Religious research as kingpin in the fight against poverty and AIDS in the Western Cape, South Africa

Erasmus, Johannes C. ; Hendriks, H. Jurgens ; Mans, Gerbrand G. (2006-09)

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Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.


This article describes the researchers' efforts to apply the principles of Participatory Action Research (PAR), specifically participation, through the direct involvement of church members in the research. It includes involving them in the design of questionnaires, training and utilizing them as fieldworkers, and finally disseminating the results of the research via workshops aimed at strategizing for change. The research is based on two hypotheses, the first being that, churches and their members are intensely involved in serving both the needs of their own members, as well as the needs of the larger community; and secondly, that churches do not work alone, but are part of networks with other agencies to accomplish their goals. At the outset the article outlines the challenges and points of departure, followed by a chronological account of how this approach was applied in Paarl, a South African community. Finally, an overview of the results of the project is provided.

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