Constance Mamba has been a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa-Eastern Diocese since 1994, serving rural communities in her home country of Swaziland.
As the HIV and AIDS crisis impacted her country, Constance discovered she was ill-equipped to offer the kind of pastoral care and counseling that was suddenly and most urgently needed.
Swaziland has the highest HIV infection rate in the world.
So Constance returned to school. Thanks to a scholarship from the ELCA International Leadership Development Program, she is earning a master’s degree in pastoral care and counseling at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.
Anticipating graduation in 2012, Constance hopes to become better equipped to address the needs of people affected by the HIV and AIDS crisis in her home country.
“Through the generous support of ELCA members, we are able to provide Constance access to the education and training opportunities to address the needs identified by our global companion, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa,” says Tammy Jackson, who implements the scholarship program for the ELCA. “Constance will return home to Swaziland better equipped to deal with the crisis, and to provide training to other pastors so that they will be more effective in their ministry and outreach with those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.”
“HIV and AIDS programs are essential, as well as home-base care for the sick, and (educational) programs about HIV,” says Constance.
On behalf of her church, Constance says she’ll work to organize and coordinate such programs, especially for care and support for children who have lost parents to the disease.
“The number of child-headed families in Swaziland increased at a very high speed,” says Constance.
Having grown up in a single-parent home, Constance says she understands some of the difficulties that these children are experiencing.
In her ministry, Constance also witnessed parishioners and members of the community become sick.
It’s these circumstances that had inspired Constance to return to school, deepening her commitment to provide hope and spiritual support for people affected by the HIV and AIDS crisis.
Worldwide the HIV and AIDS crisis has claimed more than 25 million lives. Members of the ELCA are working to respond faithfully and effectively to this pandemic through the “ELCA Strategy on HIV and AIDS.”
The goals of the strategy include efforts to assist in halting the spread of HIV, reduce the conditions of poverty that contribute to the spread and eliminate the stigma and discrimination experienced by those who are HIV-positive.