Thursday, December 25, 2008


Dear friends,

Christmas greetings are a wonderful means to renew old acquaintances and to make new ones...
I have been pleasantly surprised by the wonderful people who still think of me though I have been remiss in keeping in touch...The phone calls that came through and those that called because they missed me calling them...Thank God for all these people...
So here comes a wish for a season of peace, good cheer, family togetherness and love...May the babe of Bethlehem bless you and your near and dear ones...
We had a great Christmas in the community. I am posting pictures of our crib and Christmas tree prepared by Bros. Johnson and Neville...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Well dear friends, if you are wondering why this blog is being updated so sporadically here are two good reasons:

1. In the last week 5 days have been spent carol singing - bringing Christmas joy to the families in our parish...with a group of about 18 young people ranging in ages from 12 to 25....all enthusiastic, most good singers and definitely all filled with good will to spread the Christmas message...

2. There are also many other preparations going on and you can sample the menu by looking at our Christmas programs...

But hopefully this phase will pass and the updates will be more regular....until then all of you have a great Christmas season with much joy, peace and love...

Saturday, December 20, 2008


This picture was taken during the recent jubilee celebration of Fr. Diego. I thought it was symbolic of the attempt that all SDBs are making to 'return to' Don Bosco as we live his spirit in our world.

May each of us be enabled in this pursuit!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008



Here are some of the high points of the jubilee of Fr. Diego Nunes - Principal of Don Bosco School Nashik in pictures.

Representatives from each section of the school present a floral bouquet.

Here the jubilarian cuts the cake at the festive lunch organized for relatives, friends, religious and well-wishers.
A section of the crowd enjoying the tasty lunch in the Don Bosco School quadrangle.


In our fast evolving world anything that lasts for 25 years is ordinarily considered prehistoric, ancient and very often also redundant. But there are some things that stand the test of time and attain meaning precisely because of that.

December 17 2008 was one such significant day as Nashik celebrated 25 years to the day when Fr. Diego Nunes - Principal of Don Bosco School, Nashik, was ordained a priest at Uttan.

The day began with the community gathering round Fr. Diego to pray for him and to thank God with him. At 11 am the jubilarian was welcomed with showers of rose petals along with his family members for a felicitation program organized by the staff and students of Don Bosco School, Nashik.

The students vied with each other to express their joy at the accomplishment of this milestone. A powerpoint presentation summarised the journey that Fr. Diego has taken in the last 25 years and the songs and dances all focussed on fidelity and gratitude. Special mention must be made of a skit highlighting the key elements of the Salesian system of education. The festive lunch for invitees followed in the school quadrangle which had been beautifully decorated for the occassion. The teachers of the school, some parents and religious from the city had been invited to felcitate Fr. Diego.

All this, however, was merely a prelude to the central moment of the celebration - the Thanksgiving Eucharist - presided over by Fr. Diego - which began at 6:30 pm. A prayer dance by the children of Satpur; some very beautiful and harmonious singing by the brothers of Divyadaan; an inspiring homily by Fr. Robert Pen; and a symbolic procession with 25 lamps carried by religious, lay people and children; all made for a prayerful and truly worship-ful moment. After the Eucharist it was the turn of the Don Bosco parishioners to wish and congratulate Fr. Diego. The novices of STI used the medium of music to describe the call of Fr. Diego, and they were followed by dances and songs, both classical and modern. Finally, it was the turn of the jubilarian to express his thanks for a day celebrating his fidelity and dedication. He left to all a message on the need to share our gifts even while he thanked the Lord and others who had helped him weather the storms of the years. In the hearts of all those who had spent the day celebrating fidelity rang the words of the beautiful hymn rendered in 3 voices by the Divyadaan community -

All thru the years, you have been at my side, O Lord
All thru the years, you have been my guide, O Lord
All thru the years, you have taken my hand in yours,
Kept me in your love.

And in my nothingness and in my lowliness
I sing your praises, Lord, I sing your faithfulness
And then my heart o'erflows in joy and gratitude
And I adore you, Lord!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


  • A long time has passed since this blog was updated...and since we are in the Advent season - here are a few resources that I have found inspirational...
  • The website of the Australian SDBs has a series of pamphlets that can be downloaded and printed to enable Advent reflection in parishes, families and religious communities...The first has instructions on how to use the pamphlets and the rest take us through the four weeks prayerfully and reflectively....
  • Happy Advent...May each of us enjoy the waiting and longing as a preparation for His Coming....He Comes, He Comes, He Ever Comes....

Monday, November 10, 2008


Here are some more pictures of the inside of the basilica...

Saturday, November 8, 2008


As I read about this feast I was reminded by a good friend of our visit to the beautiful basilica...I remember getting on Tram 3 as it made its way past the Colosseum cutting across via Merulana until one suddenly comes upon the majestic basilica even as the tram turns towards Santa Croce in Gerusaleme...Here are some pictures to be savoured of the oldest of the 4 major basilicas of Rome.

Saturday, October 11, 2008






Wednesday, October 8, 2008


The parishioners of Don Bosco Nashik decided to celebrate Gandhi Jayanti in a unique way. In paying tribute to the Father of the Nation, one often forgets the living grandfathers and grandmothers and so a trip to the Nirmala Home for the Aged (which is home to many of the seniormost members of our parish) seemed in order. At 4:30 pm about 60 parishioners – young and not so young gathered at the portals of Nirmala Home and were warmly welcomed by the inmates who were all spruced and ready. The program began with a prayer and then followed an evening of fun and games.

To set the ball rolling the boarders of Maria Vihar presented a Kohli dance. They had the audience clapping and swaying to the music as they gracefully presented a part of the folklore of the Mumbai coast.

Then followed some enthusiastic singing of old time favorites, a dance by Irwin to the tune of a Hindi hit song, some exquisite trumpeting from Bosco Monsoratte and a game of housie. There were also songs from Jim Reeves, Mohd. Rafi, others in Konkani and Marathi, a game of housie and some delicious snacks. It was hard to tell how quickly the time passed and it was soon the moment to bid one another goodbye.

Myrtle Paul, one of the inmates, noted that it had been an uplifting experience for all present – the seniors, the children, the youth and the grown-ups. An evening spent bringing back old memories and enjoying fellowship seemed a fitting way to pay tribute to Bapu.


This is a picture of a painting done by my niece Kruti Ann Buch on 3rd September 2008.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


A picture is worth a thousand here are some recent ones to make up for the lack of words in the blog...

My mum and dad at the mass on 21 September 2008...

We had a nice dinner and some good singing - mandoline, guitar and Italian songs from yesteryears...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


(Homily for 23rd Sunday of the Year A)

Ezekiel 33:7-9; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20

(These thoughts were proposed and found useful by some who listened on 7th September 2008)

Today we have a Eucharistic celebration that is not going to allow us to return home untouched. The gospel has an important message for all of us on reconciliation. And this reconciliation will be made possible by CARE-FRONTATION = a word coined to describe an interaction in which there is a confrontation that arises from care. Let us spend some time unpacking this idea.

We live in a world which prides itself on individualism. You do your thing and I'll do mine....and you bloody well better not interfere with my thing. So we tolerate and leave things unsaid often leaving situations to get worse.

But Jesus is challenging us to take responsibility not only for our own lives but also for the lives of others. As Ezekiel reminds the people in the first reading - we are called to be sentries and watchmen. We cannot afford to sleep on our watch since we can place the entire community in danger.

A story is told of a young girl with polio who had to undergo extensive physiotherapy that often left her in excruciating pain. So she protests one day to her dad. "Dad don't you love me just the way I am - unconditionally?" And her dad replies: "Darling I love you - I love you too much to allow you to remain the way you are!" Now that is true unconditional love. To love the other into being a better person. At the root of our challenging others who err is LOVE. We do not correct to prove a point or to gloat over a person who is inferior to us. We reach out in love to someone we care about. St. Paul reiterates this in the second reading when he tells us that the summary of the law is love. When we truly love then our care-frontation becomes possible.

The gospel of today helps define this process of Care-frontation. It lays down steps for the journey and we will just highlight three of them.
1. True care-frontation begins as an encounter in love between two persons. When I see my brother or sister stray I am not called to publicise their failing or mistake. I need to go to them in a loving encounter - in private and bring to their attention the change that may be necessary for them to become better and more loving persons. The goal is to make them better - the motivation is love. So there is no room for blame and accusation. How often we lower the dignity of the other person by bringing their faults to light in public before people who respect them and thus belittling them. Needless to say this has the opposite effect of hardening positions and closing people from change and adaptability to rigidness and stubborness.
2. This care-frontation precludes gossip, rumour mongering and back biting. I have no right to tell others and to spread tales that I have not had the courage in the first place to share with the person concerned. How much harm we do when we do spread this evil spirit born often from half-truths that are presented as absolutely incontrovertible proof. We would do well to recall an incident from the life of Philip Neri. A woman once went to him for confession, accusing herself of badmouthing people. The saint absolved her but gave her a strange penance. He told her to go home, get a hen and come back, plucking the bird’s feathers as she walked along the street. When she had returned to him he said: “Now go back home and, as you go, pick up each feather that you plucked on the way.” The woman told him that it would be impossible since the wind had almost certainly blown them away in the meantime. But St. Philip was prepared: “You see,” he said, “just as it is impossible to pick up the feathers once the wind has scattered them, it is likewise impossible to gather gossip and calumnies back up once they have come out of our mouth.”
3. If a simple dialogue in private has not yielded fruit or brought about the desired change then we need to get the help of others to solve the problem. We need to get those who have some abililty to help and mediate and bring about reconciliation. But our brother or sister is always due respect and the intervention is once again always to be moved by LOVE. This makes the third key issue in Care-frontation.

So as we go into a new week let us ask the Lord for this ability to CARE-FRONT others. Care-frontation is moved by love and seeks the good of the other. It moves from personal private dialogue in which we point out to the other the error of his or her ways. It avoids all gossip and slander. When dialogue fails it seeks to bring about change and reconciliation by recourse to significant people who can help make things better. Let us go out to enjoy a week of CARE-FRONTING others.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


(I have found this little poem so true and have cited it many times...if it brings a chuckle to your lips enjoy it...and spare a thought the next time you want to 'bad mouth' your priests...Happy Vianney Sunday to all - priests and flock!!!)


If he begins his mass on time, his watch is advanced;
If he begins a minute later, he keeps people waiting
If he preaches too long, he makes people get bored;
If his homily is too short, he is unprepared.
If he owns a car, he is luxurious;
If he does not own one, he does not go with the times.
If he goes out to visit families, he is always out:
If he does not, he has no time for them.
If he asks for donations, he is a moneymaker;
If he does not do it, he is too proud and lazy.
If he takes time in the confessional, he is too slow;
If he makes it too fast, he has no time for his penitents.
If he renovates the church, he throws away money;
If he does not do it, he allows everything to rot away.
If he is with the youth, he forgets the old.
If he is seen with women, he is a playboy;
If he goes with men, he is not normal;
If he is young, he has no experience;
If he is old, he should retire.
As long as he lives, there are always people who are better than him;


Saturday, August 9, 2008



(Condensed from the official press release of AIDS 2008)
9 August 2008 - As the XVII International AIDS Conference drew to a close yesterday, HIV experts from around the globe highlighted the dramatic negative impact that stigma and the denial of human rights, including gender inequality, continue to have on the effectiveness of HIV treatment and prevention scale up. Fear of violence and discrimination prevent many people living with or at risk for HIV from seeking testing and treatment.

“The voices of those who bear the brunt of this pandemic have been loud and clear in Mexico City this week,” said Pedro Cahn, International Co-Chair of AIDS 2008. “If the world does not heed the call to ensure the human rights and dignity of every person affected by HIV, we will not achieve our goal of universal access.” “Those most at risk, including injection drug users, men who have sex with men and sex workers, as well as women and youth, must never be seen simply as patients or prevention targets,” said Dr. Luís Soto Ramírez, Local Co-Chair of AIDS 2008. “Their experiences and contributions are central to the development and implementation of effective programmes.”

Tuberculosis is closely linked with the death of people living with HIV. At least one-third of the 33 million people living with HIV worldwide are co-infected with TB, and these individuals have up to a 15% risk of developing active TB every year. Dr. Chakaya Jeremiah (Kenya) gave an overview of the challenges presented by the dual epidemics of HIV and TB. He noted good progress being made to decrease the burden of HIV in TB patients through HIV testing of TB patients and the initiation of preventive therapy for HIV-positive TB patients. Jeremiah also profiled the emerging threats of multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant TB, both a consequence of sub-optimal TB control and inadequate infection control practices in health care settings.

In his plenary remarks, Bruno Spire (France) identified reducing stigma, combating prevention fatigue, and diversifying HIV testing as key steps to prevent sexual transmission of HIV in concentrated epidemics. Spire proposed a “triple therapy” strategy to combat stigma and discrimination rooted in evidence of stigma’s negative impact on HIV risk reduction. The strategy includes fighting for better acceptance of PLHIV, improving laws and policies to protect those most vulnerable to infection, and implementing prevention programs that incorporate community mobilization and peer support. He cited examples of efforts in India, Chile and France as important examples of this successful strategy. He pointed to data showing that access to antiretroviral therapy and perceived good health have a positive impact on consistent risk reduction among PLHIV. Spire also emphasized the importance of a variety of HIV testing approaches as well as increased access to voluntary counseling and testing, particularly in community settings. In addition to facilitating earlier access to care, learning one’s HIV status enables earlier adoption of safer behaviors.

According to Edwin Cameron (South Africa) the enactment of laws that criminalize transmission of or exposure to HIV has become so widespread that they have become a crisis in efforts to deal rationally and effectively with HIV. Citing examples from locations as diverse as the US, Sierra Leone and Singapore, Cameron highlighted the irrational nature of these laws and their ineffectiveness in achieving their purported goal. They radically increase HIV stigma and become barriers to testing and treatment. Prosecutions often single out already vulnerable groups such as sex workers, MSM and others exposing them to ostracism and further stigma. Cameron stated that one of the outcomes of AIDS 2008 should be a major international pushback against such misguided criminal laws and prosecutions.

Citing violence against women as both a cause and consequence of HIV infection, Zonibel Woods (Canada) highlighted the fear of violence from partners as a reason that some women do not seek treatment for HIV. Woods declared that providing access to treatment must be linked with ensuring a woman’s right to live free from violence. Scaling up HIV treatment and working against stigma and discrimination must go hand in hand. The legal and policy environment to address violence against women must be strengthened along with the commitments to enforce, monitor and evaluate such policies. The three priorities Woods outlined were confronting gender-based violence, ensuring women’s right to sexual and reproductive health, and investing in women’s organizations so that women can participate effectively in decisions that affect their lives. She emphasized that success in gender transformative programs depends on the engagement of women’s organizations in setting in-country priorities, and the inclusion of experts in gender equality and women’s empowerment on review panels.

Conference Closes With Calls to Action
At the Closing Session, delegates heard summary remarks from AIDS 2008 Co-Chairs, Dr. Pedro Cahn and Dr. Luis Soto Ramirez, as well as from community representatives. Incoming IAS President, Dr. Julio Montaner, gave an inaugural address. At the end, Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard and Co-Chair Luis Soto Ramírez officially transferred the International AIDS Conference glass globe from Mexico City to Vienna, Austria, the host of AIDS 2010. Representatives from Vienna were happy to accept the challenge of hosting the next major gathering two years hence.

With more than 24,000 participants from over 190 countries, AIDS 2008 was the second largest in the history of the International AIDS Conference, and the first to be held in Latin America. The conference theme, Universal Action Now, emphasized the need for continued urgency in the worldwide response to HIV/AIDS, and for action on the part of all stakeholders.

Friday, August 8, 2008



(Condensed from the official press release of AIDS 2008)

8 August 2008 - Speakers at AIDS 2008 underscored the importance of simultaneously scaling up AIDS programs and strengthening health systems in poor countries, emphasizing that the two goals should be viewed as allies, not adversaries. They also stressed the importance of expanding the role of people living with HIV in the planning and provision of health care as a part of the solution.

“HIV and global health advocates have enough common enemies, chief among them political complacency and inadequate human and financial resources,” said Dr. Luís Soto Ramírez, Local Co-Chair of AIDS 2008. “In the struggle to recognize health care as a human right, we are natural partners.”

“If the urgency of AIDS and the sheer magnitude of human loss we are now experiencing is not enough to compel us to provide even the most basic level of health care to those living in low-income countries, then we, as a global community, are morally bankrupt,” said Dr. Pedro Cahn, International Co-Chair of AIDS 2008. “If, in the context of AIDS, we walk away from this challenge, we may never get another chance.”

According to Anton Pozniak (United Kingdom), when it comes to antiretroviral therapy (ART) the questions of “when to start?” and “what to start with?" remain central to people living with HIV and their clinicians. The move to start treatment earlier is gaining momentum in light of evidence that those untreated patients with high CD4 counts fall prey to many other non-AIDS related illnesses such as cardiovascular disease. He stated that clinical trials are needed to weigh the costs and benefits of starting ART earlier. Debates regarding which therapies to use in initiating treatment also continue in those countries where there is an abundance of choice. Cost considerations and toxicity of antiretrovirals need to be carefully concerned especially in resource-poor countries. Pozniak concluded that in situations where there is a choice of therapies, treatment of HIV has become focused on minimizing toxicities and maximizing convenience, and that this choice should be offered to all people living with HIV.

Morolake Odetoyinbo (Nigeria) opined that the greater involvement of people living with HIV (PLHIV) can be a key component of efforts to strengthen fragile health systems in low- and middle-income countries. Many of these weak health care systems have been further taxed by the HIV epidemic, with a depleted health workforce due to illness and death, thus magnifying the impact of existing malnutrition. Highlighting the existing involvement of PLHIV as counselors, peer educators, and spokespersons, Odetoyinbo explained how PLHIV can do even more to help strengthen health systems if their involvement is rooted in their existing capacities and skills, and not used to simply fill quotas. They should have multi-dimensional roles as advocates, watchdogs and managers, and should also be active participants in decision-making bodies responsible for the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programs.
With 3 million people in low- and middle-income countries now receiving antiretroviral therapy, Gregg Gonsalves (United States) called this feat one of, the most ambitious public health undertakings of our lifetimes. This milestone was reached despite powerful critics, and in the face of many operational and political barriers to sustained and expanded access to AIDS treatment. He called on those who have attacked AIDS funding and programming to recognize the innovations and momentum the AIDS response has brought to the entire field of global health. In fact, thanks to this enterprise "health for all" — the provision of comprehensive primary care to all who need it — which was central to the Declaration issued by WHO member states 30 years ago, is being gradually realized. Gonsalves urged a new covenant between communities, governments, United Nations agencies, academics, health care workers and scientists to build on what has been achieved in AIDS to make health, not a privilege for a few, but a fundamental human right for all.

Thursday, August 7, 2008



(Condensed from the official press release of AIDS 2008)

7 August 2008 - Researchers, community and political leaders gathered in Mexico City for the XVII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2008) today received an update on the future prospects of eradicating HIV, and were urged to give greater attention and resources to the needs of affected children, and to reject unproven strategies that ignore the realities of sex workers’ lives.

“The persistence of HIV in latent reservoirs presents a major challenge to the ultimate goal of eradicating HIV from the human body,” said Dr. Pedro Cahn, International Co-Chair of AIDS 2008. Thus, while researchers seek answers to this and other key scientific questions, it is important that the prevention and treatment knowledge that already exists today not be squandered. Dr. Luís Soto Ramírez, Local Co-Chair of AIDS 2008 warned against ignoring the needs of children affected by HIV, and continuing to marginalize groups at greatest risk for infection, which will only lead to more new infections and fewer people on treatment. “We will pay for such foolishness in the future,” he said.

Dr. Robert Siliciano (United States) presented data on HIV persistence in people on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and the prospects for eradication of HIV. Siliciano demonstrated that HAART can stop viral replication of HIV but cannot eradicate it from the body because of the persistence of HIV in a reservoir of CD4 cells even during HAART. According to Siliciano, HAART’s demonstrated ability to stop replication is one of the three steps needed to cure HIV. The other two are identifying all the stable reservoirs for the virus, and finding ways to subsequently eliminate them.

An estimated 2.1 million children younger than 15 years were living with HIV in 2007, 90% of whom are in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 90% were infected through mother-to-child transmission. While access to treatment has increased substantially, it has been substantially lower for children than for adults. In her plenary address, Linda Richter argued that, while affected children have been highly visible in photo opportunities and headlines about AIDS, their real needs have been consistently overlooked. An estimated two million children are living with HIV today, and many millions more are directly affected by the epidemic through the illness and death of their parents or caregivers, emotional distress, material deprivation, and lack of access to treatment, support, basic health services and education. Richter called for the development of family-centered approaches to address the needs of all children affected by HIV/AIDS. She advocated that social protection services that support families and communities; economic assistance for poor families, particularly through income transfers; and, other steps be taken to alleviate the lot of children affected by HIV in both low- and high-prevalence settings.

Elena Reynaga (Argentina) issued a stirring call for the full recognition of sex workers’ (SWs) rights and for the ability of sex worker organizations to develop and implement effective HIV/AIDS programs rooted in the realities of their lives. According to Reynaga, current efforts to reduce HIV prevalence among SWs are hampered by inadequate funding and the misdirected investment of limited funds into programs that do not meet SW’s actual needs. Reynaga cited evidence that HIV prevalence has been lowered in regions such as South America, where sex work is actually recognized as “work” and SW organizations receive direct support. In Brazil, strategies that incorporate peer outreach, promotion of SW rights and the abolition of laws that repress sex work, have helped to control epidemics. Reynaga said that SWs are dying because of a lack of health services and HIV treatment. Fighting stigma and discrimination, and freedom from repression build an effective response to HIV among SWs.

Coming up tomorrow are sessions on the future of the epidemic and new directions in HIV research; building global and national commitments for evidence-based approaches; financing sustainable national health care; and, a family and community approach to prevention and care for sexual minorities.

A full list of all sessions and activities is available through the online Programme-at-a-Glance at

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


(condensed from the official press release of AIDS 2008)

6 August 2008 - In light of promising evidence of the potential impact of antiretrovirals on HIV prevention, and recent setbacks in other biological interventions, HIV experts at the XVII International AIDS Conference today called for a reinvigorated commitment to prevention research and accelerated implementation of proven prevention strategies. In 2007, 2.7 million people were newly infected with HIV worldwide, nearly 7,400 each day.

“Today, there are many effective strategies to prevent HIV, and all nations of the world must commit fully to their implementation,” said Dr. Luís Soto Ramírez, Local Co-Chair of AIDS 2008. He pointed out that too often stigma and discrimination continue to fuel counterproductive laws and policies that undermine prevention and treatment. Changing these attitudes needs to be a central component of any HIV prevention strategy.

Pointing out that in the recent past there have been some setbacks in the areas of vaccine and microbicides research, Dr. Pedro Cahn, International Co-Chair of AIDS 2008, decried the tendency to abandon all efforts to find other means to prevent new infections. Other speakers provided insights into current prevention research and programming, while highlighting the harmful effects of oppressive attitudes and policies, which inhibit the implementation of effective prevention programs. We need to increase basic science and vaccine research so as to reverse the course of the epidemic.

Despite important increases in HIV treatment access worldwide, it will be impossible to “treat our way out of the epidemic,” according to Dr. Myron Cohen (United States). Citing the central role that clinical and other HIV treatment providers have played in averting mother-to-child transmission with antiretroviral drugs, he mooted a greater partnership between treatment providers and those working in public health campaigns to prevent HIV. Reflecting on the need for a multi-pronged approach to prevention, Cohen iterated the urgent need to develop combination primary prevention strategies; reinvigorate research on HIV vaccines, other immune-based strategies, and antiretroviral prevention; and encourage people to learn their HIV status for the own health and the benefit of their sexual partners and communities. Cohen urged that once and for all, the HIV community marry HIV treatment and prevention.

Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman (Malaysia) highlighted the sorry plight of injecting drug users (IDUs) who are disproportionately less likely to have access to antiretrovirals. They are often faced with stigma and discrimination, inadequate health infrastructure, as well as a lack of access to HIV treatments during incarceration or internment in detoxification centres. To address these obstacles, Kamarulzaman urged the development of care models located in non-traditional health care settings that integrate HIV services with substance abuse, psychiatric, and primary care services. She also pointed out the lack of access to harm reduction strategies such as needle exchange programs (NEP) which have proven value in arresting the epidemic. Widespread prejudice and moralistic criticisms are a major obstacle. This is also reflected in the implicit contradictions between the United Nation’s public health approach to HIV, and the punitive focus of its drug control policies which tend to undermine efforts to provide HIV services to IDUs.

As part of Tuesday’s plenary, Dr. Jorge Saavedra (Mexico) delivered the Jonathan Mann Memorial Lecture, named in memory of scientist Jonathan Mann, who is credited with building the WHO’s AIDS Programme from the ground up. Saavedra provided a multi-dimensional overview of the HIV epidemic in men who have sex with men (MSM), specifically highlighting hidden epidemics among MSM in low- and middle- income countries, and factors that increase HIV risk and vulnerability across cultures. He profiled current budget outlays for MSM prevention programs, and provided examples of effective prevention strategies, including community-based interventions. Saavedra called for some specific policy changes including greater involvement of MSM in the planning of national AIDS responses, and the inclusion of MSM prevention strategies in the strategic plans of low- and middle-income countries. There is a great need for donors to both fund MSM programs, and include measures of responsiveness to MSM needs in programme evaluation.

For additional information, including programme information, abstracts, rapporteur and scientific summaries, transcripts and presentations from key conference sessions, please visit


(From the official press release of AIDS 2008)
5 August 2008 - The International AIDS Conference is convened every other year by the International AIDS Society (IAS), the world’s leading independent association of HIV professionals with more than 10,000 members from 172 countries. International institutional partners for AIDS 2008 include: Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and its co-sponsors, the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Food Programme (WFP); International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO); Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GNP+) / International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW); World YWCA; and the Asian Harm Reduction Network (AHRN). This year’ conference is hosted by Mexico City and runs from 3rd to 8th August.

The Conference (AIDS 2008) began with an assessment of the state of the global epidemic as a panel of researchers, public health and civil society leaders examined recent progress toward the scale up of treatment and prevention programs, and called for sustained action to eliminate the barriers to universal access. Progress has doubtless been made in getting universal access but the targets are still a long way off. It is necessary for all nations to live up to their commitments.

“With only two years to go until the 2010 deadline for universal access set by world leaders, we must redouble our commitment to scaling up all proven HIV prevention strategies,” said Dr. Luís Soto Ramírez, Local Co-Chair of AIDS 2008 and Coordinator of the Clinical Care Committee of Mexico’s National AIDS Council.

On Monday, the conference’s opening plenary featured presentations by leading global experts on epidemiological aspects of the epidemic, recent advancements and challenges.

Dr. Geoffrey Garnett (United Kingdom) noted the need for new methods of analyzing HIV prevalence and risks of infection which can help targeted prevention strategies. Regarding the analyses of risk behavior, he illustrated the importance of including social and structural determinants of HIV risk, along with behavioral and biological risk factors. According to Garnett, the powerful synergy of awareness and single effective interventions such as male circumcision could dramatically reduce HIV prevalence rates and facilitate the greater impact of other interventions altering the future spread of HIV.

In another intervention, Dr. Jaime Sepulveda (Mexico) noted that attention to and resources for AIDS are at all-time highs, but the world has only scratched the surface of possibilities in responding to the epidemic. Greater resources, more effectively spent and targeted where they can have the greatest effect, would have a dramatic impact on the epidemic’s course. Sepulveda called for radically increased investments in prevention research, evaluation, and delivery of services, as well as accelerated research on promising prevention methods, including a vaccine.

Sepulveda’s views were reiterated by Alex Coutinho (Uganda), who called for greater political leadership from all countries and accountability at all levels as essential for stopping the epidemic. Citing the results in both treatment and prevention scale up in countries with sustained leadership, such as Rwanda and Tanzania, he made a passionate call for dynamic leadership as a path toward meeting the challenges ahead. He also urged outreach to and support of marginalized and at-risk communities, as well as the greater involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) as a catalyst for change.

Elisabet Fadul (Dominican Republic) outlined a broad and urgent youth HIV/AIDS agenda, with comprehensive rights-based and evidence-based plans to provide access for young people. Highlighting the data that young people (15-24 years of age) account for 40% of new infections worldwide, she noted that HIV prevention and treatment programs are failing to effectively reach young people. The most vulnerable and marginalized are stigmatized, criminalized or forgotten by many of these programs. To reverse this course, she called for actions and policies that engage youth, especially young PLHIV, as respected partners in developing and implementing programs that address their needs and diversity.

Monday, August 4, 2008


The buzz is all about "AIDS 2008 - XVII International AIDS Conference" running from 3-8 August 2008 at Mexico City. So here are a couple of posts on this conference. Let me begin with a post providing the link to a crucial document. It is entitled: UNESCO Guidelines on Language and Content in HIV and AIDS-Related Materials. This is a useful tool to consult for anyone dealing with the topic. Its principal concern is helping people to use the right terminology on issues connected with HIV/AIDS.
"The words we use reflect our understanding and influence our response. The complexity and sensitivities that surround HIV and AIDS make it all the more important to reflect on the words we use and choose them with care."
So if you have some time on your hands - open and read this document. I am sure it will open your mind not just to speak right but also to think right.
The person using compassionate words will sooner or later become more compassionate. Let us hope that the conference becomes the launching pad for many ventures that will help "Make HIV/AIDS History".

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Tomorrow is the Feast of St. John Mary Vianney - popularly called the Cure of Ars. It brought to mind my visit to Ars - a beautiful town in southern France. Here is a picture of the confessional in which he spent many hours reconciling his flock to God and to one another.

And here is a picture of his relics lying in the Church. There is the odour of sanctity in the entire area. He who was not "seminary topper" gave to many an example of dedicated ministry to the 'lost sheep' in his own inimitable way.

Please whisper a prayer for all those in pastoral ministry and for yours truly.

Monday, July 28, 2008


BIS - Bosco Information Service Mumbai: BIS # 1035 PARENTING THE ‘RIGHT WAY’


This concerns my niece, Simran seen here in the picture.
It has been published in the North East England Young Writers book out last month. We didn’t know until Simran came home with a note from her school teacher. Hope that she keeps it up no matter what she does in the future.
He lay his crystal-blue eyes on the swirling dark lake .
He lifted his magnificent head and soared up into the black of the midnight sky.
The darkness coiled around him and the air grew thick and dry, but the beautiful beast feared nothing as was Royal Swan’s Law.

(By Simran Lajmi – Year 7 – Central Newcastle High School , Newcastle upon Tyne , United Kingdom)

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Here is a picture of my dad and mum with their youngest daughter - my baby sister Glo. They keep well and are in good spirits...God is great!

Saturday, July 26, 2008


It's parents day in our part of the planet. Along with the flowers and the cards to make our parents feel special we had a session to guide them on "Parenting the Right Way"...It ended with this poem which I find so meaningful. So here it is...and before I close...."Happy Parent's Day" to my darling mum and dad and to all the parents I have encountered in my life...We are so proud of all that you guys are doing to make our world the dwelling place of lovely children...


If I had my child to raise over again I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.

I'd finger paint more and point fingers less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.

I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.

I would care to know less and know to care more I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.

I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.

I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
I'd see the oak tree in the acorn more often.

I would be firm less often and affirm much more.

I'd model less about the love of power, And more about the power of love.

Diane Looman "Full esteem ahead"

Friday, July 18, 2008


I chanced upon this little piece on a webpage and I knew I had to share it with others...May all of us learn to cope with stress and use it to bring forth our best potentialities...

If you are stressed, do one or all of these things, in whatever order that takes your fancy. These ideas can also be adapted for team development exercises. The key to de-stressing in the moment is getting away from or removing yourself from the stressor. Developing new habits which regularly remove you and distract you from stressors and stressful situations and pressures is essentially how to manage stress on a more permanent basis. In this modern world it is difficult if not impossible to change stressful situations. What we can do however is change and reduce our exposure to those stressful situations.
These stress reduction ideas and techniques are based on that simple principle. These tips won't change the situation causing the stress, but they will, more importantly, enable you to change your reaction and relationship to the stressful situations.
And in keeping with the tone of this stress tips section, and since colour is regarded by many as a factor in affecting mood, the calming shade of green is used for the headings...

Humour is one of the greatest and quickest devices for reducing stress. Humour works because laughter produces helpful chemicals in the brain. Humour also gets your brain thinking and working in a different way - it distracts you from having a stressed mindset. Distraction is a simple effective de-stressor - it takes your thoughts away from the stress, and thereby diffuses the stressful feelings.
Therefore most people will feel quite different and notice a change in mindset after laughing and being distracted by something humorous.
Go read the funny family fortunes answers. Or try the funny letters to the council. Even if you've seen them a hundred times before. As you start to smile and chuckle the stress begins to dissipate.
If this material fails to make you laugh then find something which does.
Keep taking the laughter medicine until you feel suitably relaxed and re-charged.

Go for a short quick really brisk walk outside. Yes, actually leave the building. Change your environment. Breathe in some fresh air and smell the atmosphere... Trees, rain, flowers, traffic fumes - doesn't matter - stimulate your senses with new things.
On your way out keep saying to yourself out loud (and to anyone else you see, in that daft way people say "Elvis has left the building.."): "(your name) is leaving the building.. "
And when you are outside and free say: "(your name) has left the building.. "
You can extend the exercise by going to a park and jogging a little.
Or do a few star-jumps - something energetic to get your body moving and relaxing.
Or stroke a dog, or pick up some litter, or kick a kid's football.
You can of course use other mantras or chants, depending on what you want to do and how far you want to get away from the stress causes, for example: "(your name) is doing star-jumps/picking up litter/looking for a small non-threatening dog.." or "(your name) is leaving/has left the industrial park/district/city/company/country.." etc, etc.
Of course this is daft, but the daftness reduces the stress by removing you from the stress in mind and body.
Doing something daft and physical - and reinforcing it with some daft chanting - opens up the world again.

Go get a big cup or a bottle of water. Here's why...
Most of us fail to drink enough water - that's water - not tea, coffee, coke, 'sports' drinks, Red Bull or fruit juice...All of your organs, including your brain, are strongly dependent on water to function properly. It's how we are built.If you starve your body of water you will function below your best - and you will get stressed. Physically and mentally.Offices and workplaces commonly have a very dry atmosphere due to air conditioning, etc., which increases people's susceptibility to de-hydration.This is why you must keep your body properly hydrated by regularly drinking water (most people need 4-8 glasses of water a day). You will drink more water if you keep some on your desk at all times - it's human nature to drink it if it's there - so go get some now.When you drink water you need to pee. This gives you a bit of a break and a bit of exercise now and then, which also reduces stress.When you pee you can see if your body is properly hydrated (your pee will be clear or near clear - if it's yellow you are not taking enough water).This will also prompt some amusing discussion and chuckling with your colleagues ("Nature calls - I'm off to the bog again...") which is also good for reducing stress.You do not need to buy expensive mineral water. Tap water is fine.If you do not like the taste of tap water it's probably because of the chlorine (aquarium fish don't like it either), however the chlorine dissipates quite naturally after a few hours - even through a plastic bottle - so keep some ordinary tap water in the fridge for 2-3 hours and try it then. If you want to be really exotic add a slice of lemon or lime. Kiwi and sharon fruit are nice too...
So now you are fully watered and guffawing and exercised up to the max, read on for ideas for how to prevent stress as well as reduce and manage it.

(Not so easy but still perfectly possible) Take a quick nap. It is nature's way of recharging and re-energising.
A quick 10-30 minutes' sleep is very helpful to reduce stress. It's obviously essential if you are driving while tired, but a quick sleep is a powerful de-stressor too.
A lunchtime snooze is very practical for home-workers - it just requires the realisation that doing so is acceptable and beneficial (when we are conditioned unfortunately to think that sleeping during the day is lazy, rather than healthy).
At some stage conventional Western industry will 'wake up' to the realisation that many people derive enormous benefit from a midday nap. Sounds ridiculous? Tell that to the many millions in the Mediterranean countries who thrive on a mid-day siesta.
People in the Mediterranean and Central Americas take a siesta every working day, and this is almost certainly related to longer life expectancy and lower levels of heart disease.
See the more detailed evidence and reasoning in the sleep and rest section below.
If your work situation is not quite ready to tolerate the concept of a daytime nap then practise a short session of self-hypnosis, combined with deep breathing, which you can do at your desk, or even in the loo. It works wonders.
See the self-hypnosis and relaxation page.
In the summer of course you can go to the nearest park and try it alfresco (that's from the Italian incidentally, al fresco, meaning in the fresh air - which is another good thing for stress reduction).

Any tea will do, but a flavoured cup of tea is even better. Experiment with different natural flavourings using herbs and spices and fruit. Fresh mint is wonderful, and excellent for the digestive system. Nettles are fantastic and contain natural relaxants. Orange zest is super (use one of those nifty little zester gadgets). Ginger root is brilliant. Many herbs, spices, fruits and edible plants make great flavoured tea, and many herbs and spices have real therapeutic properties.
Use a 'base' of green tea leaves - about half a spoonful per serving - plus the natural flavouring(s) of your choice, and freshly boiled water. Be bold - use lots of leaves - experiment until you find a blend that you really enjoy. Sugar or honey bring out the taste. Best without milk, but milk is fine if you prefer it.
Making the tea and preparing the ingredients take your mind off your problems, and then smelling and drinking the tea also relaxes you. There is something wonderful about natural plants and fruits which you can't buy in a packet. Use a tea-pot or cafetiere, or if you are happy with a bit of foliage in your drink actually brew it in a big mug or heatproof tumbler.
Fresh mint and ginger tea recipe:
Put all this into a teapot or cafetiere and add boiling water for 2-3 cups. Allow to brew for a minute or two, stir and serve. (This is enough for 2-3 mug-sized servings):
1-1½ heaped teaspoons of green tea leaves 2-4 sprigs of fresh mint (a very generous handful of leaves with or without the stems - more than you might imagine)3-6 zest scrapes of an orange half a teaspoon of chopped ginger root2-4 teaspoons of sugar or 1-2 teaspoons of honey - more or less to taste
Alter the amounts to your own taste. The recipe also works very well without the orange and ginger, which is effectively the mint tea drink that is hugely popular in Morocco and other parts of North Africa. Dried mint can be substituted for fresh mint. Experiment. The Moroccan tradition is to use small glass tumblers, and somehow seeing the fine colour of the tea adds to the experience.

Not much is known about the physiology of crying and tears, although many find that crying - weeping proper tears - has a powerful helpful effect on stress levels. Whatever the science behind crying, a good bout of sobbing and weeping does seem to release tension and stress for many people.
Of course how and where you choose to submit to this most basic of emotional impulses is up to you. The middle of the boardroom during an important presentation to a top client is probably not a great idea, but there are more private situations and you should feel free to try it from time to time if the urge takes you.
It is a shame that attitudes towards crying and tears prevent many people from crying, and it's a sad reflection on our unforgiving society that some people who might benefit from a good cry feel that they shouldn't do it ever - even in complete privacy. Unfortunately most of us - especially boys - are told as children that crying is bad or shameful or childish, which of course is utter nonsense. Arguably only the bravest cry unashamedly - the rest of us would rather suffer than appear weak, which is daft, but nevertheless real.
Whatever, shedding a few tears can be a very good thing now and then, and if you've yet to discover its benefits then give it a try. You might be surprised.

In one US study as many as 40% of workers described their jobs as very stressful. While not a scientific gauge and not measuring serious stress health problems, this gives some indication as to how prevalent work-related stress is. As regards official health records, in the UK, the nursing and teaching occupations are most affected by work-related stress, with 2% of workers at any one time suffering from work-related stress, depression and anxiety. (The figure for teachers rises to 4% when including physical conditions relating to stress.) Care workers, managers and professionals are the next highest affected occupations, with over 1% suffering from serious work-related stress at any one time. UK HSE work-related stress statistics suggest that work-related stress affects men and women in equal numbers, and that people in the 45-retirement age suffer more than younger people. More socially-based USA research suggests that the following American social groups are more prone to stress (this therefore not limited to work-related stress): young adults, women, working mothers, less educated people, divorced or widowed people, the unemployed, isolated people, people without health insurance, city dwellers. Combined with the factors affecting stress susceptibility (detailed below), it's not difficult to see that virtually no-one is immune from stress. An American poll found that 89% of respondents had experienced serious stress at some point in their lives. The threat from stress is perceived so strongly in Japan that the Japanese even have a word for sudden death due to overwork, 'karoushi'.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


On the left is our entrance you will notice our campus has been recently paved...the place looks neat, tidy and clean...

This is our community chapel...every morning and evening we gather here to praise and thank the Lord...we receive food for our souls...

This here is our dining hall - where we get food for our bodies...

Well here is a view of our guest rooms...they have been done up recently...

This is a view of our lush green sports is the cynosure of all eyes. Here you can see some of our boys at play...

Here is our reading room and we relax as we receive food for our minds and our eyes...