An extract of prayers from Uganda Namirembe Diocese Anglican Church Prayer Book, submitted by Canon Gideon Byamugisha at the AACC Heads of Churches Summit in June 2004, Nairobi, Kenya
Leader 1: 34 million people worldwide are infected with the virus that causes AIDS and 90% of these are in the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
In Uganda, nearly 1.5 million of our people are infected with the virus that causes AIDS. 50-60% of these infections are among children and young people. One cannot know who is carrying the virus by looking at someone’s face or by judging their physical build-up. There is no cure or vaccine yet in sight.
All: Oh god, hear our prayers and empower us to educate our people.
Leader 4: Five out of every six HIV transmissions happen through unprotected sexual contact with HIV infected partners in both acceptable and unacceptable sexual unions.
All: Oh God, hear our prayers and enable us to educate our people.
Leader 5:: One in every seven cases of HIV transmission happens through positive mothers infecting their babies. Every 25 to 40 children born to every 100 HIV positive mothers become infected with the virus that causes AIDS.
All: Oh God, hear all our prayers and enable mothers and fathers to protect their children from HIV infection.
Leader 1: In many urban and semi-urban areas 28 to 45 out of ever 100 women below 22 years are infected with the virus that causes AIDS. Yet this is the age group that is busy getting married, remarried and producing children with the blessings of parents, priests, and Imams.
All: Oh God, hear our prayers and enable us to educate our people.
Leader 4: There are widespread cultural values such as formal and informal polygamy, inheritance of widows, cultural preference for male children, and prohibitions against women inheriting property—all of which deprive women of independent decision making and increase their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and other Reproductive Health problems.
All: Oh God, hear our prayers and give us wisdom and understanding.
Leader 4: There are widespread separations and sometimes divorce due to economic, employment, educational and cultural pressure, increasing HIV/AIDS risk among children, youth, and adults who are deprived of the social, economic, psychological and emotional support from their families, parents, and partners.
All: Oh God, hear our prayers and help our children and our spouses to keep Holy and safe.
Leader 5:: Alcohol brewing and consumption are being actively promoted for social occasions and activities and as a source of income. Yet, the same alcohol leads to high-risk sexual behaviors for the brewers, the drinking partners and their community contacts.
All: Oh God, listen to your people and give us wisdom.
Leader 1: Our children and youth are culturally and circumstantially vulnerable to rape, defilement, and elopement which exposes them to greater transmission risks of HIV and of late, children are facing another threat to their health: Abductions and deaths from traditional healers and marketers
All: Oh God, hear our prayers and give us the courage to speak out.
Leader 4: Many of our children and youth are beginning sexual activity at the very early age of 10-12 years. Non-school attendees have reported having sex at an even younger age. They are doing this with very little knowledge of sexual health issues and with little appreciation of the social, physical, psychological and spiritual dangers of pre-marital and unsafe sex.
All: Oh God, hear our prayers and give us the courage to address this situation.
Leader 4: Of these girls and boys having sexual relations while in primary and secondary school between Primary six to senior six (against our wishes and advice), only 24 of every 100 girls and 19 of every 100 boys report ever using protectives. If one asks for correct and consistent use of these protectives, the percentage drops even more miserably to about 5 in every 100. The Results? Increased HIV/STD infections, teenage pregnancies and early deaths. 40% of the annual deaths recorded in Mulago Hospital among young women (10-24) are deaths related to post-abortion complications.
All: Oh God, we repent on behalf of the sugar mummies and sugar daddies. Give our girls and boys and our men and women spiritual power to resist sexual temptation.
Leader 5:: There are self-respecting children and youth who want to remain virgins by postponing sexual involvement, but their friends ridicule them, shun them and pressure them to have sex rather than support their choice. Even mass media messages on radio, TV, and newspapers are not helping their cause as most are encouraging “safe sex” only and not “No sex.” Some peers even threaten that their virgin friends will find it painful or impossible to enjoy sex at a later time or will be infertile—a very big threat in our societies where spouse satisfaction and child bearing are given great consideration.
All: Oh God, hear our prayers and give our children strength to remain pure and healthy.
Leader 1: In our society, marriage and having children are deeply valued. Unmarried girls and boys of marriageable age are often taunted and harassed by their friends, families and relatives. SO are the married couples delaying or postponing having children. Therefore, the AIDS messages of “No sex” and those of “Safer sex” are decampaigned and ridiculed openly by many men, women, and parents who are eager to have spouses, in-laws, children or grandchildren.
All: Oh God, hear our prayers ad give us wisdom to recognize dangers to our health.
Leader 4: Many parents, religious and community leaders know about AIDS ad HIV but many still do not yet understand the dynamics of infection. For example, many people still think one can escape HIV by just getting married or that a faithfully saved woman or husband cannot get HIV. Children and adolescents also associate HIV/AIDS risk with adults and not with themselves.
All: Oh God, hear our prayers and give us wisdom to recognize dangers to our health.
Leader 4: Sexuality and sexual health education by parents is almost non-existent. Many of us are shy. With the current social-economic and cultural dynamics even the traditional sexual educators like the ‘sengas’ are no longer doing their job. Thus our children are left to learn by “trial and error.” It is true that sometimes experience is the best teacher, but in the case of HIV/AIDS, STDS, and Teenage pregnancies, the consequences are deeply regrettable.
All: Oh God, hear our prayers, give us the time, the courage and the skills to train and protect our children.
Leader 4: Many schools do not teach adolescent sexuality, responsible parenthood and family life education and when they do, either the lessons are inadequate or they are done in a way that arouses curiosity and experimentation rather than quenching the thirst for true and accurate information.
All: Oh god, hear our prayers and give our teachers the knowledge, will, and wisdom to protect our children and young people.
Leader 5:: Because many people are not sure of their lives regarding HIV/AIDS infection, there is some sense of apathy, despondency, and desperation, which causes them not to care, mind, or insist on precautionary behaviors and practices. They think, “I am already finished” anyway. This causes more risk to themselves and to their sexual partners.
All: Oh God, hear our prayers; give us the courage to live and the wisdom to protect others.
Leader 1: With the AIDS scourge killing many parents, the number of unschooled, destitute, and emotionally unstable children will increase—thereby creating another spiral of infection among children through poverty, low self-esteem, unemployment, ignorance and through being taken advantage of by relatives, friends, and the community.
All: Oh God, hear our prayers and give us the means and true love to care for our orphaned children.
Leader 4: It is believed that as many as one million children may already be orphaned largely from AIDS. With few willing hearts to provide emotional, social, spiritual and economic support to the orphans and with very few resources available to enable them to do it; the fate of these children becomes predictably miserable.
All: Oh God, hear our prayers and give us means and the true love to care for our orphaned children.
Leader 4: Preventable diseases related to poor hygiene and sanitation (e.g. malaria and cholera) still claim the lives of millions of our children, youth, and adults and in some areas these diseases are actually increasing.
All: Oh God, save us, your children, from perishing and give us the heart to act.
Leader 4: Immunization is not yet accessible for all our children due to a variety of reasons. Hence, the six killer diseases still claim the lives of millions of our children.
All: Oh God, save us, your children, from perishing and give us the heart to act
Leader 5:: Health inequalities abound: The developing world (which includes Uganda) bears 90% of the disease burden but gets only 10% of the available health resources for disease prevention and care.
All: Oh God, build your world with cords of love that cannot be broken. Encourage those who have to give to those who do not have.
Roxi and David Owen
David and Roxi Owen are missionaries with the World Council of Churches located in Nairobi, Kenya. David serves as the Program Executive forEcumenical Focus on Africa. Roxi works with the Rosslyn Academy located in Nairobi, Kenya. She serves as a teacher.