Who am I? Where do I belong? HIV/ AIDS orphans have to ask themselves all these questions only too often. When a family, due to the death of the parents breaks down, Memory Books can assist children to hold on to their identity. It restores some sort of ‚ideal world‘ of which they have been torn. It further gives them the confidence that they once had a family which loved and cared for them. It further gives them some form of home and may at times heal deep wounds. Very often, the Memory Book becomes the most precious item of the children which they protect like their own life.
A Memory Book can do many things. It can create hope by reporting on personal stories of the children, their parents, their families, their culture or even on the country in which they are living in. At times, it gives information on how to work the field, of how one takes care of oneself or even on how one can protect oneself from the virus which had taken away their parents.
Although the Memory Book is a rather simple concept, it responds to the special characteristics of developing countries. Memory Books are not only books in which parents lay down what they want their children to know. According to the preferences of parents, Memory Books can take on the form of tapes and CDs on which songs, stories or tips for life are recorded.
Implementation of the Memory Book
It might sound simple to implement the idea of a Memory Book. However, due to the lack of pen and paper, tape recorders and other materials in many African households, it is challenging to realize such ambitions. First of all, the supply of such materials would have to be provided. Secondly, since a substantial number of Africans are illiterate and/ or weakened of AIDS, the realization/ writing of many Memory Books would have to be assisted. Thus, personnel who distribute material and help in the implementation of the book would be required.
People responsible for the project should be trained in pastoral work. It should also be of advantage to attend knowledge and information of organizations which are familiar with the concept of Memory Books. To employ a person who has already been working with Memory Books appears to be another viable option, especially in the light of the many responsibilities most of the sisters are facing already.
Another advantage of the Memory Book is, that it directly supports the already existing aims of ‚Solidarity with Orphans‘. The person/ s in charge would have to travel a lot through the region of Bukoba. In doing so, they would be able to support and complement one of the objectives of the organization which is the ‘Integration or Reintegration of HIV/ AIDS orphans in their families and/ or villages. Moreover, the information flow between the sisters and the country side would improve and ensure quicker reaction with regards to emergency scenarios.
Currently, we are still working on the implementation of the Memory Book
Maximilian Musiol Volunteer Program, Computerlab, Memory Book
Location: Nyaigando region
Aim: Enhancing emotional stability through coping with trauma of loss
Future plans: Research on site how to implement it into local structures
Person in charge
The project is currently undergoing a feasibility study through St. Therese sisters