On Thursday June 7, His Eminence Metropolitan George of Guinea, with the wishes and blessings of His Beatitude Theodore II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa. arrived in Guinea through Mauritania. In the following days, he met with Orthodox Guineans, Russians and Ukrainians working in Guinea and visited real estate to find a suitable plot of land for the construction of a church in a suburb of the capital city, Conakry.
On Sunday, June 10, he performed the Divine Liturgy at the residence of a Greek-American woman. On Monday His Eminence visited the “Greek Square”, as it is called by the natives, inspected the progress of the construction works of the Holy Parthenios Church and of the “Friendship of Greece-Guinea” Academy and gave the necessary instructions for the immediate completion of the projects. The Orthodox Missionary Fraternity contributed decisively to the erection of both the church and the Academy.
On the afternoon of Thursday, June 14, he went to the Conakry port customs office and settled the customs clearance procedures for a humanitarian aid container, which arrived in Guinea a few days later and was sent to the children of Guinea by the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity. It was loaded by volunteers on May 6th and contains- among other things- religious items, 576 rice bags, 100 boxes of biscuits, 96 boxes of sugar, 83 boxes of flour, 55 boxes of candy, 52 boxes of sweetened condensed milk, 50 boxes of cooking oil, 40 boxes of salt, tomato paste, pasta, halva and 329 boxes of clothes, shoes, toys, books, and others. This aid will relieve hundreds of poor families in Guinea, where 47% of the population lives in abject conditions while 93% of them have no access to drinking water, and infant mortality is soaring.
Late Friday evening on June 15, His Eminence Metropolitan George of Guinea arrived in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone, where he was welcomed at the port by the Chancellor of the Metropolis Fr. Themistocles Adamopoulos. On Saturday morning, he officiated at the Divine Liturgy and preached the Word of God at the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen, and during the D. Liturgy, he ordained Soterios Sesay to Deacon. His Eminence gave parental counsel to the new Deacon, stressing the responsibilities he assumed as a soldier of Christ, and then addressed to the young people, who comprised the majority of the congregation, saying among other things how important it is to take advantage of the opportunity given to them by the Orthodox Schools in Sierra Leone to train and study in model schools and colleges so as to be able to work in order to improve the living conditions in their country and help- each one in their own way-for its growth and prosperity, always having the Lord Jesus Christ above all and the saints of the Church as role models. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the youth presented an artistic program of Christian songs and traditional dances, and Sister Minais distributed knitted crosses to all the young people present.
In the afternoon His Eminence was briefed by Fr. Themistocles and his associates on the course of the works and thanked Fr. Themistocles, Maria Adams, teacher, and Dr. Eleni Athinodorou for the great work they have been doing in Sierra Leone, particularly in the field of education.
On Sunday 17 June, His Eminence Metropolitan George of Guinea officiated at the Divine Liturgy and proclaimed the Divine Word at the Church of St. Moses the Black in Waterloo region of Sierra Leone and ordained Deacon Nektarios Kollie to Elder and the instructor Athanasios Sesay to Deacon. In his address, His Eminence referred to the Gospel of the day, gave admonitions to the new clergymen, and then spoke about the position of the woman in the Orthodox Church and the duties of the elders’ wives (presbyteres), who should be role models for all women in the parishes where their husbands serve as church priests. He went on to stress the importance of the work the teachers in Orthodox schools have to do, and also referred to the great destruction that the Ebola virus had caused, wishing it would stay in the past as a nightmare and urging everyone to be careful and strictly follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health for prevention of reccurrence of a deadly virus outbreak in the country.
After the dismissal of the Divine Liturgy, the Eminence visited all the classes of the Kindergarten and the Primary School of the parish, and distributed to all the children candy, pencils and balloons, and to the outstanding pupils color palettes, courtesy of the congregation of the St. Athanasios Patriarchal glebe in Kypseli. Next he visited the clinic and the first building of the Orthodox Children’s Village for Orphaned Children, which will be inaugurated in November by His Beatitude Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria.
On Monday, June 18, His Eminence visited the largest slum in the center of the capital city of Sierra Leone, which has sheltered over 20,000 adults and children living under wretched conditions without water, electricity or any access to sanitation facilities. During the rainy season these people are at risk of being drowned by large water streams or being killed by landslides. There His Eminence and his entourage were met by a local councilor, who led them to the rudimentary school for the slum children. The pictures were horrible, yet, despite the miserable conditions and the hassle of the children, they were all very glad about our visit. His Eminence, on behalf of the Patriarchate, pledged to undertake the immediate refurbishment of the school and the rapid training of the teachers at the Sierra Leone Orthodox Pedagogical Academy. To all the children Sister Minais offered candy and stationery.
In the afternoon a gathering of priests took place in the presence of all the clergy and members of the ecclesiastical youth choir. Functional as well as other practical issues were discussed at the meeting. Finally, gifts were offered to all the priests and the young people present.
Prior to his departure from Sierra Leone, His Eminence publicly thanked the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity for their continued support for twenty consecutive years now as well as for the humanitarian aid they sent through this container to Guinea and Sierra Leone.
George of Guinea