Symbolic of the current times, this year’s ‘Month of Prayer’ will include prayers against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Held every September since 1996 and led by the Botswana Christian AIDS Intervention Programme (BOCAIP), traditionally the nationwide initiative has focused on HIV/AIDS.
However, with Coronavirus infecting almost 30 million people since the start of the year, claiming over 936, 000 lives worldwide, organisers saw fit to include Corona in this month’s prayers.
The campaign will be held under the theme ‘God cares and He calms all pestilences’ and was launched in Francistown at Donga Kgotla last week.
The event was graced by Francistown Mayor, Godisang Radisego, as well as pastors from various churches in and around the city.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared Covid-19 a pandemic in view of its devastating impact on human health, as well as its debilitating economic effect the world over. Thus it has been found befitting to have a theme that encompasses both HIV/AIDS and Covid-19,” explained Radisego.
The launch saw the lighting of a special candle, with the flame then shared with other candles to be distributed to churches and kgotlas around Ghetto.
“The significance of the candle lightning is to remember people who died of HIV/AIDS. The flames will open the door so God sees us through and can be with us through it all. There will be continuous praying throughout September as we seek God’s blessings and interventions in these difficult times we are facing,” highlighted the Mayor.
Radisego further noted that ‘Month of Prayer’ is a time of reflection for the Christian community, when they can evaluate their efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS situation in Botswana.
“BOCAIP as a faith-based organisation is one of the major contributors in HIV-testing and counselling services,” praised Radisego, adding that according to UNAIDS, annual estimations of HIV infections in the country have dropped from 13, 000 in 2010 to around 9, 500 in 2019.
However, he pointed out that adolescents and young people, particularly girls and young women, account for more than one-third of new infections.
Although current data shows Greater Francistown is one of the hardest hit with an HIV prevalence rate of 24.3 percent, the Mayor stressed great strides were being made in the second city.
“We have a program called 90-90-90 Fast Track Targets. By 2020, we want to have ensured that: diagnosis of 90 percent of people living with HIV, initiation of treatment by 90 percent of diagnosed people and viral suppression in 90 percent of people on treatment. We in Francistown have managed to beat the numbers by obtaining 91, 92 and 96 percents respectively,” revealed Radisego.