[ SOCIAL AND PASTORAL BULLETIN No. 138 / Jun. 15 .2007 ]
Abe Keita (Franciscan priest)  

In the past issue of August 2005, I presented the end of the activities of Franciscan Father Nemoto Akio with HIV/AIDS patients in the South African Republic, before he moved to do missionary work in Russia.
News has arrived from Fr. Nemoto. He explains the reasons why he moved from South Africa to Russia and the situation in which AIDS Russian patients find themselves.
Fr. Nemoto, in his confrontation as a Christian with the fury how AIDS have been spread through all over the world, felt strongly the need to transmit to others the importance of showing respect to life. He thought about the matter during his stay in Africa where he met with AIDS patients and was not able to do anything for them.
There is a demand for urgent measures to increase medicines against AIDS, as well as establish more medical facilities and medical staff, because the disease is not diminishing, but on the opposite, the disease continues spreading rapidly in Russia, Europe and China.
In fact, since AIDS is very destructive and its handling quite complicated it remains an issue that has no other comparison. There is no medical treatment or vaccine able to totally heal it and no matter the efforts its continuous spread knows no limit. During the Year 2004, more than 4,900,000 people were infected with the disease and 3,100,000 people died of AIDS. The UN estimates that the numbers of HIV patients remains high through Africa and South East Asia and fears about the spreading of the disease in East Europe, China and Russia.
Fr. Nemoto says that, the more he observed the realities of AIDS the more he strongly felt the need to do something for those patients in other regions.
Thus, he left for Russia and similar to Africa looked for the poorest slums convinced that he could find in them many patients, as it is the case with other poor environments where AIDS spreads very quickly. That was the same in South Africa where the disease found a fertile soil to spread.
At present, the UN and various international assistance organizations continue helping South Africa to fight the disease, but Fr. Nemoto feels that AIDS is vastly spreading in other regions that are not reached by international assistance.
Street children are steadily increasing in Russia. It means that such sad social phenomena trigger also off the spread of AIDS. This is a sign that in big countries too, no matter their size, a stretching poverty can not remain hidden. Unemployment, DV (Domestic Violence) , alcoholic parents, children of divorced families refusing to go to school or running off from home and becoming drug addicts or inhalers of paint thinner, violence and rapes escalate in all kinds of crimes often ending in AIDS infections.

Fr. Nemoto seemingly took over this Russian missionary project to make appeals so that countries around the world take prompt action, not to repeat the same errors of Africa.
One of his most cherished desires is to promote all over the world the "education of life" so that people respect life, not only medicines and medical treatment, that patients form an atmosphere of mutual support and solidarity links that surpass national borders.
Patients still able to walk and those who can communicate with others can visit those lying in bed and share with them their pain. They can encourage each other by praying together and although their lives might be short, they can confront death and console mutually each other. I do not think that any medicine or fit medical treatment could ever surpass this. And there is no better sign of respect for life than this. Because of this he wanted to implement such a project.
Fr. Nemoto ends his letter adding that he is confident that, the day when patients from Africa and Russia start to mutually communicate and encourage each other the links of solidarity and healing will widely develop. Fr. Nemoto becomes 76 this year. I felt that the new challenge of moving from South Africa to Russia will continue.
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