Working as an HIV/AIDS Field Officer with Bwafwano Care Providers over the past four months has been a journey filled with a lot of insightful experiences. One such insightful experience was on the occasion of a candlelight service held on the evening of the 31st of November. We were part of a co-organization by the Kitwe District AIDS Task Force (DATF). DATF is a unity of organizations that engage and lead in HIV/AIDS and related work in a district.
The candlelight service is a way for community groups to come together to reflect, pray together, or show support for each other. In relation to HIV/AIDS ,the District AIDS Task Force organized the candlelight service in order to:
– Help communities respectfully remember others who died as a result of HIV/AIDS and HIV-related illness.
– Help communities remember and pray for victims of Gender Based Violence as World Aids Day and 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence come around at the same time.
– Mark the significant progress our communities have made in HIV/AIDS prevention and elimination.
– To raise awareness for #HIVprevention and elimination
– To organize communities to pray for People Living with HIV/AIDS, people affected by HIV/AIDS, and encourage behavior change in communities against risky behaviors that drive the spread of HIV and Gender-based violence.
On this specific candle light service the atmosphere was that of hope and so was the message.
The singing echoed the determination that the Kitwe community and Zambia at-large has had and will continue to have in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The prayers showed the clarity of purpose with which various stakeholders came together to join hands and present their heart’s desire and petition before God.
And as we lit the candles first with the Mayor, District Commissioner, Clergy, and then the congregation, all of us sharing our candle light and lighting up our candles one for the other; it symbolized solidarity.
It symbolized that in this fight for HIV prevention and elimination of HIV/AIDS we will fight together regardless of age, gender, color, class, or creed – leaving no one behind.
As I participated in that candlelight service both as an HIV/AIDS Field Officer and a missionary, I understood that communities have the power to desire for and act for transformation. I understood that if communities put their hearts, minds, resources, and knowledge together, transformation is possible.
In this candle light service like on many other occasions, I have seen men and women, old and young, Christians and Muslims come together for a cause. I have come to realize that this is God’s desire for humanity and all creation to see itself as one. As proclaimed in Galatians 3 : 28 ESV that, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The challenges and weaknesses of society can be weathered if we understand that at the center and core of our being and creation is God’s love.When we love God and one another and all of creation, we look out for each other, we care for each other.
Communities can be proactive and not wait for solutions to the problems they face to come from other sources. To build community resilience and strength, we need to tap into what we can do for ourselves, for others, and for creation. We need to be able to answer this question – What are our good works?
These good works are when we extend grace to ourselves, others, and creation. These good works are social, economic, and environmental justice and advocacy. For those entrusted with positions of power and leadership over our communities, these good works are stewardship, accountability, good governance, etc.
Now I understand more the words attributed to John Wesley; “Do no harm, Do good and Attend to all the ordinances of God/Stay in love with God”
Peter Tatenda Muzarakuza
Bwafwano Care Providers
GMF International, Class of 2016-2018