Your support could prevent a further spike in HIV/AIDS cases here.
AIDS is a problem Myanmar’s churches have been late to take up because of a “lack of information, high stigma and discrimination,” says Sister Mary Grenough. Myanmar is among the top five Asian countries with the most severe AIDs epidemics.
It’s not just her, though. In Catholic parishes throughout Myanmar, Sister Mary is giving her AIDS prevention workshops to anyone who will listen. In the past, people here have been quiet on the topic. Now, churches and other groups here are realizing that compassion is what’s needed when someone close is dying of AIDS.
“Would you believe that in some places here, people who die of AIDS are still denied burial in a Christian cemetery,” she said, “and some priests are afraid to visit them to offer spiritual assistance for fear of contracting the virus?”
AIDS patients also need wellness tools for self-healing, so Sister Mary also got together some AIDS caregivers in Myanmar for a workshop with Maryknoll Sister Eileen Brady. In East Timor, Sister Eileen teaches the Timorese how to heal from their own scars, endured during the country’s independence movement.
Being diagnosed with AIDS can be just as devastating. That’s why Sister Mary is heading the Myanmar Catholic HIV/AIDS Network, which helps separate AIDS fact from fiction. The group is preparing AIDS health care guidebooks that will help churches and other caregivers in Myanmar save lives.
After her AIDS pamphlets are translated into Burmese, Sister Mary hopes people here will finally be able to welcome those who are HIV-positive, not forsake them.