listening groups when the programme airs. TWR's Tom Watkins shared TWR's vision with the group and Pastor Kalumba Rodrigues from RTM-Angola spoke about TWR in the country. More than 100 people attended the training and all involved were excited to see what God is doing.
The Kerus Radio Project is the media outlet for the It Takes Courage! educational programme. Kerus and TWR work with local churches and faith-based organisations to train local leaders to facilitate listening groups of children and families. These listening groups discuss the storylines and content of the radio programme Grandma's Village. They are introduced to Jesus and explore the relevance of biblical teaching to the dramas.
Grandma's Village is set in a fictitious rural African village. Grandma is raising two of her grandchildren whose parents died from AIDS. Grandma loves Jesus and teaches her grandchildren to love their neighbours, stand strong, and courageously do what is right while embracing a biblical worldview. The series consists of 32 half-hour programmes that will be aired on a weekday, with a repeat on the weekend.
Grandma's Village explores character traits such as respect, patience, self-control, gratitude, honesty and empathy. The episodes deal with topics of forgiveness, peer pressure, choices and consequences, and the prevention of HIV/AIDS. The aim of the programme is to equip young people and children with life skills and to enable them to make the right decisions in difficult circumstances.
"The commitment to It Takes Courage! is huge,” says Ball. “We had hoped to launch 50 groups, and in the end had 70-plus groups."
There will be groups for youth aged 7-10, 11-15 and 16-19, for single young adults aged 20-35, as well as for parents, grandparents and families. These listening groups are ministry tools that reach outside churches and into colleges and the broader community.
"I think the response we received at the training in Angola is a great example of what can be accomplished through partnership," noted Watkins, TWR's U.S. Director of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships. “We had a large group of people in Angola who had been impacted by on-the-ground ministry for over two years and had developed great buy-in on the ITC! Curriculum. This paved the way for a strong and enthusiastic endorsement of the radio strategy as they already understood the value of the content that we are presenting."
Listening group facilitators will meet monthly for orientation and preparation, to share feedback, to discuss issues that have come up and to build a community of pastors and leaders from various churches."We anticipate that tens of thousands of people in the listening area will follow the dramatic adventures of Grandma's Village in homes and local churches, and that more than 1,000 listeners will explore the life-saving principles of the drama series in discussion groups," says Ball.
RTM in Angola is currently finishing programme production in Portuguese. Grandma's Village will be broadcast from October this year.
Published 19 November 2009