KELC Parishes Celebrate World AIDS Day
By Candise Heinlein
Global celebrations of World AIDS Day were held on 1 December 2010; however, KELC parish celebrations began the last week of November. On 26 November, Mombasa Parish in conjunction with the KELC Youth Department and the KELC Malaria and HIV/AID Department hosted an all-night Dance for Christ ecumenical event in celebration of World AIDS Day. Dancers from congregations of the Mombasa Parish, congregation youth choirs, and the praise and worship team from the Redeemed Church shared their talent along with the talents of the following performing artists: Asaph Band, Ebenezer Group, and Salome Mwabindo.
Preachers and lay leaders from various denominations joined in the Dance for Christ celebration: Pastor Sean Mercentite (Pentecostal Church), Pastor Christopher Nawate (Redeemed Church), Rev. Shikuku (former KELC pastor), and Bakari (former Muslim now a lay leader in the Mombasa Parish). Asiya Nabongo gave a presentation on HIV/AIDS. The event was very successful and drew a large crowd of youth.
In Nairobi, celebrations took on smaller proportions, but were just as effective. The Nairobi International Lutheran Congregation celebrated on 28 November with a drama, words from health clinic staff, and a Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) clinic. The drama was written by Richard Odhiambo and was based on his true-life story of living as a person infected by HIV. Mr. Odhiambo has a daughter who is HIV positive and lost his wife to AIDS-related illness. In introducing his play, he advised, “Parents should ask their children where they got money to buy things for them.” The play depicts a girl who is led into unprotected sex by the promise of money and uses the money to buy presents for her parents to keep them from asking questions. Odhiambo’s additional advice was for newlyweds to respect each other with faithfulness, spouses to practice abstinence when they have to leave their families for a job, youth to abstain, and parents to talk with their children. Finally, he said, “Those getting married—get VCT. Don’t wait.” Mary Kimatu of Kenyatta National Hospital VCT clinic addressed the congregation. Following the service, Ms. Kimatu, Patricia Chepkemoi, and Veronica Thvo offered VCT to all willing congregants.
On World AIDS Day, the Jerusalem Congregation of the Nairobi Parish held one large service with a guest speaker from the Teacher’s Service Commission (TSC), Mrs. Sitawa, who also teaches at a school in Muthaiga. Following the service, TSC sponsored VCT for all willing congregants. Twenty-eight congregants were tested.