HIV/AIDS for so long has been frowned upon in religious quarters, with some religious leaders dismissing it as an immoral disease, while others say preventive campaigns like the use of condom – promote immorality.
Ms Catharine Harding coordinator of the Bible Society National HIV/AIDS programme, sees it differently.
For her religious institutions have a key role to play in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and the solution to the problem is in the hands of religious leaders.
In her opening remarks to a three days training of trainers workshop for the blind and visually impaired Ms Harding said of religious leaders “it is their responsibility to save people from falling into sin, if they fail to do their sacred duty of saving souls they will have to account for every lost soul,” she said.
Ms Harding disclosed that nowadays some religious leaders fail to preach the truth, or talk about the reality of issues, instead she said “they only preach about things that would appease well-to-do members of their churches who are swimming in sin.”
She called on religious leaders to start preaching about HIV/AIDS and its realities “now that the church has accepted that it is real”
“The church has dashed out of its church environment – its main responsibility which is to preach about abstinence and faithfulness in trying to save souls, – but for years back that has been neglected and it is all about prosperity the church preached about,” she said.
“We want the church to know that HIV/AIDS is not just a moral issue, but a social one. It is a problem that touches every facet of our society, so it is a concern for all of us,” she stressed.
“Regardless of race, colour, sex, ethnicity or social status it is either you are infected, or affected and because of that, we need to look for mechanisms to tackle this [Bubonic plague]” she said.
Highlighting the objectives of the trainers training programme, she explained that the programme is to create awareness within the church; develop a network system through existing NGO’s; preach about salvation, faithfulness and abstinence, and also to ensure that many good Samaritans are developed in churches and religious communities.
Explaining why the visually impaired and the blind, she disclosed that at a recent meeting with some visually impaired, she was surprised to know that they [the visually impaired] have only been hearing about HIV/AIDS and that they [the visually impaired] have not taken part in any workshop to educate them more about the disease.
She said that this was the rationale in targeting the blind for this training programme, adding that “for the very first time they are having HIV/AIDS sensitization documents in braille for the blind and the visually impaired to read.”
Ms Harding disclosed that the training would not only stop to the blind and the visually impaired but, they [Bible Society] will be targeting other groups as well like street kids and other vulnerable groups in the society.
She thanked their Danish sponsors for providing funds on time to carryout their work, and disclosed that their sponsors are very impressive about their activities.
The three-day training of trainers’ workshop for the blind and the visually impaired is being held at the Ephraim Robinson Hall, Signal Hill Road at Congo Cross