The children arrived at the Camp singing happily! They were coming into the jungles from the shanties where they live. The camp for them must have looked like a palace! Unlike them, we were in despair!
The Kasikizi Camp season started, but we had no money to buy food (beans, rice and n’dizi – the bananas that they eat cooked). And it’s not just the food. An unbearable expense is the children’s fare, that is, taking them back and forth to their villages with the escort of the parish priest.
No light anywhere. We wondered if it was our sins that condemned us to this lack of money. We begged the Lord to forgive us and pity His little black children.
In the midst of this difficulty though, a message suddenly arrived that said the following:
Once Saint Iakovos Tsalikis asked late Father Paul, later Rev. Metropolitan of Siatista:
—Will you run the Camps this year, Father Paul?
—No, Elder, we have no money.
—You should definitely do it, because the Camp benefits the children a lot. Come and get whatever food you need from the Monastery and take this money as well to host the children.
As soon as I read it, I did my cross and begged the Holy Elder to help us in this difficult situation we found ourselves in.
—My Saint, help the Camp of Bukomba as you helped the Camp of Chalkida.
It was not long before help arrived. The money came in and the Camps ran smoothly. We found ourselves in the same difficult situation again these days, so we started prayer and supplication to Saint James again. One more time, help arrived promptly.
The Monastery of St. David of Euboea has already funded and built two churches in our Diocese. This happened during the abbotship of Elder Cyril, one in Kitwe in honour of St. David of Euboea and one in honor of St. John the Russian. So we decided to dedicate the Chapel of the Diocese in Mwanza to the Holy Elder Iakovos to thank him and have him as a constant helper and supporter.
We had the blessing of meeting Holy Elder Iakovos in personal on pilgrimages to the Monastery of St. David of Euboea. During the Anti-heretic Conferences which we held at St. John the Russian’s Monastery, we repeatedly visited him along with late Fr. Antonios Alevizopoulos, who respected him very much. We had another personal visit with Elder Benedict in September 1990. We received his blessing and asked him specific questions about the Sacrament of Confession, as we were then young spiritual fathers. We treasured his enlightened answers as a valuable guide during the 40 years of our spiritual ministry and shared them with other spiritual fathers.
We ministered the work of the Camps during the 38 years of the missionary ministry in the Diocese of Ierissos (1982-2020). For 33 years, about 10,000 children and young people passed through the camps of Megali Panagia. These young people were trained in faith to become conscious members of our Church.
Having this strong pastoral experience in Home Mission, we also applied it during our presence in the Missionary field of the Diocese of Bukomba, sent to us by the love of God and the affection of our Patriarch.
In Kasikizi, Bukomba, we created the JOY AND PEACE OF CHRIST Camps, where the children and young people of our Diocese are hosted, mainly in the months of June, July and August. Daily Sacred Services, Bible Study, catechesis, learning church hymns, Divine Liturgy with participation in Holy Communion, fasting and Confession constitute the most important spiritual training of children and young people. Along with the spiritual teaching, they are educated in common life, discipline, cleanliness, respect for others, and many other useful things.
The Orthodox believers are a minority in the populous Tanzania and we do not have our own Schools for the possibility of providing religious education. Our children attend public schools, along with other Muslim, Catholic and Protestant children. Thus, our Camps are an ark, which keeps and saves our children in the Orthodox Faith.
The need for help is great. First we need manpower, such as executives, teachers, students, nurses, theologians, who will come to offer their help voluntarily. Then we need financial support.
We would like to thank wholeheartedly the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity for the support to the Mission of Bukomba and our Camps. May Saint Iakovos bless us and support us all.
† Chrysostomos of Bukoba