Josie Dittrich, Special Assistant to the President of CitiHope International, Public Relations specialist, television producer, missionary, entertainment/singer, joined me for the production of PACCT II. Josie prepared for this trip by procuring and assembling 45 ‘ladies gift bags’ with high-end products from corporate donors for the PACCT Women’s Guild, including: woven shawls from Venus Co., long, lightweight, colorful neck scarves, panties, long-sleeve pajamas, and bed sheet sets from Blair Corp, and lip glosses, shampoo sets and perfume from Maybelline. She also brought four beautifully hand-woven shawls for the PACCT facilitators.
We decided not to give out all the gifts at once, either at the beginning or at the end of the training, but to make a few of the products available as a special presentation each day as tangible expressions of love, affirmation and significance of this training.
At the close of the third day, 25 wise and courageous women in leadership roles in Presbyterian, United Methodist and Assembly of God churches received a Certificate of Participation from CitiHope International, a special badge identifying them as a charter member of PACCT Women’s Guild, and their final gift of appreciation: a gift bag of beauty products from Maybelline.
I wish you could have seen the joy and gratitude on these women’s faces as they sang and danced their way to the front of the room to receive their credentials and gifts. As Dr. Andy Gaston, Chair of the PACCT Committee, read their names one by one, each woman stood to her feet, started singing a song, and danced her way forward with much fanfare and enthusiasm. As the gift-bags were given, they each received a big hug from Josie, who had become their soul friend.
“It would take a whole year’s salary to buy these things here,” once participant said. The delight on their faces revealed a deeper gratitude that the work of women in leadership roles in the church and community was more highly valued.
This incredible cadre of women in leadership roles in the church is now equipped to train and empower others in how to deal with the some of the issues of HIV/AIDS in the congregations. They will be at the forefront, we believe, of the efforts to mobilize the churches to stop the spread of HIV through behavior change and change of heart.