With baited breath we read the screaming headlines on June 22,2005 Nation newspaper, “Yes, we have HIV too, say four clergymen.”
For the first time in the living memory of any Kenyan, we witnessed clergy come out in the open without fear or shame about their HIV and AIDS status. In fact l am appalled that some of them have suffered discrimination and stigma in the hands of the church, an institution that is supposed to have protected and even embraced them. But what held my breath was the fact there is a strong feeling now about making the church respond to this disease. Not just acknowledging its existence, but tackling it.
Trans World Radio – Kenya in conjunction with Tearfund launched a Kiswahili HIV/AIDS Pillars Guide manual titled - Jinsi Ya Kukabiliana Kikamilifu na Viini vya HIV na Maradhi ya Ukimwi. The English Translation - Responding more effectively to HIV and AIDS is also available.
Hearing these brave clergymen acknowledge that they had HIV and in a public place has become a plus in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Canon Gideon Byamugisha of Uganda who is believed to be among the first among the clergy to declare he was HIV+ said something strategic. “Many of Africa’s deaths are preventable, postponable and reversible if only we can defeat stigma, shame, discrimination, denial and inaction”- Nation June, 2005. This statement shows a great gap in the efforts of the church and it’s fight against HIV/AIDS. This is the gap that this book addresses in its 24 chapters.
In its highly interactive format, it helps the reader acknowledge not only the existence of the disease but also the growth of stigma and discrimination in the church. This book critically looks at the role of the church and what should be its response. It covers health issues like medicinal drugs, tests for HIV and healthy eating.
What stands out is the format that it has been presented in. After every subject has been highlighted, and discussed, then comes the discussion bit. At the end of the book there are 11 soul searching Bible studies that call for open discussion. This Pillars Guide is meant to be used in small groups. The Bible Studies cover subjects like Attitudes towards the disease, Sex, caring for orphans and widows and God’s amazing love among others.
Church leaders who find themselves overwhelmed with the idea of starting discussions on HIV and AIDS will find this material valuable. This book will not only help them start discussion on this subject but will also help them tackle different areas as far HIV and AIDS is concerned.
A church leader, Faith Based Organization or any individual experiencing difficulties in breaking the silence about HIV and AIDS in the Church should get this book and use it as a tool to do so. Leaders can also purchase it in bulk for their members at discounted prices. They can also encourage their members to get it.
The book, which is now available at Trans World Radio – Kenya situated off Ngong Road on Kamburu drive will soon be in all leading bookshops in Kenya.
The costs are as follows:
Ordinary cost – Kshs.350
Orders above 15 – Kshs.325
Orders above 25 - Kshs.300
Authored by Isabel Carter
Translated to Swahili by – Trans World Radio – Kenya
You can call us and ask for Maria Wanza at 573938/20/46
This review will soon be appearing in The Christian Professional Magazine - the magazine for the society conscious.