My Dear Brothers in Christ,
By the Grace of the Most Holy God and the blessings of His Beatitude the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa Theodore II, we continue the blessed struggle of spreading the Gospel and offering to our fellow man.
Recently, your gracious love has given us two new sacred churches. The Church in honour of Saint Parthenius in Mkobe village and the Church dedicated to Saints Panteleimon and Athanasius the Great in Kalenga, Iringa. Last June, by the Grace of God, we celebrated the opening of St. Parthenius Church, which is currently operating as a parish church where come the inhabitants of the village, who a year ago tasted for the first time the experience of celebrating the Divine Liturgy within their own village, in the humble straw hut built by their love for Christ and the Church.
Also, during the joyful season of Easter, on the Thursday of the Easter Week, we celebrated the consecration of the foundation of the Sacred Church of Sts. Panteleimon and Athanasius in Kalenga village. The works have been completed, and in the near future it will be ready to be handed over for operational use. This church is prominently located on the main road network that connects the town of Iringa with the large Ruaha National Park. In a village where Catholics and Muslims prevailed in number, your providence for the sowing the Word of God through the Gospel erected an Orthodox “altar” for the consolidation of our faith until the end of time.
My beloved brothers, your continued love and support strengthen the Orthodox presence in Central Tanzania. Thanks to your support/assistance, the missionary activity of the Diocese of Arusha is expanding to the humanitarian and charitable field as well, paying special attention to the sensitive issue of health for the whole of Africa. St. Nicholas Clinic at the Mission Center of Kintamali, which operates based on the monthly financial support of your Fraternity, has become a point of reference for medical matters in the wider region. Now staffed with a sufficient number of nurses and doctors, it serves hundreds of patients who arrive to be examined and receive the appropriate medications.
Another serious problem that we are called to face, particularly this period, is the malnutrition of the inhabitants of the impoverished region of Iringa. This year the rains were not sufficient, and the maize harvest, from which they make their daily food, ugali, was not good at all The rest of the year is expected to be difficult. With our meager powers we try to respond to the ever-increasing needs of our native brothers. At every Divine Liturgy we offer a meal for all the inhabitants of the villages we visit, with the number of people often exceeding the six hundred. Also, in order to cover more needs on a larger scale, at regular intervals, we distribute food parcels to families- mainly in remote villages- but also to every person who resorts to our mission center.
At the same time, our actions also extend to the field of education. In Tanzania, from the first school steps, education is paid for, which is a brake to the enrollment of children from poor families at any level of education. On the initiative of the Bishopric and with the undivided support of the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity, educational scholarships are granted to students for the continuation and completion of their studies. It is noteworthy that several of these children excel in their academic performance.
Our constant desire is the continuous investment in our children’s education and professional training. Moving in this direction, we envisage the establishment of a Technical School in our new versatile Mission Center in the city of Arusha. This school will provide students with the necessary knowledge and expertise to practice occupations that ensure sustainable livelihoods for both boys and girls.
It is an ambitious “vision”, which looks forward to the future of our children. By the Grace of God, the architectural plans have already been completed. They were drawn up by a selfless, kind-hearted Spanish architect, a friend of our Bishopric, who did not ask for any payment for his work. However, as you understand, their implementation exceeds our limited powers. Once again, having unwavering faith and hope in God’s providence and in your own philanthropic feelings, we appeal to your kind heart to support the construction of the School so that our young people, the young people of Tanzania, can dream and set goals for a promising future.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in closing this short communication of ours, I would once again like to express to all of you my deepest gratitude and most sincere appreciation for your support. May the All-Good God bless your lives abundantly!
With best wishes and infinite thanks,
† Agathonikos of Arusha