Our orphans of Arusha

My beloved brothers,

It is with great joy that I contact you in order to convey to you our recent experiences from the Diocese of Arusha, where, with our humble powers, we minister along with my chancellor Fr. Porphyrios, brother hieromonk of the Holy Monastery of St. Dionysios of Mount Olympus.

Orphanhood is perhaps the most serious problem in Africa. Millions of children were orphaned due to AIDS, malaria, typhus, famine… It is tragic in our age that boasts of its technological and scientific progress, to see children die helpless. The scientific community is looking for water on Mars, while the orphaned children of Africa are dying from drinking muddy water! The great powers brag about their ability to destroy the earth not once but a dozen times, but they ignore the struggle of millions of orphaned children to stand on their feet due to weakness caused by hunger.

In Africa, which for centuries the «civilized» West had been draining with its own colonial policy, the cruelty of its stuffiness, the theft of its wealth, the bleeding of its human resources through slave trade, its people remain simple-hearted. They still retain their decency and smile despite their indigence and orphanhood. There are a lot of things the «mzungu», the white ones, can learn from these people if they approach them with a spirit of humility and apprenticeship. The smile in times of difficulty, spontaneity and immediacy, endurance and perseverance, enthusiasm, simplicity of heart and so many others! Since I started talking about orphanhood though, allow me to describe to you a relevant incident.

After drilling a borehole in Sasa Mambo, a remote village in Iringa region, , we were approached by a group of women and were asked, if possible, to build in their village a maternity clinic because twenty native women died due to labor complications, leaving their babies orphaned in childbirth.. It may sound creepy, but it is so real! It is neither the low IQ, nor the sluggishness of these people, but the difficult climatic conditions with extreme weather phenomena in conjunction with the abandonment and the apathy of the rulers that create such problems. Now, by building the new clinic, whose construction, God willing, will begin at our Mission center in Kidamali, such problems are going to be solved.

It is really worth mentioning the fact that the social system of these humble and despised people gives a spontaneous and immediate solution to such social problems. If a child is left orphaned, then the nearest relatives or the neighbors rush to adopt it. So, as a rule, whenever you hear an African say “my mother” or “my brother”, you know that he does not mean his natural mother or brother but the adopting mother or the step brother. We also watch in the soup kitchens how lovingly crawling babies share their bite with the ones beside them, or how affectionately little girls carry their orphaned little ‘”siblings” on their back. Lessons of humanity for the so called»civilized» Europeans, who do not hesitate to throw their own children into the garbage can.

This is how one learns to have different values and principles in Africa. What matters is not how many times I can destroy the earth to show my supremacy over the others, but how many tears of people crying I wipe away, how many orphans I feed to show my humanity.

I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for your support in this difficult but beautiful mission work of the Orthodox Church and of our Patriarchate.

With love in Christ
†Agathonikos of Arusha

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