The Christian Life Community (CLC) in Kigali is running a centre to welcome and help people living with HIV, building on years of spiritual and pastoral support that its members have been offering.
In 2005, the CLC adopted the spiritual care of people living with HIV as its common mission. About 30 members of CLC started with a simple brief: Go to people with HIV, visit them, offer them your friendship, and talk to them in such a way that preserves and renews their will to live.
Over the years, however, the CLC members found that the people they were accompanying had urgent material needs. They concluded that a spiritual approach should be linked to material aid, counselling and medical care and started to plan and raise funds to open a welcome centre.
March 2013 saw the fulfilment of their dream when the CLC-Ireme Centre opened its doors. The CLC offers counselling to people with HIV and supports the education of the children of the poorest families. IEC sessions (information, education and communications) equip people to face specific problems linked to their HIV-positive status and encourage mutual support through community networks.
The centre was officially inaugurated in October 2013 and, by March this year, had 107 beneficiaries. The team has decided not to take in any more, given its limited resources. All people with HIV who join the centre are assessed on intake so that they may receive in-depth psychological support if they need it. Otherwise they continue to meet with their spiritual guidefrom the CLC and only occasionally with a counsellor.
Since one of the major difficulties is the dire financial plight of most beneficiaries, the centre has decided to support some income-generating activities and has so far given start-up funds for two projects run by 27 people. However, it must be said that although the needs are great, limited funds restrict how much can be done.