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Helping people with AIDS in India: One response

To look at one response to AIDS in India.

by James Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 4/5

Aims

To look at one response to AIDS in India.

Preparation and materials

  • Images from the area can be downloaded from www.feedtheminds.org.
  • Music suggestion: ‘Another Day in Paradise’ by Phil Collins.

Assembly

  1. Since gaining independence from British rule over 60 years ago, India has emerged as a major regional power. With a population of over 1 billion, it is the world’s most populous democracy and the second most populous nation after China. Its parliamentary democracy and independent judiciary are models for other states in the developing world.

    Yet India also is racked with poverty, with one quarter of the population living below the poverty line. That is a huge number, given India’s enormous population. Poverty is mainly found in the rural regions, where illiteracy and the ancient Hindu caste system of social order remain. This leads to poverty, hopelessness and human rights abuses.
  2. Added to this, around two and a half million people in India are living with AIDS. Infection is particularly strong in the poor north-eastern region of Nagaland. Figures for the exact number of infected people are difficult to come by, but a recent sample returned an infection rate of 5 per cent. The virus was initially spread through needle-sharing, as Nagaland’s main industrial city, Dimapur, is a hub on a major drug-smuggling route. However, the virus has recently begun to spread among the non drug-using population, creating fears it will spread more quickly.
  3. India is primarily a Hindu nation, but Nagaland is unusual in that it is predominantly Christian. The Christian Church is strongly entrenched in the community and thus in a unique position to act to curb the spread of the virus. However, until recently, the conservative position of the dominant churches meant that AIDS was not discussed. As well as failing to stem the flow of the disease, this has led to the propagation of superstition regarding the disease and those who have it.
  4. Recently, the Impact Counselling Centre, a small charity, began to work on a new project: to prepare the churches of Nagaland for a new role as centres for the prevention of AIDS, and care for people with the disease. In addition, they aim to break down the false beliefs and superstitions that ostracize those with AIDS and contribute to the spread of the disease. Combined with strong leadership from the Nagaland government, who are focusing on prevention, the seemingly inevitable spread of AIDS through the population can be contained.

    Problems such as the AIDS epidemic are best dealt with through a combination of government power, local awareness, and scientific understanding, and the work of the Impact Counselling Centre in Nagaland is a good example of a productive opposition to AIDS.

Time for reflection

Play the music; project images from the website as you listen to the song (the lyrics are quite distinct).

Another day in paradise?

Another day for AIDS to march further across the planet?

Another day of misery for so many.

But there is hope:

Hope of counselling, of someone who cares.

Education for prevention,

support for the sick.

We give thanks for all those who work with people with HIV/AIDS.

Give them strength to do their work,

hope to see the situation change,

and love for all those to whom they minister.
Amen.

Hymn

‘When I needed a neighbour’ (Come and Praise, 65)

Publication date: July 2009   (Vol.11 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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