On Valentine’s Day, Kenyan Pastors Reach Out to Youth Who Feel Rejected by the Church

Rev. Geoffrey Wanjala Munialo hands a rose and gift to Mary Mutua, a youth living with HIV, on Valentine’s Day in Nairobi, Kenya, on Feb. 14, 2017. (RNS photo by Fredrick Nzwili)

On Valentine’s Day, some Kenyan pastors handed out red roses as a sign of love to HIV-positive youth suffering stigma and discrimination.

The gesture was meant as a way to reach out to youth, many of whom feel rejected by the churches.

“We came to show the youth that we care and support them,” said the Rev. Geoffrey Wanjala Munialo, a pastor with Vineyard Church, a Pentecostal congregation in Nairobi.

“We’ve also been teaching them the right perspective of love,” he added. “The right perspective helps people care and eliminate stigma and discrimination in HIV.”

Widespread stigma prevents many youth living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, from coming forward and acknowledging their condition.

“Most parents prefer the status of their children remain unknown,” said Munialo. “They fear guilt by association.”

Mary Mutua, who is HIV-positive, said she blames the church for not giving greater priority to people like her.

“The church does not want to talk about it,” she said, because it means acknowledging that young people contract the virus through sexual intercourse.

“Many are comfortable supporting those who got it at birth because they feel it’s less sinful,” she added.

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SOURCE: Religion News Service
 

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