On the Edge of Poverty

Dear Friends of the Mission,

I feel the need to communicate with you to make you partakers of the missionary work. With the help of God and the blessing of His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch Theodoros, the missionary and charity work progresses slowly but steadily. Our work is multidimensional due to the large number of needs in both fields, that of Mission and the philanthropic one. Everyday new things, needs and problems arise. Natives always look forward to our aid, thinking that we can solve all kinds of issues because they themselves have no access to the state or to persons holding a position or to economically well-off people. People with health problems come to us on a daily basis. In these cases we refer them to our own medical clinics, but when the problem is somewhat serious, we send them to a hospital under escort. In many villages that we visit we experience serious incidents that sooner or later lead the patient to premature death as the condition is at an advanced stage and is not reversible. Mission clinics prevent many such cases and save lives in the vast deserts where they operate.

Love for the salvation of both bodies and souls, leaves no room for opportunities to be lost, dispensing trouble, time and money in order to save even one soul. Our brother, whatever that may be, does not cease to be Christ himself, and we must place ourselves in the position of the good Samaritan. All of this is not easy to handle, because first and foremost the Mission is in need of capable, hard-working people, time and money. Half of the success of the whole project in the Mission depends on the persons involved. Unfortunately, such gifted laborers are absent from almost all Missions; as a result, the burden of the Mission falls on the shoulders of very few people.

The distances are very long and the roads are in an awful condition, which makes our short pastoral trips to many remote areas much harder. Our Christians are expecting us to go there so that they can hear God’s word and talk to us about their problems.

People cut off from our well-known civilized world are asking to share their love and everything that they are concerned about. Such areas lack not only electricity, which is non-existent even in large towns, but also water. In these barren and arid areas, when possible, the Mission builds cisterns in the center of the village and fills them from the water cart, so that people can have a little clean drinking water. In Toliara region, where it rarely rains, lack of water is a serious problem. You can see people transporting water from many kilometers away with the jerry cans on their heads or with improvised wheelbarrows or even with ox-carts. There are several villages along the road in rocky areas, without any other vegetation than wild shrubs.

Their only job is to make charcoal and sell it in Toliara. Their image is tragic. Their clothes are shabby, dirty, torn, almost ragged. Their primitive outdoor oven is a charcoal or wood-burning one. Their kitchen utensils are in an awful condition, without any basic hygiene rules. Little children do not go to school because there are not any; as a result, they play all day with dirt and makeshift toys. With a few pieces of candy that we give them, they are overjoyed and even lick the paper the candy is wrapped in. There is the pinnacle of poverty and deprivation. We promised to make them a small school and a small church. It would be gift a from heaven if the Fraternity could help us construct these two small buildings. Let us hope that God will send a warm-hearted donor to our assistance. Hope is never lost. It dies last. The Lord will provide.

† Ignatius of Madagascar

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