The Faithful House Program in Zambia
Targets and Aim of the Program
The Faithful House program targets married couples to help them build up fidelity skills and live a perpetually faithful married life-style that promotes and respects human life and reduces the risk of AIDS through strengthened couple and family ties, in this way, becoming models of Christian family life. In the context of HIV-AIDS, the program also looks at the chances of prolonged life and reduced re-infection and new transmission as a way of promoting continued fruitful family life. The program can also be adapted to those in courtship by helping them understand the beauty of human sexuality and love and to re-enforce in them the value of chastity and skills for healthy human relationships.
History of the Faithful House in Zambia
The Faithful House program is traced to 2009 when Africa Family Life Federation organized an international beneficiary and couple facilitators training session in Nairobi. After that training, the program was progressively introduced in the Dioceses of Solwezi, Ndola, Mansa and Lusaka. As of December 2014, there were a total number of 378 couple beneficiaries, 15 single parents, 2 priests and a nun. Of these, 31 are couple facilitators.
The Program Structure and Methodology
The Faithful House program progresses in four modules: the Frame of the House, Completion, Life in the Faithful House and the Inside Challenges. The methodology of the program involves gathering the participants’ views, supplementing them with Scripture and the Church’s teaching, and then, a private couples’ evaluation of their married life. This part invites participants to mend up the broken pieces of their married life.
Building the Faithful House
The Faithful House training session is patterned on the metaphor of an African procedure of erecting a physical house: the foundation, four pillars, walls, windows, roof, matrimonial-bed, children’s room, surrounding cultures, broken houses and God in marriage. So, the program begins by highlighting the foundation of family life as God; the four pillars of marriage as love, fidelity, respect and communication; the walls as the family values; the door as the couple’s shared family authority; the windows of light as forgiveness; and the roof as consciousness.
Next, couples move on to discuss the inside life of the Faithful House: marriage bed, referring to marital sexual life, natural family planning and positive parenting; then the influence of the surrounding cultures as broken houses, alcoholism, domestic violence and infidelity. The last session underlines God’s mercy and faith as the basis of the beauty of every marriage.
Program Objectives: The include the promotion of:
- Couple lasting fidelity
- Reductions of the families’ vulnerability to HIV/AIDS
- Positive parenting and respect for human life
- The couple appreciation of the sanctity and goodness of family life
- Spousal mutual respect
- Families free of gender violence
Program’s Link to Natural Family Planning:
The Faithful House program is the preliminary stage of the training of the couples in skills of Natural Family Planning. This is based on an assumption that the efficacy of Natural Family planning is highly dependent of good family life and effective communication of the spouses. The incorporation of the Natural Family Planning skills in the program further enriches the aim of the program.
Program Participant Testimonies:
1. Mrs. Gloria Banda from Chawama Parish: “This program has enriched me, so much so that it has reminded me to live by my marriage vows. I will be more loving to my spouse, will forgive him when he wrongs me and I will be faithful to him until death do us part. I would like to go up to the next step so that I can also be teaching others.”
2. Mr. John Mulukisi of Christ the King Parish: “The Faithful House program has kindled my love for my wife; it has exposed the dark spots of my marriage; strengthened my faith and encouraged me to be a good facilitator.”
3. Mr. & Mrs Sylvester and Mary Ngoma of St. Stephen, Situmbeko Parish: “The program has taught us how we can live happily as a family that is faithful to each other and above all, to God. We recommend that this program be extended to all married couples so that families can unite, and in turn, help each other to fight the scourge of HIV and AIDS.”
In the wake of so many marriage and family challenges, knowledge and skill empowerment, consultation and counseling and a good moral standing of the couple facilitators is imperative. The accompaniment of sisters and priests cannot be overlooked whereas as the role of couples as teachers of other couples is paramount.
Support Strategy of the Program:
The Program is implemented in the spirit of Christian charity. Charity is therefore required of both the couple facilitators and the beneficiaries. This is in terms of time and finances, respectively. Couple patronage and diocesan family day special collections are used as some means of supporting the program. In this way, even the couples that cannot afford the cost of attending a training session can benefit. Where possible and justifiable, the program leaders source for funds from charitable organization.