My dear brothers, Rejoice in the Lord always!
May St.Demetrius, the Holy and Great Martyr, protector and patron saint of the holy city of Thessaloniki, intercede with God for us
By the Grace of God and with the blessings of His Beatitude Theodore II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, and the wishes of His Eminence Metropolitan Meletios of Katanga, the work at the Holy Monastery of the Holy Apostles in Tsabhula is progressing steadily despite the multiple problems it faces.
It is important to emphasize that the works here in the Congo cannot proceed easily not only because of the people’s poor living conditions but also because of the low level of the country as regards technological advancements- the country is 50 years behind the other European countries. As you can see, in order for a project to move forward, it takes a lot of effort, time and double money to be completed.
So, after my visit this month to the offices of the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity and our extensive discussion about the overall work of the Mission, of which you all happen to be helpers and supporters, I come to state our request in writing.
As you know, the blessed pioneer Missionary Archim. Fr. Kosmas Gregoriatis (Aslanides) in his effort to carry out the work of the Mission and the Evangelization of our African brothers in the Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, created a “farm”. The purpose of the farm was to cultivate the land for corn and vegetables and raise a few livestock animals in order to have the necessary products for the various needs of the Priests, the boarding schools, the occasional meals for all the Christians, for support to the prisoners, for charity in general, and even for the required gifts to the rulers of the place, to have them as helpers in time of need.
And indeed, he could satisfactorily meet the various needs of the local Church with the proper operation of the farm. Afterwards and for several years and during the ministry of His Eminence our current Metropolitan Meletios, the farm offered enough.
However, we must note that water is absolutely necessary to maintain a farm. Unfortunately, this precious good that gave life to our Mission farm, as we will clarify below, does not exist anymore. This has been going on since 2015.
Late Fr. Kosmas with his father Demetrius Aslanides worked hard to find a way to bring water to the farm from a distance of three kilometers. After building a small dam at the mouth of the springs, they started digging with hoes and pickaxes creating a channel sideways, in some places even 2-3 meters deep, in order to manage to bring water to its destination.
And so, there was always plenty of water. Naturally, there was always some damage caused either by sudden floods, or by forest animals, or even by large eels that made holes to reach the river below, which were corrected with timely interventions though.
Everything was fine until hundreds of families started arriving in our area, struggling to survive. The area around the farm, once rich in forests with plenty of animals, has now been completely deforested either for human habitation or for ore mining by various companies, where people work for a scanty pay.
As a result of the displacement of so many people, we lost the water that sustained our farm. This made it impossible to keep our farm running, so in 2015, the crop production stopped. Now, we can only keep very few (livestock) animals by laboriously carrying some water in plastic jerry cans from our neighboring monastery.
The only solution is to dig a borehole in order to extract the supreme good of water, with the aim of recreating our farm. We hope in raising awareness among the partners and readers of your highly respected.
We thank you wholeheartedly for your loving response to our various needs from time to time and we humbly pray to the Holy Triune God to bless you and those who help in the vineyard of our Lord, and prosper you all at your noble work, the great field of Mission.
The whole cost is estimated at about 10,000 euro, along with the installation of solar panels, as there is no electricity in the area.
With love of Christ
Archim. Fr. Varnavas Gregoriates