No. 7 in the CALLED TO CARE toolkit, this mini-manual was developed by four African Church leaders. It consists of 20 Bible studies on a wide range of topics related to the HIV epidemic, for example: sex and sexuality; hope; healing; stigma, discrimination and denial; death, grief and mourning; neighbourly love; and sexual harassment and gender violence.
The Burmese edition of Call to Me has just been published by the Myanmar Catholic HIV/AIDS Network (MCHAN), together with the HIV/AIDS Programme of National Karuna Myanmar Social Services, who are now distributing the book throughout the country. Financial support for the translation was provided by Catholic Relief Services, and a grant from CAFOD enabled MCHAN to print 1,000 copies of the manual.
When Sister Mary Grenough, MM, who served with the Maryknoll Sisters in the Philippines for 40 years, came to work in Myanmar in 2005, she realized that the Church needed to address itself more directly to the HIV epidemic, especially in the fields of HIV-related stigma and discrimination.
Sr Mary read about Call to Me on the STRATEGIES FOR HOPE website, and emailed the SFH Trust office in Oxford to request permission to have the manual translated into Burmese. She recalls: “I felt that we needed to educate our Church, not only about human sexuality and HIV/AIDS, but about the need for us, as Christians, to reach out and serve the most needy and rejected persons in society. Call to Me seemed to be exactly what we needed to do this.”
Sr. Mary helped to found the Myanmar Catholic HIV/AIDS Network (MCHAN), based in Yangon, which defines its mission as “to improve networking and develop programmes to reduce stigma and discrimination, and to increase capacities for HIV/AIDS treatment, care, support and prevention services.” The programmes serve people regardless of their religious beliefs or ethnic origins.
Most of the administrative work on the Call to Me translation has been done by Sr Mary. Her assistant, Juliana Aye Than Dar, has handled the design, proof-reading and page layout work. She says: “We hope this material will encourage parishes, dioceses and individuals to start peer support programmes, and also to generate a wider church response to individuals and families affected by HIV and AIDS.”
Call to Me is now being distributed through parishes, dioceses and religious congregations, and also through the Myanmar Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network (MINA). Sr Mary says: “We hope it will reach not only people living with HIV and their families, but also a much wider public, to give people examples of how we should be living and growing in our faith. I think Pope Francis would love it!”
Note: To order copies of the Burmese edition of Call to Me, please contact the MCHAN office in Yangon:
c/o Catholic Bishops Conference of Myanmar
292/A Pyay Road, Sanchaung P.O. 1111.
Telephone: landline: (095) 1 501 377 or handphone: 095 09 4402 27579.