The Bible Society of Uganda (BSU) is a member of the worldwide fellowship of the United Bible Societies (UBS) that exists to serve all churches by providing Holy Scriptures in languages that people understand best and in the most appropriate formats, at affordable prices and helps people interact meaningfully with the Word of God. We work in cooperation and partnership with all churches, church related organisations and secular bodies. With HIV related work, the BSU works very closely with both internal and external partners.
In pursuance of our mission of helping people interact meaningfully with the Word of God, we have developed Bible-based application materials to encourage behaviour change in order to reduce the HIV/ AIDS infection rate.
With an annual budget of two billionUgandashillings funded through scripture sales, local fundraising and international support programme, the BSU is able to execute its key tasks. We have a total of 1,000 memberships; both young and old.
Current situation and causes
Ugandais at an important crossroad in the history of its AIDS epidemic. After a dramatic reduction in HIV prevalence following an early comprehensive HIV prevention campaign, there are signs that the number of people living with HIV in the country may be starting to rise again. The current HIV prevalence in Uganda is estimated at 6.5 percent among adults and 0.7 percent among children. HIV prevalence in some Northern regions at 9.2%, yet it stands as low as 2.5% in other Northern regions. The Northern discrepancy could be attributed t o the conflict in northernUganda, LRA rebels have abducted thousands of children – conservative estimates place the number of children abducted at a minimum of 20,000. About 20 percent of those abducted are girls most of whom will be forced into ‘marriages’ or given to senior commanders as rewards and incentives. Some children manage to escape, and among those who have done so, about half have some type of sexually transmitted disease. Among children who have been in captivity for longer, this rate rises to 85 percent.
In conclusion, basing on our experience and lessons learnt, we have also proved that the strength of our programme is based on strategy, methods and content, which is biblical. We shall continue to empower churches through our training, materials and ensure that youths, women and people living with HIV are part of our planning, implementation and evaluation.
As response to the analysis of current situation above, our intervention will focus on:
– Better knowledge and understanding of HIV –also in rural areas (GSP).We will pay attention to harmful beliefs and traditions that can lead to HIV infection.
– Faithfulness and better marriages. The new Love, sex and marriage module will be used as tools for couple seminars.
– Openness about sexual education and how to tackle violence. (GSP and Marriage module)
– Continue promoting good choices and responsible sexual behaviour (abstinence and use of condoms) among the youth (Take charge program and GSP).
– Encouraging people to test and access treatment since we have the services in the country. (Important part of the workshop where we link up with VCT facilities)
– We also see the need to strengthen youth and women involvement in the fight against HIV.
– PLHA will continue to be important actors in the program.
We believe that our programme is relevant in addressing some of the above gaps. Networking with other organisations (See 2) and medical institutions will be our main strategy in the third phase. We shall network with these organisations to fill the gaps of the services that we cannot provide, such as testing, treatment and other materials and financial support. The partnership programme has already started since the SMC recommendation during the Partner meeting inKampalain 2006, we hope to strengthen it and get more sister organisations in the intervention on board.
The BSU recognizes gender equality as a key concern in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Throughout our entire set of activities we try to ensure that both genders are well represented. Gender equality is also a key concern internally within BSU’s organisation: 1/3 of the BSU Board of Governors is made up of females; women are well represented within the staff and the different project team as well. In this particular intervention of HIV and AIDS, gender issue is one of the key topics in the resource materials and to promote gender equality is recognised as in important step in reducing the transmission of HIV. Gender issues such as roles, equality, respect and participation is an integrated part in our training programme. We will continue to address issue of gender inequality on all levels.
One of the main goals of The Good Samaritan is restoring human dignity for PLHA, and all people affected by HIV and Aids. As such human rights work is at the core of the GSP program. The GSP works to instill a conscience in all people that individuals, churches and the community at large is a moral duty bearer in respecting, protecting and fulfilling the right to human dignity of PLHA. The GSP has included a chapter in the booklet dealing particularly with Human Rights issues.
The work of the GSP falls primarily under the heading of fulfilling people’s right to health. The state is the judicial duty bearer of fulfilling the human right to medication and proper treatment. GSP work with local hospitals, so that the offer of VCT is included in the program. When this is not provided the role of the Bible Society is partly to advocate for the fulfillment of this right, and partly to empower people to seek the fulfillment of this right.
The bible society has also recognized the need of working particularly with women’s and children’s rights, as these are very vulnerable groups in the context of HIV and Aids, and experience consistent lack of respect for their human rights. Special programs are developed for those in particular need, such as women facing abuse, single mothers, prisoners, orphaned children and their caretakers. Topics of gender relations and other issues related to human rights, such as the right to inheritance are also discussed through the program.
The Bible Society of Uganda in a special way thanks the Swedish Bible Society for supporting this project here in the pearl of Africa. Many lives have been transformed including of the staff of the Bible Society of Uganda who are implementing this project.