Author Avatar



Share post:

Blessed Anuarite Nengapeta is a young Sister of the Holy Family d’Isiro-Wamba
and a midwife who was murdered resisting the sexual demands of a rebel leader in
the Congo in 1964. St Aloysius Gonzaga is a young Jesuit who selflessly gave his
life caring for victims of the deadly plague in Rome in 1591. We entrust the
African Jesuit AIDS Network to their prayer and protection.


Pope John Paul II, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,”
Message for the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2005.

10. At the end of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, I spoke of the urgent need
for a new creativity in charity (cf. Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte no.
50), in order to spread the Gospel of hope in the world. This need is clearly
seen when we consider the many difficult problems standing in the way of
development in Africa: numerous armed conflicts, pandemic diseases aggravated by
extreme poverty, and political instability leading to widespread insecurity.
These are tragic situations which call for a radically new direction for Africa:
there is a need to create new forms of solidarity, at bilateral and multilateral
levels, through a more decisive commitment on the part of all, with complete
conviction that the well-being of the peoples of Africa is an indispensable
condition for the attainment of the universal common good.

May the peoples of Africa become the protagonists of their own future and their
own cultural, civil, social and economic development! May Africa cease to be a
mere recipient of aid, and become a responsible agent of convinced and
productive sharing! … Today more than ever, a decisive condition for bringing
peace to the world is an acknowledgement of the interdependence between wealthy
and poor countries, such that “development either becomes shared in common by
every part of the world or it undergoes a process of regression even in zones
marked by constant progress” (Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 17).


“The Role of Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the Fight against HIV/AIDS
in Kenya” is the thesis topic of Edmond Ouma Ogalo SJ (Eastern Africa Province)
for his Masters in Sociology at the University of Dar Es Salaam. Edmond spent
November-December 2004 in Kangemi doing research. He wants to identify the
methods and approaches of the NGOs to HIV/AIDS, evaluate their efficacy, record
the major successes and failures, and map a way forward.

Over the last three decades or so, Kenya has witnessed a mushrooming of NGOs
both in number and in size. “With the reigning of HIV/ AIDS,” Ouma explained,
“most NGOs claim to be alleviating the problems related to this killer monster
by reaching out to the most vulnerable.” Yet the vast majority of NGOS have
pitched their geographical tents in urban areas, where relatively fewer people
are over-serviced compared with rural Kenya. With visits and interviews, the
researcher found the NGOs in a chaotic state — their unaccounted numbers, their
vague programmes, their unverified locations. This “messy house” has provided an
ideal environment for cheats and looters who, without rendering any services,
fleece the public coffers or donor’s grants of millions of Kenya shillings.

The AIDS NGOs have been thoroughly lambasted and challenged to clean up. In July
the Minister for Health vowed to root out the bogus and parasitic ones, and in
2004 at least 320 turned to be mere brief-case organisations and were de-
registered. Allegations of corruption against Kenya’s National AIDS Control
Council (NACC) forced the Global Fund to withhold over 8 billion shillings
awarded to the country. By contrast, according to Ouma, a proper NGO should be
independent, non-partisan and impartial, a “Centre of Excellence” which makes
intellectual, financial and other human resources readily available to those in
greatest need. The needed change must begin with accountable, responsible and
transparent leadership. Who will do the leading?

As an intern at AJAN, Ouma found the library, specialised on HIV/AIDS in Africa,
to be a great asset. Since AJAN’s mission is to network among the Jesuits in
Africa involved in HIV/AIDS ministry, one benefit is that the library is
connected with a wide spectrum of experience throughout the continent. The
documentation benefits from Jesuit pastors, educators, researchers, social
workers and medical personnel in the field. The greatest challenge for AJAN is
how to fit into the richness and diversity of African cultures. Functioning as a
network within such rich diversity means identifying, appreciating and at times
challenging local or regional cultures. For example, appreciating and promoting
issues of morality when it comes to fidelity, as one of many unsung African
cultural riches.

Contact: Edmond Ouma SJ


Another training camp in Peer Education for Youth Against AIDS took place at our
campsite at Lake Chivero from 13 to 18 December 2004 for youth leaders from
schools, parishes and youth clubs. For last year’s programme, see AJANews no. 17
– April 2004.

The programme involved almost forty young people either learning themselves or
instructing the others. They were mostly from the high density areas of Harare
and a good percentage were out-of-school youth. We were happy to welcome two
Jesuit scholastics from Mozambique: Fernando de Jesus António, who is from
Portugal and doing his regency teaching in Beira, and Horatio Vasco Manuel who
is a junior and looks forward to joining Arrupe College, Harare, in 2005. They
were both very positive about what they had learned and we hope they will put it
to good use in Mozambique.

Contact: Ted Rogers SJ


In ancient times the Hebrews called a variety of skin or surface conditions
“leprosy” (Leviticus 13:1-14). At times they also considered leprous certain
stains which appeared on clothing. Human powerlessness in the face of leprosy, a
contagious disease, generated practical measures of containment which acquired
religious value in Jewish religion. Re-integration into the community required
rites similar to the sacrifice for sin, indicated in Leviticus (Ch. 14) as an
infringement on God’s life-giving virtue.

Today AIDS shows similar signs, and appears to be a more frightening disease
than leprosy. Just like the leper of the past, the person with AIDS today may be
regarded very badly, morally speaking, if his or her illness is seen as the
result of indecent behaviour, against the Law of God. Discrimination and
stigmatization follow, and then the sufferer of AIDS is forced into

However, the Gospel shows how Christ broke social barriers in order to approach
the disinherited. He taught the Law of Love, and gave back to lepers their
dignity as persons created in the image of God. The person with AIDS, just like
the leper, is not diminished in the eyes of God.

A man suffering from leprosy came to Jesus, knelt down, and begged him for help:
“If you want to,” he said, “you can make me clean.” Jesus was filled with pity,
and reached out and touched him. “Of course I want to,” he answered. “Be clean!”
(Matthew 8:2). The touch of Christ is an invitation to approach people with AIDS
and to work for their reintegration in the community. People with AIDS are part
of the Church, the Body of Christ. Thus if there is one person with AIDS, the
Church, the Body of Christ, is affected.

As Christians we are called to make a bridge between persons with AIDS and
society. To dare to approach, touch and bathe someone suffering from AIDS,
especially in the terminal phase, is not impossible even if the task is
sometimes repulsive. Just being close to a person with AIDS can play an
inestimable role. Our visit cannot cure the sick person, or even reduce his
suffering. But there is one thing we can do: tell the patient — probably not
with words but with our silent presence — that he is a grace for us, that the
world could neither imagine nor put up with itself without the support of
suffering existence. To visit, to pray, to touch and to wash, following the
example of Jesus, friend of the poor and the condemned — it is for each of us
to do our part!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *