A mission entrusted to him by the Provincial of the West Africa Province with the approval of the Regional Superior of the Rwanda-Burundi Region, Fr. Désiré Yamuremye, SJ reigns as new director for Centre Culturel Loyola (CCL) and Centre Espérance Loyola (CEL), in Lomé, Togo.

A Jesuit from Burundi, Fr. Désiré, SJ was ordained ten years ago and has served in several capacities in his native country. He is celebrated as the founding father and first director of Yezu Mwiza a well-known Centre in Burundi for its engagement in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Fr. Désiré’s voice of reason has echoed in the ears of many in Burundi while serving as a member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and as Speaker, and Commissioner of Communication and Public Relations. He is also known in health ministry circles for his commitment to the fight against AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis in collaboration with the Global Fund.

The history of conflict and war in Burundi could not stop Fr. Désiré, SJ from quenching his thirst for knowledge! And a first master’s degree in sociology was not enough! Certainly, not even his second Master of Arts Degree in Moral Theology which he was recently awarded from the Gregorian University in Roma. “…the knowledge I have gained especially on neuroethics has shed light on various issues of identities and reconciliation in Burundi” said Fr. Désiré, SJ highlighting the importance of his second master’s degree.

Interacting with young adults at Centre Culturel Loyola (CCL) through sport and music, he says, is an important avenue to pass across HIV prevention messages to the youth. “It is also a great platform to spread the message of peace and reconciliation especially because conflict, war, and HIV are inseparable” said Fr. Désiré, SJ. During his tenure, he hopes to advocate for the dignity and rights of People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) and orphans and easy access to healthcare for the fullness of life. “…healthcare is not only about medical care but also psychological and moral care against stigma in the community especially in the Church” said Fr. Désiré, SJ.

As he takes up the mantle of leadership at Centre Culturel Loyola (CCL) and Centre Espérance Loyola (CEL), one thing that will not escape his mind is the need to work with young people and the need for Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV. “We have to focus our HIV prevention messages and strategies to young people as a key population when dealing with HIV and AIDS” said Fr. Désiré, SJ. He strongly believes that doing so would protect the future generations to live free from HIV.

Fr. Désiré, SJ foresees donor fatigue and the need to come up with innovative solutions and strategies to address HIV and AIDS as challenges that lie ahead. “I come from Burundi. I also anticipate cultural challenges but I hope to take every step as an opportunity” said Fr. Désiré, SJ.

During his tenure, Fr. Désiré, SJ hopes to bring about the spirit of innovation and dynamism and hopes to connect Centre Culturel Loyola (CCL) and Centre Espérance Loyola (CEL) as centres of social apostolate of the Society of Jesus in Togo. “…My dream is to make these two centers a model of collaboration between Jesuits and lay people just like the kingdom of God, where Faith, Charity and Hope abide” said Fr. Désiré, SJ.

Taking every new day as a new call of Jesus Christ in His Church, His Word, and the Society of Jesus is what motivates Fr. Désiré, SJ. He sees each new day as a new call to make the difference and try to achieve the content of Matthew 25 ‘The Parable of the Ten Virgins.’

In conclusion, Fr. Désiré, SJ noted that perhaps, AJAN needs to rebrand itself to become African Jesuit AIDS and Health Network (AJAHN); for the simple fact that Jesuits in Africa continue to play a great role not only in HIV and AIDS but in the entire field of Health sector. “…amagara aruta amajana…” which translated as “…Health is important than money.”

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