Dear All

Good Evening

It is interesting that HIV/AIDS have impact on the religion also. Home and Community based HIV/AIDS Care and Support Programme is observed that the PLHA are converting their religion in Andhra Pradesh after acquiring the HIV/AIDS. They suffer with depression and psychological problems in beginning days and pray in their homes for some days. Later few are converting from Hinduism to Christianity. But it is observed that there is no conversion from Christianity to Hinduism.

With my personal interest I interacted with 15 families who convert from the Hindu to Christians. They shared that Christianity has the flexibility to share the joys and sorrows with the god and the pastors who perches in the regular prayer meetings. Church pastors use the participatory methodology to involve the PLHA to talk with the Jesus. The church pastors do the regular home visit and take care about the PLHA and their children. They provide spiritual counseling regularly and supporting them with nutrition and education support services. When PLHA went for prayer at Sunday they meet all the people at one place and having mutual sharing with them about their lives. These are encouraging the HIV affected families to convert to Christian religion. The children are also following the same religion which they followed by their parents.

This is small information which is going on in grassroots of Andhra Pradesh.


Regards

Abraham Mutluri
Programme Officer
Vasavya Mahila Mandali
Andhra Pradesh

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Comment by Magdalene Kelel on February 17, 2010 at 5:04pm
Hey Abraham

Your blog has made me realize that there is a deep need within us for a sense of belonging. that we long to be appreciated and cared for, a need for connection. SALT creates this within ouselft and the community we live in. it provide an enviroment for support, acceptance and love.

magdalene
Comment by Daniel Olen on February 9, 2010 at 6:31am
Dear Abraham

I am delighted to hear from your experiences in the community your're in and my addition to this scenario is that 'because of stigma and discrimination that exist amongst people outside of the church/relogion PLHA's are finding it more comfortable with and are working closely with the churches than government/NGO/CBOs support services.

The challenge for the world is that if such environment that the PLHAs are craving and seeking the churches to help can be also provided by the other service providers, the world can not win the battle of AIDS as earlier as expected.

Daniel
Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on February 4, 2010 at 7:41pm
Dear Abraham,

There is no compulsion for man in religion. There is no compulsion on anyone to accept The Truth. For, the Holy Qur'an says:

"Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trust worthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things." (Holy Qur'an 2:256)

Islam teaches that God has given man the faculty of reason and therefore expects man to reason things out objectively and systematically for himself. To reflect, to question and to ponder.

Therefore, nobody should press anyone to make a hasty decision to accept any of the teachings of Islam, for Islam teaches that man should be given the freedom to choose. Even when a man is faced with the Truth, there is no compulsion upon him to embrace it. But before one begins to form an opinion about religion, we must ask ourselves whether our existing knowledge of Islam or religion is thorough enough.

In making a decision, Islam continuously reassures you that your rights to freedom of choice, and freedom to use that God-given faculty of thought and reason will be respected. Every man has that individual will. No one else can take away that will and force you to surrender to the will of God. You have to find out and make that decision yourself.

The Bible also says in an almost similar vien:
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:" (Mathew 7.7)

I would be very interested to learn from Laurence, on seeking "The Way of the Buddha". For "Buddha" means awakened, or enlightened. Once we learn only then we can become enlightened. I am sure there would be common ground in Buddhism.

Let us look into the commonalities that all religions are overflowing with, follow them to our utmost competence so that we can understand the purpose of Life. This will make us Life Competent.

And finally, there is no compulsion for anyone to agree with what I have copied from the various scriptures! So, with freedom to all,

Rafique
Comment by wiwin winarni on February 4, 2010 at 2:38pm
Dear Abraham;

Your blog made me learn something that religion provide protection and caring to its followers. I do believe that. At my contect engagement to AIDS by means of SALT open opportunity to pluralism, to heterogenity. Mostly our community was always homogen, tend to black and white. SALT opens our mind to difference and provide more caring and protection to all our community member no matter what its sex, religion, sexual orientation etc.

Keep sharing Abraham.
Regards from Indonesia
Comment by Laurence Gilliot on February 4, 2010 at 1:55pm
Hi Abraham,

I really like your blog, it makes me reflect. I experienced a similar shift from one religion to another. I grew up Christian and now I practice Buddhism. I recognize what you say about the Christian groups because I find the same in the Buddhist Sangha I'm part of. So, I feel like there is something there that goes beyond religion...

Is it the sense of belonging to a community? Is it the immense care and compassion we human beings can have for each other when we let go of our ego and connect to a deeper and beautiful energy? Is it the hope that we CAN put an end to suffering, if we do it together? This and probably many other elements.
I think an important element of the response to HIV and other life issues is to reconnect as a community. Not always running around and 'doing' but also 'being' together, being happy.

Thanks a lot for sharing!

Laurence
Comment by Nema on February 4, 2010 at 12:53pm
My experience within East and Southern Africa has shown that when the Church community is welcoming, individuals and families are attracted to the christian community. Welcoming churches provide a source of hope and a sense of connectedness due to the care and support that individuals receive. The Pentecostal Assemblies of God in Kabale Uganda for example, is using a participatory evaluation process to identify the needs within the larger community and start providing support to OVC and PLWHA's without outside support. The church reaches out to widows, orphans, and other vulnerable people especially people living with and personally affected by HIV and AIDS.

When the church - "people who confess to love Christ and follow His teachings" - step out in faith and Embrace AIDS, there is hope and transformation in people's lives.

Nema

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