Cry in the ghetto: the narratives of children affected by HIV and AIDS

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IMMERSED IN THEOLOGICAL CONTEXT

All expressions and discussions of reality are inescapable ingredients of township theology3F 4. Socio-economic factors cannot be eliminated from such theology. Deep down in the cries of children affected by HIV and AIDS in a disadvantaged Mamelodi Township one sees Jesus’ face. One discovers the cry of God who feels the pains and sufferings of being left alone, of being stigmatised by local communities, school mates as well as some church members.
It is high time the church listened to the unheard voice of God as He speaks through the voices of those children. Jesus proclaimed a theology that is not theoretical but relevant and necessary for the practical life of common people, especially the marginalized. Jesus welcomed and embraced all. But he did not seek out those at the top of his day’s pyramid. He could be found out on the streets, seeking the outcast, finding lost sheep, healing lepers of all kinds.
“When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, and the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous,” Jesus said (Luke 14: 13-14).
Jesus proclaimed at Nazareth synagogue during his first public ministry: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor …” (Luke 4: 18).
Grenz and Franke (2000: 16-19) postulated a provocative proposal for constructing a theological method in the post-modern context. The impetus of the proposal by Müller et al., (2002) and Freedman and Combs (1996: 1-4) comes from the widely perceived collapse of the modernist worldview. They suggest that the traditional theological categories of “liberal and “conservative” no longer function. Thus, by shaping practical theology in a post-modern context the narrative researcher takes the “not-knowing position.”
That is to say, the researcher is not an expert, but co-researcher(s) are experts of their stories and experiences. A researcher links scripture, tradition and culture, which creates integrity in doing narrative research, leading to a postmodern paradigm that provides a useful framework for conducting research with integrity.

EXAMPLES OF ORPHANS IN THE BIBLE

There is an account of Terah (Genesis 11: 27 Holy Bible). Terah became the father of Abraham, Nahor and Haran. Haran became the father of Lot. While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans in the land of his birth. The Bible says that we should not take advantage of a widow or an orphan (Exodus 22: 22). In the New Testament, we read that some people brought children to Jesus for Him to place his hands on, but the disciples scolded the people. When Jesus noticed this, He was angry and He rebuked:
“Let the children come to me, and do not stop them …” (Mark 10: 33ff). The Biblical understanding of orphans gives a particular perspective of God, as one who observes the misery, one who hears the cry and who knows the suffering, and one who will bring justice to the oppressed widows and orphans.
In attempting to understand and analyze the life of children affected by HIV and AIDS, I do not want to teach them about their fate or God’s will or punishment for their lives. It is easy to lead them to an understanding that each of us is destined for these experiences and that God will reward us on the final day. Instead of this approach, I prefer to listen to their stories of being orphaned by AIDS and stigma that they experience as well as poverty, to make them aware of their own situation.

PRACTICAL THEOLOGICAL STUDY

This study and its paradigm fall under the vast umbrella of practical theology.
Practical theology as the “doing” of theology affects both situations of ordinary people, and the theologian’s theoretical framework.
Effective practical theology will result in a new understanding of social issues and support the emergence of new theoretical concepts. Practical theology is a transformational activity: it transforms not only the community and its life situation, but also the theoretical concepts used to understand the experiences of that community. Practical theology always urges positive change. Let me echo some of the essential characteristics of practical theology pointed out by Renjan (2007: 17-18):
Practical theology is unsystematic: systematic theology presents theology in a systematic framework. Practical theology in a way challenges this systematic method of presenting theological concepts, which limits the possibility of more practical meanings. Practical theology is unsystematic in the sense that it continuously re-arranges with the fragmented realities and changes of the contemporary world and the issues it presents.
Practical theology is contextual and situation-related: practical theology excludes generalization and emphasizes the particularity of a specific context. It gives priority to the contemporary context or situation in which it is involved rather than to other situations, times or places.
Practical theology is experiential: it gives more importance to experiences of people than to social theories. Of course, the theories might have been formulated from human experiences in the past, but contemporary situations are more relevant in practical theology, which takes people’ contemporary experiences seriously as data for theological reflection and analysis. Practical theology is interdisciplinary: as it deals with human experiences and contemporary life situations, practical theology cannot neglect or avoid the contributions and impact of other disciplines such as the social sciences. This means that it uses the methods and insights of academic and other disciplines that are not overtly theological as part of its theological method.
Thus practical theology, as used in this research study is praxis-orientated theology. Its approach is neither formal nor highly academic but spontaneous, informal and experiential. It is organized approach but has no preset interpretative style.
Müller (2005: 74) attests:
“It will be argued that practical theology, as enlightened by the post-foundationalist ideas of both Calvin Schrag and Wentzel van Huyssteen, should be developed out of a very specific and concrete moment of praxi”.

READ  WORKPLACE BULLYING: BEHAVIOURS, DYNAMICS AND RELATED ISSUES
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION, RESEARCH POSITIONING AND RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 CHALLENGE TO THE CHURCH
1.3 THE IMPACT OF BEREAVEMENT
1.4 THEME OF THE STUDY
1.5 RESEARCH GAP FOR THE PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.6 MOTIVATION FOR THIS STUDY
1.7 RESEARCH POSITIONING AND RESEACH METHODOLOGY
1.8 THE VALUE OF POSTFOUNDATIONAL RESEARCH
1.9 IMMERSED IN THE THEOLOGICAL CONTEXT
1.10 EXAMPLE OF ORPHANS IN THE BIBLE
1.11 PRACTICAL THEOLOGICAL STUDY
1.12 FOCUS OF THE STUDY
1.13 PACE FOR THE POST-MODERNISM PERSPECTIVE
1.14 USE OF NARRATIVE HERMENEUTICALMODEL
1.15 WHY THE USE OF THE NARRATIVR PARADIGM?
1.16 HISTORY OF THE NARRATIVE APPROACH
1.17 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
1.18 ADOPTING THE SEVEN MOVEMENTS
1.19 ETHICAL ISSUES
1.20 OUTLINE OF THE STUDY
CHAPTER TWO CHILDREN IN AN HIV POSITIVE COUNTRY
2.1 IINTRODUCTION
2.2 A COMMUNITY PROFILE OF MAMELODI
2.3 EXPERIANCES OF MAMELODI CHILDREN
2.4 DESCRIPTION OF CO-RESEARCHERS
2.5 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER THREE CRY IN THE GHETTO: THE NARRATIVES OF CHILDREN AFFECTED BY HIV AND AIDS
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 METHOD USED TO SELECT CO-RESEARCHERS
3.3 THE PROCESS OF INTERVIEWS
3.4 CO-RESEARCHERS’ DETAILED STORIES
3.5 REFLECTION ON THE HEARD STORIES
3.6 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER FOUR DESCRIBING AND UNPACKING STORIES OF THE PAST AND THE CLOUDED STORY OF HIV AND AIDS AND THE FUTURE
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 EMOTIONAL IMPACT
4.3 HOUSEHOLD IMPACT
4.4 LACK OF OPPORTUNITY TO GO TO SCHOOL
4.5 STIGMATISATION
4.6 FAMILY STRUCTURES
4.7 SUPPORT FOR CAREGIVERS
4.8 KEEPING CHILDREN IN SCHOOL
4.9 EMPOWERMENT FOR CHILDREN
4.10 PROTECTION OF CHILDREN’S HUMAN RIGHTS
4.11 MEETING AIDS ORPHANS’ EMOTIONAL NEEDS
4.12 AIDS ORPHANS AS PART OF THE GLOBAL PROBLEM
4.13 A FEW SUB SAHARAN COUNTRIES RESPONSE TO AIDS ORPHANS:
CHAPTER FIVE EXPLORING ILLNESS IN THE CONTEXT OF AFRICANS AND CULTURAL PERSPECTIVES
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 ILLNESS IN AFRICAN CULTURE
5.3 SYSTEMATIC UNDERSTANDING OF LIFE IN AFRICAN CULTURE
5.4 MYTHS ABOUT HIV/AIDS:
CHAPTER SIX RELIGIOSITY AND SPIRITUALITY IN AFRICAN CONTEXT
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 DEFINITION OF RELIGIOSITY AND SPIRITUALITY
6.3 RELIGIOSITY OF SPIRITUALITY IN AFRICAN CONTEXT
6.4 PLACE OF ANCESTORS IN AFRICAN CONTEXT
6.5 CHILDREN’S WITHQUESTIONS TO GOD
6.6 THE GROUP’S EXPERIENCE OF GOD
CHAPTER SEVEN THE CHILDREN’S WORLD: TOWARDS AN ALTERNATIVE UNDERSTANDING
7.1 ITRODUCTION
7.2 THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC FABRIC
7.3 THE IMPACT OF HIV/AIDS ON THE WORLD OF CHILDREN
7.4 THE PSYCH-SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT ON CHILDREN AFFECTED BY HIV/AIDS
7.5 RESEARCHING CHILDREN BEFORE THEIR PARENT DIE
7.6 ORPHANS AS A LAST RESORT
7.7 POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS AMONGST AIDS ORPHANS
CHAPTER EIGHT THE CHALLENGE OF HIV/AIDS TO THE CHURCH
8.1 INTODUCTION
8.2 THE CHURCH AS A HEALING COMMUNITY
8.3 THE CHURCH’S MISSION
8.4 SEIZING OPPORTUNITY TO SACRIFICE
8.5 THE CHALLENGETOTHE CHURCH
8.6 TOWARDS A THEOLOGY OF HIV/AIDS IN THE CONTEXT OF SOUTH AFRICA
8.7 THE CHURCH’S ROLE IN MODELLING CHRISTIAN MARRIAGES AND SEXUALITY
8.8 THEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS
8.9 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER NINE SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
9.1 INTRODUCTION
9.2 POSITIONING
9.3 THE MEANING OF POSTFOUNDATINAL PARADIGM
9.4 THE SEVEN MOVEMENTS METHODOLOGY
9.5 THE MEANING OF THE STORIES (NARRATIVE
RESEARCH)
9.6 WHAT NEW RESEARCH CAN BE DONE?
9.7 CONCLUSION
BIBLIOGRAPHY

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