The role of the church in eradicating poverty in Ibanda Parish in light of populorum progressio : A case study of Ibanda Parish
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In African context, life is a supreme good and whatever promotes life is good. The Church teaches that life is sacred and each person has God‟s life, law and love deeply imprinted on his/her very nature. Being in the image and likeness of God, the human being possesses the dignity of a person which must be protected (Paul VI, 1967, no. 14). Every person has the right to life, to bodily integrity, and to the means which are suitable for the integral development of life (John XXIII, 1963, no. 11). Majority of the people in Ibanda Parish are peasants with few working class people, that is, majority of the people are poor. This is so because most of them are illiterate, that is to say, they did not acquire education to qualify them for certain jobs. As a result, they resort to farming as the only alternative for survival. Many lack basic needs such as food, clothes, shelter, security and health facilities. In Ibanda Parish, the poor not only suffer from dire poverty but are also subjected to increasing exploitation, marginalization, discrimination and oppression from the rich and the well-off in the society. Poverty is one of the issues that affects so many people in different walks of life. It is evil and source of very many problems in life. Due to few or no jobs, many people have become alcoholics, drug addicts especially the youth. Theft cases and immorality have increased and many people live in hopelessness and despair thinking that nothing can be done on their situation and that God cannot or will not help them. Most people are working overtime in order to get what to survive on; this has greatly affected their prayer life whereby many people no longer have time for Church Masses, Church devotions and movements since they are always working to get what to survive on. Most of these affected people are definitely living in poverty. Such poverty makes it impossible to bring about that full humanism, salvation of souls and the transformation of the society which the Church hopes for and pursues so that people may live in conditions that are more human (Compedium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 2005, no. 449). Due to this background, a study on, “The role of the Church in eradicating poverty in Ibanda Parish in light of Populorum Progressio” was conceived with a general objective to establish the role of the Church in eradicating poverty in Ibanda Parish. Three specific objectives guided the researcher in this study and they include: to find out the causes of poverty in Ibanda Parish, to examine how poverty has affected the practice of Catholic faith in Ibanda Parish, and to suggest the ways through which the Church can use to eradicate poverty in Ibanda Parish. Related literature to the study was reviewed and examined by the researcher guided by the objectives. Direct and participatory observation, oral interviews, document review, questionnaires, and focus group discussions were used by the researcher as tools for collecting data. After getting a letter of introduction from the dean of studies National Seminary Ggaba and using the study tools indicated, the researcher carried out the field study in Ibanda Parish-Mbarara Archdiocese. Data from the field was presented and analyzed. Qualitative data was analyzed thematically while quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics which involved the use of tables, frequencies, percentages, charts and graphs. The study findings were discussed by the researcher comparing them with the reviewed literature. The findings revealed that inadequate formal education by many people in Ibanda Parish is the prime cause of poverty and almost all other causes of poverty emanate from poor education among the people. The researcher then came out with a conclusion that Integral Catechesis and Holistic Education will to a large extent solve the problem of poverty and promote the Practice of the Catholic faith in Ibanda Parish. If holistic education is attained, people will have the ability to deal with many other causes of poverty which include: Alcoholism, drug abuse, diseases, economic ignorance, over population, Lack of land, Laziness, low level of income, selfishness, corruption, and unemployment. Solutions to the challenges include: Economic empowerment of the people, establishing self-reliance projects, encouraging solidarity and hard work, promoting education, promoting health, and co-operating with government development programs. From the above observations, the researcher recommends that since there is a deep relationship between education and development, the leaders of Ibanda Parish should promote adequate education which is holistic and integral for the common good. This should be done by promoting Catholic schools in the Parish from the nursery level to the university level by collaborating with the government Ministry of Education in the district in choosing the heads of these Catholic schools and Institutions. They should also promote vocational training and technical schools which supply the students with practical skills to earn a living. Finally, for all this to be effective, the Priests of Ibanda Parish should ensure that the faithful are given integral catechesis through home to home visitations and in their every day homilies so that people are well equipped.