ARUA CITY: “Right now I am hosting a young girl from Maracha archdeaconry who was nearly killed by the brother because she conceived at home, the lady came to me when she was seven months pregnant, I hosted her, took her for antenatal and after two weeks, she went into labor at Arua regional hospital and gave birth to triplets, I am now a happy grandmother of triplets”
“The triplets are with me and I am taking care of them because that’s what we are called to do but not only to talk with our mouths but to act” Rev Victoria Bayo, the family life coordinator at Madi and West Nile diocese narrated her ordeal.
Rev Bayo and indeed the Anglican Church in Madi and West Nile diocese is at the heart of a big fight against gender based violence (GBV) in the face of increasing cases in the West Nile region.
The church groups she leads including the Mothers Union, Fathers Union, and the Christian women fellowship are all charged with the responsibility of reaching out to their communities with such similar gestures such as provision of basic needs, guidance and counselling to the victims and their parents.
Rev Victoria says through their outreaches, many victims of GBV including men have openly come out to seek help, many broken families have been restored.
Bishop Charles Collins Andaku has run a relentless campaign against GBV calling on parents, and law enforcement authorities to step up efforts in reducing the cases. He has written pastoral letters to priests and lay leaders calling on them to use the pulpit for spreading messages against GBV.
In his 2021 pastoral letter, the prelate called on all religious leaders to rectify commonly held religious and cultural beliefs that may be used to justify or cover up GBV and accept the moral responsibility to be alert and responsive to abuse within families and declare abusive behavior as a violation of ‘our’ beliefs.
Bishop Collins in a renewed call in partnership with UNFPA and interreligious council of Uganda called upon churches to offer acceptance, understanding and comfort to every one especially those hurt or disadvantaged.
The partnership apart from ending GBV also emphasizes maternal child health, responsible procreation, HIV/AIDS all using church structures.
Diocesan secretary Mr Godfrey Nasser said three clergies have been trained at each of the twelve archdeaconries of the diocese as focal persons to offer support counselling and guidance to victims and families in conflict.
“We want to position ourselves as the front liners in the fight against the vice, we believe that a bleeding heart and a hurting society cannot faithfully worship God and we therefore pledge as the diocese to continue the fight against vices like the GBV that affect the normal life patterns of our people”, says Mr Nasser.
He has called on all the clergy in the diocese to use the pulpits to advocate for the rights and wellbeing of every Christian through preaching sermons on love, reconciliation, and peaceful living with one another.
Mr Stephen Angala, from the Church of Uganda provincial directorate of health said the Church’s ultimate aim is to educate the Christian families to have the number of children that they can educate, feed, clothe while remaining healthy as parents.
He said the number of GBV cases have been on the rise especially during the COVID-19 lockdown perpetuated by infidelity and hence the need for the church to step up its sensitization campaigns.