In the area of the Equator where we live, there are no four seasons as in Europe, but two major periods: the period of rainfall and that of drought, usually the latter being longer, and resulting in the suffering of both humans and animals. We should bear in mind that what is taken for granted in our country does not exist here. For example, when the people in Greece get thirsty, it is perfectly natural for them to turn on the tap to drink clean water, and when they get dirty or feel hot and want to have a bath, by just pressing a button there is plenty of warm water for them to wash… However, in most of Africa, and particularly here at the Rift Valley Plateau, the most impressive region of Central Tanzania, all of them are «unattainable dreams»!
It is a «dream» for thousands of children to run to the water-well near their village to wash and quench their thirst. The idea of obtaining a water supply system within their homes -at least for the next fifty years- seems to be a utopia!
It is with feelings of deep gratitude and emotion that I am writing these lines because thanks to the financial assistance of your Fraternity-the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity of Thessaloniki- we carried out two drillings in two extremely barren areas, where the people are really suffering. Thank God, we found plenty of clean water at a depth of more than 100 meters! It is very touching to see the tearful eyes and the chapped lips of the small children now in the dry season, but also the wild animals, all of which are suffering. Elephants, antelopes and giraffes, are approaching inhabited areas defeating their fear, in the hope of finding some water and quenching their burning thirst.
In this corner of the earth where we were sent by the grace of God and the love of our Patriarch, there is a great need for provision of medical care to our brothers. Many diseases, several of which weird, afflict young children and adults, which immediately raises the need for medical centers. Relying on our humble abilities and taking slow steps, we began operating a medical clinic at our Mission Center in Kidamali, Iringa, which is visited by a large number of patients from the surrounding areas. It should be organized in the form of a polyclinic with several specialties, as there are various diseases the people are suffering from and the state-run health care system is rudimentary. The current running costs of our clinic amount to € 2,000. Yet, we started this project being fully aware of its difficulties but we have faith in God and we hope for your love and support!
Undoubtedly, though, one thing is unquestionable: that the love of our Lord Jesus Christ is always present. One day we baptized a group of people, among whom a little girl with huge pus-filled pimples on her tiny head, all of which disappeared immediately after she had been baptized.
In July, we also held a Seminar for Clergy Candidates chosen among our already existing Catechists, trying to pass down to them pure, genuine love for the Tradition of our Holy Church as well as for Priesthood. Our flock is totally unaware of our faith; therefore, we must teach them everything, even the most obvious concepts of our religion. I also want to inform you that we have laid the foundation stone for the rebuilding of the old church of Saint John the Theologian in Ibongo village. This project is supported by your Fraternity in memory of our sister Parthena. We thank you wholeheartedly for that.
It is very important that our Church offers truth and love to our suffering brother anywhere in the world. We did not come to preach a Christ distant and apathetic to the daily needs of the people who are suffering but to bear witness to Christ’s presence, to proclaim that He is close to the “least” of His children, who we Christians call “our brothers”, but many times we become numb to their needs due to our complacency that derives from our participation in the long solemn services and the spiritual «garrulity» of our otherwise Orthodox experiences.
Africa needs hands and hearts that love through deeds, not words and theories, for «the harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few» (Matt. 9:37).
With infinite gratitude and love in Christ
† Agathonikos of Arusha