SFH Trustee, Tony Williamson, introduced speakers who reflected on the experience and value of STRATEGIES FOR HOPE. Daleep Mukarji , Director of Christian Aid, one of Strategies for Hope’s main partners, presented the Niwano Peace Prize medal to Canon Gideon Byamugisha who gave the keynote address.
Lord Mayor of Oxford, Mary Clarkson—“It’s great that you’re here at the Town Hall because Oxford has always been a place for pioneering humanitarian causes and for taking brave decisions. I am really impressed by the fantastic work across Africa”.
Messages of support—Two STRATEGIES FOR HOPE Trustees read out messages of support and thanks from organisations throughout the world who have been involved in STRATEGIES FOR HOPE in many different ways. Download messages.
Andrew Bunbury— Presented an insider’s view of how STRATEGIES FOR HOPE was born as an ActionAid-supported project in 1989.
“I am one of the very privileged people to have been associated with the project right from 1989. Download full text.
Dr Daleep Mukarji, Director of Christian Aid—Presented Canon Gideon Byamugisha with the Niwano Peace Prize medal, in recognition of his outstanding achievement in “turning personal suffering into a religious message of hope and courage. Download full text.
Glen Williams, co-founder and editor of STRATEGIES FOR HOPE —“Thanks to the many people and organisations who have supported, encouraged and promoted STRATEGIES FOR HOPE during the past 20 years. Over one milllion copies of STRATEGIES FOR HOPE books and films have been produced and distributed so far…” Download full text.
Alice Welbourn, introducing a minute’s silence in honour of people living with HIV - past and present - recalled the early days of an HIV support group in Oxford, and called for an end to stigma and discrimination. Download full text.
The meeting finished with the singing of the song Alone, composed by the Ugandan singer and song-writer, Philly Lutaaya, who died in 1989. Download lyrics.
Combatting AIDS: does religion help or hinder?
This was the topic for the evening’s main speaker Canon Gideon Byamugisha.
“When I saw this question I was tempted to say “Why did they give me 20 minutes?” The question is simple - the answer would have been “It depends!”. And then I finish my presentation and go home.
“Like that religious leader who was preaching, I am told, to his congregation, and he was going to make a sermon, and after he said “Let’s pray!” They closed their eyes, and when they closed their eyes he hid in the pulpit.
“You know how we have these big pulpits? So he hid there, and when they opened their eyes, the preacher was nowhere to be seen. So they were saying “Has he gone to heaven? What has happened?” And to stop them wondering for very long, he came up from the pulpit and said “You see? If you don’t come to God, he will hide from you like I have done!
“Those of you who have worked with faith communities know very well that religion is a double-edged sword. It can produce miracles and wonders. But also it is capable of producing the worst frustrations you can ever imagine…” Download full text.