Alcoholics Anonymous 

South Africa

 

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Updates


The General Service of Alcoholics Anonymous (G.S.O.) U.S./Canada and South Africa functions as a repository for A.A. members and groups who are looking for the shared experience of the Fellowship. As the global situation related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to develop, we are fully committed to continue to serve as a resource center of shared experience to help navigate this unprecedented public health emergency. 

 It is important to note the G.S.O. is not an authoritative body over our groups, nor does it initiate rules or directives, as each A.A. group and entity is autonomous and decisions are made through its group conscience. Providing guidance on health issues is outside the scope of the A.A. sharing that G.S.O. offers. For anyone experiencing health and safety questions, it is suggested they contact national, provincial and local health authorities for appropriate information. 

 However, in response to the global outbreak, we do have some general experience regarding how some A.A. groups and members have begun to address this issue. Many are following ‘’social distancing’’ guidelines established by local, provincial, and national officials, while at the same time maintaining their recovery and attending digital A.A. meetings. 

 By attending digital meetings, groups can focus on A.A.’s primary purpose: to carry its message of recovery to the alcoholic who still suffers. Many groups have alerted local A.A. offices or hotlines if they are temporarily not meeting in their regular space. Some groups have shared that they are utilizing digital platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, or conducting conference calls. 

A.A. groups are also creating contact lists, keeping in touch by phone, email or social media. Many local A.A. offices, and areas have added information to their websites about how to change a meeting format from “in-person” to a digital platform. A.A. in the digital age has certainly taken on a new meaning in these challenging times. 

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has been declared a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act by the South African Government. In line with the government guidelines all face to face AA Meetings have been temporarily suspended and moved to an online meeting format. Groups that run these online AA meetings need to let their Area Offices know about changes to their meetings, and this will in-turn be updated on this website. Below you will find a list of online AA Meetings in South Africa.

We are here to help by providing a list of resources.

You can view the latest group contact details  HERE. 

General Service Office Website: www.aa.org 

Videos/Audios https://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/videos-and-audios 

https://soundcloud.com/aasafrica

Read/Listen/ASL “The Big Book” and Twelve Steps/Twelve Traditions Book https://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/read-the-big-book-and-twelve-steps-and-twelvetraditions 

A.A. Archives and history https://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/archives-and-history 

A.A.W.S. YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2nfvf9DeDA7QYvLeq4pQ-w 

A.A. Grapevine website: https://www.aagrapevine.org/  

now available free (stories and audios of members stories) www.aagrapevine.org/we-are-here-to-help

Audio, digital, hard copy resources 

A.A. Grapevine YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI9uFLJ__aXT3-At0PlPWUQ 

A.A. Online Intergroup: 

https://www.aa-intergroup.org/ 

Zoom Meetings How To Guide 

Understanding Anonymity:

https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/p-47_understandinganonymity.pdf

Anonymity in Zoom Meetings 



Current Online Meetings

Announcements
No Face to Face Meetings until Lock-down Level 2 - 10 July 2020

 

Dear Members,

 

There is a restlessness in the Fellowship regarding the reopening of physical meetings via our Group structures nationwide; understandably so. We are all yearning to get back to normal. These are  unusual circumstances, unprecedented in our lifetimes.

 

Decisions have been made, not popular with many, but common sense has mostly prevailed. In the past few weeks there have been numerous enquiries as to when we can open our doors again. There was even a group opening despite pleas not to; the result was disastrous - one member tested positive and the rest of the group had to be tested.

 

Decisions made by the structures are made with the information at hand at the time; Conference made a decision not so long ago to await lockdown level 2. In between conferences the Board has the mandate to intervene in matters affecting the Fellowship as a whole; this is such an instance. The Board consequently asked the Class A Trustees to approach the Department of Social Welfare and Development to enquire on our status (AA/Fellowship). The Department reverted to inform us opening can only be contemplated after level 3.

 

Our policy in handling this is therefore correct - it may not be popular or enjoy universal support, but it is legally compliant and is in the best interest and safety of our members. While we all are experiencing frustration, sadness, unhappiness and other negative emotions, we still have resources to comfort each other - sponsors, friends in the Fellowship, zoom meetings, we are not alone unless we choose to be! Even though we cannot physically guide newcomers as is our want, they are not totally left out in the cold - befriend them as best you can in the circumstances and guide them to the best of your ability.

 

Remember, this too shall pass - bear with this inconvenience for a bit longer and together we shall emerge stronger than before, more appreciative of what we have and thankful that we survived a deadly virus so that we can carry on spreading the message and do what we do best - help ourselves and the still suffering alcoholic.

 

Thank you to all those in service who are keeping the doors open via technological means, thank you to those who attend meetings and thank you all in advance for your patience, understanding and support. I wish you and your families all the best during these trying times.

Regards Joe P

Board Chairman

 
Message from the Trustees - 19 March 2020
Dear Area Chairperson,

Online Meetings
In light of the number notifications we have been receiving from groups not opening their doors owing to the spread of Coronavirus it has become necessary for The Trustees of the Fellowship to consider contingency plans until the situation returns to normal. We are also aware that some areas/groups have already made plans but importantly not communicated this through to GSO.   We urge you to please ensure that before you start anything, work with the Area Assembly so that we can coordinate these activates in a controlled manner when Area Assembly passes this information on to GSO.  The Board and AA as a whole recognise the autonomy of each group and in these challenging times we hope we can work together.

We suggest groups in conjunction with their Area Assemblies consider the following:
  • If your group is not going to open, PLEASE inform GSO officially THOUGH your Area Office so that we can update the website.
  • Create meetings on-line, preferably at the same time as the group has their regular meeting.
  • Inform members that there would be no cost involved.
  • Anonymity is assured for video meetings as members choose to use their cameras or not.
  • Members can attend the physical meeting itself, as long as they adhere to the groups directives regarding the best practises suggested by them.
  • Groups can also stream their online meetings from their venue for those who may not be able to attend.
  • A list of online meetings will be posted on the AA website (link to follow).
  • Register the meeting with GSO so that we can compile a list of online meetings and publish nationally.
  • Information required:
    • Day, time and duration of meeting (online meetings should be live at least 15 minutes before the start)
    • When registering the meeting clear instructions including links, passwords, app to download and access codes must be forward on to GSO to make it simple to join a meeting.
    • Specify if there are any limitation regarding the number of attendees.
    • Contributions for the meetings could be sent via EFT to your area office – we still have expenses to pay.
  • Recommend that people keep a close phone network with one another, using available media such as What’s App, sms’s etc.
We suggest that the GSR of the group organises a group meeting soonest in conjunction with their Area Assembly to plan the way forward so that information can be filtered through to GSO for national information and publication.

In Fellowship and Service,

Your Trustees



 
Message from the East Rand Area - 16 March 2020

Hi all.

 

Due to the COVID-19 Virus doing the rounds at the moment , any meeting held needs to keep a register of attendees.

This is just in case a member comes forward to say they have the virus , so that other members can be contacted to warn them.

 

There is no reason at the present time that meetings may not go on, However some groups may prefer to suspend/close during this time until mid April 2020.It is up to your Group conscience.

Please maybe have a meeting to discuss this matter with your group members.

If a meeting chooses to close/suspend please let me know so that I can put a notice onto the Area Website.

 

National Convention in Durban , over the Easter Weekend has been postponed indefinitely , due to Government restrictions on gatherings of a 100 people or more.

 

I will keep you informed as to when any further developments take place.

 

See below some guidelines :-

 

It remains that group conscious comes into effect .

Please check number 8. Very important to keep a list of attendees.

a. Groups have come to the conclusion that, should AA become a hotspot for the transmission of the virus, it will undermine our ability to carry the message,  now and in the future.

b. Groups have admitted that, on the whole, AA groups have a number of risk factors to manage: visitors from abroad and other cities, our frequent attendance at multiple groups, smokers, people whose health is otherwise vulnerable in early recovery, older members….

c. Groups have reminded themselves that precautions, carefully considered, are an act of loving service and can be a demonstration of our commitment to do the “next right thing”.

 

This has led to a number (not surprisingly, 12…) of straightforward practices adopted by group conscience, until such time that public health authorities tell us that the risks have passed:

1. There will be no catering (coffee, cookies…)

2. Rather than “passing the bag”, there will be a box on the table

3. Literature will not be laid out but rather managed by the librarian, and other actions that require handling objects will be minimized

4. There will be no hand holding at the end of meetings

5. People will need to make their own decisions about hugging or other greetings with people they know well, but one should seek explicit permission before touching another person at a meeting, and “elbow greetings” can rather be encouraged

6. Members who are not feeling physically well for any reason are asked NOT to go to meetings in person, but rather avail themselves of online meetings and the phone list

7.  Members who have been, or suspect they may have been, in contact with someone with the coronavirus are asked NOT to go to meetings in person, but rather avail themselves of online meetings and the phone list

8. The meeting will keep a weekly log of who has attended, with first name and phone or email only. This is in case people at the meeting need to be contacted about possible exposure to the coronavirus. The log will be kept in a safe place and handled only by the designated person.

9. The group will cooperate with government health authorities if requested, e.g., for contact tracing, but keep the nature of the meeting anonymous (e.g., “a group of friends met”, or “a public meeting was held”)

10. We will remain conscious and respectful of other guidelines issued by the facility where we meet and public health authorities.

11. Relevant announcements will be added to the opening of the meeting, e.g., that we keep a log, that we work to minimize touching….

12. All of these measures will be implemented in a spirit of loving service

Good for our health, good for our recovery, good for the group, good for AA, and good for society. That sounds like a good programme to me.

 

This can be very serious , so please do not take it lightly.

 

Yours in Service,

Colin D. - Brakpan

ER Area Chair , Website and Eastrander Editor

 

 

 
Message from JWRA - 23 March 2020
Dear Fellowship Members,

In light of our President’s address to the public on Sunday 15th March 2020, and in keeping with tradition one, “our common welfare should come first”, the JWRA Office recommends that the following guidelines be followed by groups to protect our members and to curtail the impact of the transmission of the Corona virus.

Consideration at group level should be made with respect to the following:
  • Keeping a weekly log of who has attended, with first name and phone or email only. This is in case people at the meeting need to be contacted about possible exposure to the coronavirus. The log will be kept in a safe place and handled only by the designated person.
  • Cooperation with government health authorities where necessary
  • Remaining conscious and respectful of other guidelines issued by the facility where we meet, and public health authorities
  • Relevant announcements being added to the opening of the meeting, e.g. that we keep a log, that we work to minimize touching
  • Physical contact (handshakes, embracing, hand holding at the end of meetings)is discouraged
  • Making hand sanitisers or handwashing facilities available if possible
  • Seating arrangements allowing for social distancing
  • Literature should not be laid out but rather managed by the librarian in an attempt to minimize handling
  • Members over 60, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions, should refrain from attending gatherings of any nature
  • In terms of collection of donations, it is preferable for members to place funds into a stationary container rather passing a bag from member to member
  • Serving of refreshments (and catering) is not advised and should be discouraged
  • Consider postponing all group events (e.g. personal and group thanksgivings)
  • Rallies should be postponed
  • If any member is unwell or has recently travelled internationally or to other cities, he/she should take the necessary precautions and refrain from attending meetings
Furthermore, government has ordered that all schools are to close their doors as of Wednesday 18th March 2020 for a high-level cleaning and sanitisation operation. If your group venue is on school premises and becomes unavailable:
  • You are encouraged to arrange an alternative venue if possible.
  • Should your group not be in a position to do this, online groups are available and members are encouraged to take advantage of such groups

We need to ensure that Alcoholics Anonymous does not become a hotspot for the transmission of the virus, as it will undermine our ability to carry the message now and in the future. We request that these measures be implemented in the spirit of loving service to ensure the safety of all members and visitors alike.

Yours in Service
Mark R
JWRA Chairperson