John Eybel’s AIDS Ministry in Mwanza (Archives)

Training AIDS Care Givers

by John Eybel

In the Clinical Pastoral Education program at Bugando Medical Center people are trained to face detestable “shadow” behavior. For example, an HIV+ spouse refuses to tell a mate about the positive test result and proceeds to infect him/her with the virus; or a nurse or family member will not care for a dying member out of ignorance, disgust or contempt; or an angry HIV+ person is “impossible” to please and full of resentments; and the like.

“Shadow” behavior is the “speck” that shows up for us in the other’s eye. The object of the training for a pastor or counselor is to meet the “speck” with compassion and with an invitation to explore, rather than the usual judgment that is rendered.

On an April trip to the Serengeti our entire group of trainees enjoyed viewing the animals from Ndabaka Gate to Seronera where we stayed two nights in the student hostel courtesy of the Tanzania National Parks. In a subsequent exercise, the trainees were asked to name the “shadows” that showed up for them when viewing, not the animals, but their fellow group members while on safari. Some of the “specks” that showed up in “CPEr eyes” were those who:

  • made us late to leave on the trip by their last minute run to Mwanza town.

  • dictated in which of the two vehicles the participants were to tide.

  • threw an insult at the one who changed vehicles suddenly and without comment.

  • sped by and left the second vehicle behind on the road.

  • didn’t stop but went right by when the other vehicle pulled off the road.

  • ordered others on what work they should do at the hostel.

  • sat at a same sex table in the hostel.

  • delayed the animal viewing by insisting on having tea.

Today you never know what evil thought lurks in your shadow and prompts you to judge “someone with AIDS perhaps.”