Harare Zimbabwe



Few years back I happened to work with “Dream Project” in Arusha Tanzania. It is a non-governmental organization funded by a group of Italians to take care of AIDS patients. It operates in collaboration with the Spiritan Missionaries in Tanzania. It is on this note that, for my pastoral experience program, I was appointed there.

Having been my first time to have such an experience, I was filled with enthusiasm, not because I had a great love for these people, but because I wanted to explore and to know how they manage to survive under this situation. So, I was more of an observer than a care taker. I, therefore, associated myself with doctors and nurses who were the ‘non-infected’, and actually who were not even my target. As a consequence, I realized that they (AIDS patients) had started distancing themselves from me. For, they felt no love and care from me.

It was from this context that I reflected on the parable of ‘The Good Samaritan’ in Lk 10:25-37 where a scholar of the law asked Jesus, “…who is my neighbour?” (Lk10:29), that I came to discover who my neighbour was in that time. Certainly my neighbours were not the doctors and nurses, but the patients. I therefore started moving closer to them, sharing conversations, feelings and meals with them. Gradually, I managed to enter into their lives, and this is how I discovered that the majority were tormented by the ‘fear of death’ and being isolated by family members and friends. Some had no courage of planning for the future.

Therefore, the challenge we have today is how to bring the gospel of hope to such hopeless and desperate people. We need to love them and associate ourselves with them, for they are our immediate neighbours of today. We need to know that AIDS is never to be equated to death as some think. People do not die because they are infected with AIDS. They die because it is time for them to die. Certainly every one will have to die some day. Therefore, we need to act a ‘Good Samaritan’ by providing spiritual, moral and material support to them.
Joseph Nkata CSSp