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Remembering Fidele Nsengiyumva

June 2012

On the 24 May, the Christian Aid Rwanda and Burundi programme lost a good friend and ally in the battle against HIV and stigma. Fidele Nsengiyumva, who died in hospital of prostate cancer, was the national coordinator of our partner Rwanda Network of Religious Leaders living with or personally affected by HIV and AIDS, RWANERELA+.

He lived positively with HIV for more than a decade and was a strong activist in fighting HIV and AIDS as well as stigma and discrimination.

Fidele Nsengiyumva

Join us as we remember the life of Fidele Nsengiyumva who sadly passed away last month.

He was born in 1957 in the Northern Province of Rwanda and was the third of seven children. In 2000, Fidele and his wife, Antoinette, discovered that they were both HIV positive. Sadly, Antoinette died in March 2003.

It was around that time that Fidele began working on HIV in earnest, work which would touch the lives of many Rwandans and Burundians living with the illness. 

He started up the HIV department of the Evangelical Friends’ Church, helping to resolve conflicts within families following a positive diagnosis.

In 2002, Fidele met Rev. Canon Gideon Byamugisha, the first African religious leader to make public his HIV positive status, who inspired him to join the battle against stigma.

In 2004, Fidele started Light of Life together with 20 other religious leaders living with or affected by HIV and AIDS and after several consultations with the continental network ANERELA+, it became RWANERELA+.

Fidele was appointed national coordinator of RWANERELA+ in 2007 and established partnerships with international organisations such as Christian Aid.

Thanks in part to his efforts to fight discrimination, more than 200 religious leaders from various denominations and religious backgrounds were able to disclose their status. As well as continuing to share his testimony whenever and wherever possible, Fidele was also determined to offer practical support for those who needed it most.

He established support groups among RWANERELA+ members - local units providing help for those who were rejected by their community due to their HIV+ status.

Fidele’s influence was also felt beyond Rwanda’s borders. He worked on HIV in eastern Congo and Burundi and supported the launch and development of BUNERELA+, which is providing help to Burundians living with HIV. His energy, commitment and compassion will be missed enormously. 

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