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  • The Long View of South Sudan

    Solidarity with South Sudan (SSS) || By Bill Firman || 11 May 2017

    the long view of south sudanI returned from home leave a little over a month ago and have just completed trips within South Sudan from Juba to Rumbek, Wau, Yambio and Riimenze, for various meetings. This country is truly in a horrible mess and many people are suffering. As I ponder the situation, however, words from Bishop Kenneth Untener attributed to Blessed Oscar Romero come to mind: ‘It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision…’ It is indeed hard to see the solutions to the many immediate problems facing the people of South Sudan, but some great things are happening that have the potential long term to create a better South Sudan.

    One of the keys is better education. Loreto Secondary Girls’ Boarding School in Rumbek has now grown to have 251 resident students – and last week, seven of their early graduates, qualified to be graduates of the Catholic University in Juba. Four years of secondary school and three at University, a great achievement by these girls in a society where 7% of girls are married before the age of 15 and 42% between 15 and 18. Again, I think of the terrible statistic in South Sudan: ‘A fifteen year old girl has more chance of dying in child birth than of graduating from secondary school’. Thanks to Loreto, and some other schools, this situation is changing. Sadly, the fighting continues and millions are displaced from their homes but a new generation is emerging. Loreto also has more than 600 boys and girls in their primary day school where they are achieving an extraordinary attendance rate, for South Sudan, of 95%. In three years, the primary school has gone from educating under trees to modern classrooms. Loreto is a sign of hope.

    Loreto, however, and our Solidarity Teacher Training College in Yambio, are erecting massive security walls. This is the sad reality. We don’t really want to retreat behind walls but short-term protection is needed. In Yambio, we have in residence a record number of 125 students, from a wide mixture of tribes – potential future leaders of this nation. We are not just building a wall. The large new STTC library is being used extensively and more staff accommodation is under construction. In Wau, there are many displaced people too scared to return to their homes; but our Catholic Health Training Institute has continued to offer three-year residential training programmes producing registered nursing and midwifery graduates. There is a record number of 114 students, 42% of whom are female. This is yet another situation where ethnic diversity is respected and strong friendships are formed that bridge across traditional divides. We are planning to build a further CHTI dormitory so that was can accept more female students. More opportunity for women and girls is critical if we are to build a better South Sudan.

    While walls may be necessary, our greatest protection continues to be the communities that we serve who appreciate what we are doing. In Riimenze we have an extensive, agriculture project. The rebels have passed through several times and the Government forces have also arrived in force; but our Solidarity community, our residence and the huge sustainable agriculture project have been left untouched. Yes, we have had to divert food intended for our STTC to help feed the almost 6,000 displaced people clustered around the Riimenze Church. We have also installed new bore holes for water and distributed tarpaulins and food, but now we are returning our focus to employing people on our farm who enjoy the dignity of earning their own living. I am, indeed, very proud of our Solidarity members who have remained heroically assisting these people in their time of emergency need. We are very grateful for the generous congregations and donor organizations and individuals that have enabled us to offer relief to these people.

    ‘Yes, I live in fear’, one man, I have known for several years, said to me, fear of the rebels and fear of government soldiers. One of our workers brought his young four year-old son, Bill, to greet me again. Bill will begin school next year. We hope and pray for his future and for the millions of young people in South Sudan. The solution in Riimenze could be quite simple. If the opposing armed forces were withdrawn, the people would happily return to their stable, subsistence living. In other situations, such as Malakal, it is far more complex. Malakal is traditionally a predominantly Shilluk town but it is now being populated only by Dinka, a situation manipulated into existence during this conflict. Such a situation is a recipe for instability. In the long view, education, more opportunity for women and well directed outside assistance will create a better South Sudan. It does help to take the long view.

  • Church in Ethiopia Welcomes New CRS Country Representative

    CANAA || By Makeda Yohannes, Addis Ababa || 11 May 2017

    new crs director in ethiopia received 2017The Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat’s (ECS) Secretary General, Father Hagos Hayish, Tuesday, May 8, received in his office and expressed a word of welcome to the newly appointed country representative of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to Ethiopia, Mr. John Shumlansky.

    Mr. Shumlansky will be taking over the position of country representative from Mr. Matt Davis who has been appointed the regional director for CRS Africa.

    During the meeting Fr. Hagos, explained to Mr. Shumlansky the working structure of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia (CBCE), ECS, and the diocesan offices. He also briefed the new country representative on the working relationship between Caritas Ethiopia, partners with offices based in Ethiopia and relevant government offices.

    The Secretary General also lauded the long standing relationship between the local Church and CRS, which he said has benefited countless number of Ethiopians in times of drought and hardship through humanitarian programs.

    “During my 10 years of service as the Secretary General for ECS, I have witnessed that our relationship has been mutually respectful and supporting one another. This very commendable relationship that we have has (borne) fruits not just through short term emergency relief but we can also see sustainable development and change in the lives of the community,” said Fr. Hagos.

    ECS Secretary General also recalled that the Ethiopian Catholic Church Microfinance Institute, Metemamen M.F, which was established with the support of CRS and is currently making good progress toward becoming the first Catholic Bank in the country.

    CRS has rendered a tremendous support to the water and sanitation department, which has currently grown into the ECS Water Works Company plc, owned by the Church as part of her efforts to become financially sustainable.

    Fr. Hagos also explained how CRS supports the local Church with capacity building in the Church’s effort for self-sustainability and expressed his hope for a continued and strengthened relationship with CRS.

    He also briefed Mr. Shumlansky about the upcoming 19th Plenary Assembly of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) to hosted by the Church in Ethiopia in 2018.

    On his part, the outgoing CRS Country representative in Ethiopia, Mr. Matt Davis shared with his successor the areas of partnership with ECS and his experience in Ethiopia.

    Mr. Matt Davis will officially be handing over office to the incoming country representative in August.

    The two CRS personnel also met Mr. Bekele Moges, Executive Director of Ethiopian Catholic Church Social and Development Commission (Caritas Ethiopia) and discussed about ongoing CRS and Caritas Ethiopia projects and partnerships.

    Mr. John Shumlansky will be joining the Ethiopia office from Cambodia where he has been serving as the Deputy Regional Directory for CRS’ East and South Asia Region. 

    From 2009 to 2014, he was the Country Representative of CRS India.

    Ethiopia would not be the first African experience for him as from 2005 to 2009 he was Country Representative for CRS in Lesotho. Prior to that, he worked for CRS in Niger on food security, nutrition, microfinance and education programs.

    CRS has been working in Ethiopia supporting the CBCE in serving the poor and the vulnerable and ensuring integral human development for the people mainly in rural areas for 59 years.

  • Jesuit Researcher Explains Alternative Forms of Land Ownership in South Africa

    The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) || By Matsepane Morare, SJ || 10 May 2017

    land ownership alternatives in south africa 2017Briefing Paper 430

    May 2017

    Alternative Forms of Land Ownership

    1. Introduction

    The history of land dispossession in South Africa has been argued and studied and analysed for years. Land was one of the major issues in the struggle against colonialism and apartheid, and thus also a significant point of contention at the negotiations that gave birth to the Constitution of the country in 1996. This led to what became known as the ‘property clause’ in the Bill of Rights, and has resulted in many arguments and disputes about what the Constitution really says on the question of land dispossession and redress by the state. What is accepted by most people is that land ownership patterns in South Africa are unequal, unjust, and detrimental to the fabric and functioning of society. In addition, land ownership is widely considered as a crucial way of dealing with poverty and social inequality in the country. The question, then, that is assuming ever greater importance and urgency is how to change ownership patterns and to include the previously excluded.

    2. The Property Clause

    The 1993 interim constitution as well as section 25(7) of the 1996 Constitution and the Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994, all dealt with land dispossession. It is often wrongly argued that section 25 of the Constitution not only protects land owners and entrenches their right to land ownership, but also that it is the biggest barrier to land reform and land restitution. The section has also been incorrectly interpreted to mean that land can only be acquired through the ‘willing buyer-willing seller’ principle. However, all that the section says is that no one shall be deprived of their property arbitrarily; whenever land is repossessed or expropriated, as section 25(2) says

    can be done, the process must be procedurally correct and just to everyone. In fact, section 25(7) gives a clear right of ownership to those who lost their land under past unjust laws, and clearly calls for these rights to be redressed. Even if the Constitution was amended to allow for expropriation without compensation, the state would still have to satisfy the constitutional demand that the process must be just and fair to everyone.

    3. Past Policies

    The post-1994 land restitution programme was subject to three important limitations. Firstly, it had a 1913 cut-off date; secondly, the focus was on major community dispossessions that could very easily be historically confirmed; and finally, there was an end point on 31st December 1998, after which claims could not be made. As a result, land taken before 1913, and land taken from smaller groups and/or individuals that had neither the capacity nor the evidence to prove dispossession, could not be restored. In addition, individuals and communities who, for various reasons, had not managed to lodge claims in the four years up to December 1998, were excluded from doing so. To address some of these concerns, in 2014 the process was reopened but it then stalled due to legal challenges in the courts. This has meant that many of those who had no means to reclaim land they had lost, or who were simply prevented from legally owning land in the past, remain landless.

    But what is the state of land ownership at present?

    4. Ownership and Other Forms of Tenure

    Some have made the valid point that it is not necessary for people to own land, but rather that their rights of access be secured.

    There are many different forms of land tenure in South Africa, with direct land ownership being one BP 430: Alternative forms of Land Ownership 2

    of them. Other forms of tenure include communal land (as in community property associations), commonage land, joint ventures, and various forms of leasing or renting.

    ‘Land tenure’ refers to the terms and conditions on which land is held, used and transacted and, as noted, it is a broader concept than just land ownership.

    Its main purpose is to enhance and secure peoples’ land rights, whatever they are. Rules of tenure indicate how property rights are to be allocated within society. This is to ensure that arbitrary depravations and evictions, landlessness, and general property insecurity, are avoided, as well as to ensure that rights holders are able to invest in the land and use it sustainably.

    4.1. Communal land 1

    The communal land tenure policy deals with tenure systems affecting mostly rural land occupied by African communities. It refers not to ownership but to ‘use rights’ enjoyed by communities. ‘Communal property signifies the collective relationship between people and their shared land. The policy seeks to reform communal tenure so as to ensure the security of land rights and production relations for people residing in communal areas by establishing institutionalised use rights, especially for households and other users, which will then be administered either by traditional councils in areas that observe a customary law or communal property outside these counsels.

    Though the values underlying this system are considered a continuation of old forms of traditional land tenure in African communities, the question of who actually owns the land is still a contested one. There is no clear agreement as to whether the land belongs to the state, the tribal councils, the chiefs and other traditional leaders, or to the communities living on the land.

    4.2. Commonage land

    Commonage refers to land owned by a municipality under the Department of Land Affairs’ Municipal Commonage Programme of 1997, where land was availed mainly for use by poor or subsistence farmers to graze livestock and for small-scale allotment farming. Subsistence farmers are thus able to make use of commonage to supplement their income, as well as to provide for household consumption. Commonage was seen as a stepping stone to more commercial forms of farming, but also for giving subsistence farmers access to agricultural land without them actually having to buy or own large pieces of land for their exclusive use.2

    4.3. ‘One Hectare One Household’

    A similar programme is referred to as the ‘One Hectare One Household’ plan, where one hectare of land is allocated to every needy household. The land to be allocated will be acquired by the state and surveyed, and land-use plans will be drawn up, with a title deed issued to each household. Any surplus land that is left over after each household is allocated their one hectare, will be communally owned and designated for collective use. The idea is to then promote the formation of co-operatives linked to agri-parks.3

    4.4. Joint ventures

    There are several collective schemes ranging from ‘Strengthening the Relative Rights of People Working the Land’ (colloquially known as the 50/50 voluntary share scheme), to other ‘Equity Share Schemes’, and ‘Out-grower/contract’ farming.

    These ventures refer to new farmers being given land reform subsidies by government so as to enable them to acquire shares in existing agricultural enterprises. However, this does not include land ownership rights. The idea behind joint ventures is that outside help or investment is needed to sustain agriculture and to improve productivity and livelihoods. Such ventures may be able to offer local communities sustainable development over a period of time.

    These forms of ‘ownership’ have come under criticism mainly because they do not actually include ownership of the land or the farm, but simply provide equity in what is owned by someone else. Thus the relationship between the various partners becomes unequal. Some have argued that the relationship between the mainly white farmers who own the land and the new black farmers who own equity becomes characterised by paternalistic attitudes. Even worse, the new equity partners have no actual say in the running of the farm, and since they have no rights of residence on the land, they can be evicted from it.4

    4.5. Individual ownership

    Individual ownership of land is the most common form of ownership, and most of farming land is often owned individually and handed down through families. This is the form that dominates BP 430: Alternative forms of Land Ownership 3

    1 http://www.customcontested.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/06-AUG-2013-Communal-Land-Tenure-Policy-v2.pdf

    2 http://www.plaas.org.za/sites/default/files/publications-pdf/ELARSA%2005.pdf

    3 http://www.gov.za/speeches/minister-launched-one-household-one-hectare-programme-kenton-sea-eastern-cape-30-oct-2015

    4 Boyce Tom, Researcher at TCOE: Presentation at the CPLO roundtable discussion on “Alternative Forms of Land Ownership”. 15/03/2017, Townhouse Hotel, Cape Town.

    This Briefing Paper, or parts thereof, may be reproduced with acknowledgement.

    For further information, please contact the CPLO Office Administrator.

    the housing market as well, where it is supported by the possession of title deeds and the cadastral system. There has been an attempt to promote this form of ownership even for traditional communal land, arguably to allow for it to be used as bankable collateral, thereby facilitating economic activity with the land as an asset. Those opposing the turning of communal land tenure into individual land ownership point to the complexities of familial and gender conflicts, and the possibility of land being sold off by poor people, leaving them and their families even more destitute.

    4.6. Group ownership

    Other forms of group ownership have been tried, including trusts and Community Property Associations (CPAs). Because these are actual forms of ownership, and not just equity, they have the advantage that everyone’s voice is the same. However, like everything that is collectively owned, consensus is often very difficult to achieve. There have been other problems with these schemes and new legislative amendments are presently before Parliament to deal with some of the challenges.

    Coupled with this form of ownership especially of agricultural land are various programmes to support the previously excluded in the development of the land. These programmes include the Settlement Land Acquisition Grant (SLAG), and Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD). It is noteworthy that government has also come up with systems of tenure where the state owns the land and leases it out to beneficiaries for production, reserving the right to revoke the lease should the beneficiaries fail to deliver in terms of production. The Proactive Land Acquisition System (PLAS) is one such scheme, with the aim of leasing out the land rather than transferring ownership.

    5. Conclusion

    There are several points that are of significance here. The first is that, with commonage and communal land, access does not depend on ownership. This distinction is important because for many people and communities the question of ownership is secondary to the question of access. Thus, it does not necessarily matter for those groups who actually owns the land as long as they have access to it to meet their developmental, economic, and social needs. Accordingly, the question of alternative forms of ownership gets overtaken by alternative forms of tenure, i.e. alternative forms of secure rights of access to land, beyond necessarily owning the land.

    But the question of actual ownership is important for many other reasons. These range from the ability to trade in land because one actually owns it; to the right to decide how land can and should be used because one owns that land; to being able to bequeath land to one’s children or the next generation; to the ability to use the land for any social and economic activity that allows for development; to the power to determine social access by others. But more important in a country with South Africa’s history of dispossession, ownership of the land allows for a healing narrative of liberation and restitutive justice where those who had been previously dispossessed can truly say that the land has been returned to them. And even beyond this narrative, the glaring, racially-defined inequalities that still dictate our spatial geography can begin to be reduced and normalised.

    ______________________________________________________________________________

    Matsepane Morare SJ

    Researcher

    Sondré Bailey

    Research Intern

    Sondré Bailey is master’s student in political science at the

    University of the Western Cape, currently completing a semester

    internship at CPLO.

    Source: SACBC…

  • Justice and Peace Personnel in Ethiopia Encouraged to be Christ-centered

    CANAA || By Makeda Yohannes, Addis Ababa || 11 May 2017

    justice and peace coordinators in ethiopia for validation workshop 2017The diocesan coordinators of Justice and Peace department in Ethiopia have been encouraged to put Jesus Christ at the center of all their activities and to “constantly search for courage and wisdom through the light of Christ.”

    The Secretary General of the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat (ECS), Father Hagos Hayish made the encouragement in Addis Ababa Thursday, May 11 at the workshop organized by the Justice and Peace department of ECS.

    In its efforts for a continued success in finalizing a five-year strategic plan with financial support of Miserior, the department organized a validation workshop in Addis Ababa for diocesan Justice and Peace Coordinators and other stakeholders on May 11, 2017.

    Speaking at the workshop, ECS Secretary General, Fr. Hagos Hayish, called on the coordinators as agents in the Catholic Church’s ministry of peace and reconciliation to reflect more on the words of our Lord in the Gospel of Mark (4: 30 – 34), emphasizing that we sow in the hearts of the people will have an effect on the long term outcome of our work. He added that working in peace building strictly requires putting Christ at the center.

    “Working as agents of Peace and Reconciliation in the Church we must constantly search for courage and wisdom through the light of Christ, we need to pray and strengthen our own faith. It is only this way we can be strong enough to resist being shattered by the winds of the time in our lives. Through the wisdom God grants us, we can recognize the realities of our times and serve the people accordingly. This is what distinguishes us from other social workers,” said Fr. Hagos.

    The department of Justice and Peace at ECS has been an active agent of peace and reconciliation throughout the country, working through Catholic diocesan offices for the last 22 years.

    The department’s active involvement with the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia in peace building is also one of its commendable achievements.

    The Secretary General also stressed on the importance of accountability saying, “we need to learn how to become accountable to those at the bottom of the ladder like Our Lord Jesus Christ taught his disciples to be accountable to (the) least powerful.”

    Fr. Hagos also noted that people working in peace building, reconciliation and justice must constantly update themselves with Church policies and civil laws in the country so that they can provide services to the people from an informed perspective.

    He reminded the justice and peace Coordinators that they are expected to influence and advise Catholic Church decision makers and asked that the Strategic Plan consider a line of communication and advocacy with the Church hierarchy.

    The participants of the workshop stressed the value of taking into consideration gender sensitivity, the current challenges of the youth such as moral degradation and other needs of the people that can be seen by reading the signs of the time.

    The validation workshop is being followed by a two-day training on Catholic Social Teachings and Peace Building for the diocesan Justice and Peace Coordinators and ECS staff.

  • UK Plastic Surgeons to Perform Free Operations at Holy Spirit Hospital in Sierra Leone

    Vatican Radio || 06 May 2017

    uk plastic surgeons in sierra leoneA team of surgeons from the United Kingdom will be performing free reconstructive-plastic surgeries at the Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni in northern Sierra Leone from 8-13 May. A note from the hospital says the operations will target people with “congenital problems (problems from birth)  or acquired problems (injuries from accidents) such as varied burn injuries, post burn contracture, keloid, skin grafting, lipoma,” among others.

    Holy Spirit Hospital is a well-recognised medical facility in the Northern Region of Sierra Leone. Starting initially in 2002 as a small clinic established by the then Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Makeni, Most. Rev. Geroge Biguzzi in collaboration with the Diocese of Albano, Italy. It now has admission wards with close to 100 beds, a theatre, a laboratory and a pharmacy.

    Holy Spirit Hospital offers the population of Makeni and the surrounding district 3 fully qualified and experienced doctors of medicine, backed up by 60 nursing and supporting staff who treat 300 in-patients and 12,000 out-patients per month.

    The hospital welcomes many visitors each year, including many qualified volunteers, who offer mostly free surgeries to patients who could otherwise not afford the care.

    The hospital suffered a disastrous fire at the end of last year. The 3rd November 2016 fire engulfed the Molecular Biology & Immunology Laboratory, Physiotherapy Unit and Drug Store.

    If you wish to help contact the Medical Director - Dr Patrick E Turay

    Address:      Masuba Road, Makeni, Sierra Leone, West Africa

    Email:          info@hsh-makeni.com

    Website:      www.hsh-makeni.com

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Sisters Help Expand Coverage and Care in Model Health System of Rwanda

    Global Sisters Report (GSR) || By Melanie Lidman || 08 May 2017

    sisters in rwanda help expand health care 2017The dense darkness of nighttime in rural northern Rwanda completely obliterates the immense hills that surround the village of Muyanza. But piercing this complete darkness a few times a week are two pinpricks of light, from the headlights of the village's lone ambulance. When someone needs immediate evacuation to the hospital, the ambulance races up out of the valley, bumping over a poorly maintained dirt road. Faustin Musabyimana, the driver, prays that heavy rains haven't washed away the makeshift bridges made of wooden planks laid over deep ravines.

    This ambulance is the strongest link between the isolated villages scattered across the green hills and the government regional hospital on the main road.

    Four Kenyan sisters from the Little Daughters of St. Joseph Congregation run the Muyanza Health Center for the Catholic Diocese of Byomba. Sr. Margaret Ekali Londung'a manages the health center, along with Sr. Margaret Wanjiku Njuguna, a nurse, and Sr. Rose Wanjiru Kimani, a pharmacist, while Sr. Martha Chebon Jeptarus runs a Catholic nursery school. Raising funds to buy the ambulance from their international congregation was one of their first projects when they took over management of the health center in 2001.

    "There are regions [of Rwanda] where there is good communications and fertile areas, and they are easy to reach, and there are also difficult areas," said Londung'a, a nurse who is also the community animator. "Our spirituality as the Little Daughters of St. Joseph is going to the needy, the poorest of the poor, the marginalized. After Mother [Superior Licia Rebonato] visited many places, she chose the hardest, the most difficult, the most marginalized, and that's why we ended up in Muyanza."

    The missionary sisters are providing more than just health care. Seeing them as a rock of support for the community, residents have begun to accept the sisters into the fabric of their lives. Rwanda has made enormous strides to recover from the 1994 genocide, when 800,000 people were killed during 100 days of fighting, plunging the country into chaos and destroying much of its infrastructure.

    In a country that is trying to outrun the shadow of its own history, trust can be the most precious commodity. And trust is something the sisters are slowly nurturing, despite their outsider status, as residents of Muyanza begin to reveal the terrible things they witnessed.

    During the genocide, Hutus, who are generally farmers, massacred the Tutsis, the political elite who make up about 15 percent of the population and control most of the government.

    As a way to move beyond the divisive labels, current President Paul Kagame, a Tutsi who has been in power since 2001, has instigated many reconciliation measures. One of the most visible reconciliation measures is the campaign "I am Rwandan," which attempts to erase public mentions of the tribes of Hutu and Tutsi, building on a law that makes any reference to the ethnic groups illegal, while promoting the idea of a single national identity. But the realities that separate the two groups, both historically and currently, are harder to erase.

    Rwanda has become a "poster child for African development," with 8 percent growth in gross domestic product for the past 15 years. Health care was one of the first places to reap the benefits of this development. The country spends 24 percent of its budget on health care, according to the World Health Organization, and many of the government health policies are effective and successful, like the "1,000 days campaign" to reduce maternal and infant mortality, with the aim of ensuring that every infant makes it to the age of 1,000 days healthy. According to The Guardian and CIA World Factbook, infant mortality rates dropped from 120 deaths per 1,000 births in 1998 to 56 deaths per 1,000 births in 2016.

    But the development has not been uniform across the country. As beautifully paved asphalt roads and electricity lines unspooled across areas with large Tutsi populations in southern and central Rwanda, the Hutu areas in the north were underserved for years.

    Muyanza is located in the northern region of Rwanda, a Hutu-majority area that was traditionally part of the opposition. The treacherous geography, with steeper hills and less arable land than other parts of the country, adds to the political isolation. With challenging agriculture and a lack of government investment, the residents have even less hope of climbing out of poverty.

    Since 1976, different communities of sisters have provided round-the-clock medical care to the  people living in the valley around Muyanza (about 14,000 now), at a health center run by the diocese. Dominican Sisters ran the health center from its opening in 1976 until the genocide in 1994. From 1994 to 2001, it was the Sisters of Vincent.

    Since 2001, a group of missionary sisters from the Little Daughters of St. Joseph calls Muyanza home. Today, four Kenyan sisters from that community live in the verdant green valley surrounded by hills, treating up to 1,800 people per month, providing services such as vaccines, prenatal care and malaria treatment. They also provide regular medication for 302 people in the villages living with HIV/AIDS.

    "We are surrounded by hills, so reaching us can take at least an hour," said Londung'a. Previously, that meant whenever they had an emergency, they had to radio in to the regional hospital to request an ambulance. It would take at least an hour for the ambulance to reach the health center, if there was an ambulance available, and another hour to evacuate the patient, bumping along poor roads and winding up the hillside.

    "If you have a delivering mother, we cannot have her die along the way," said Londung'a. "So the sisters made an initiative — we collaborated with our friends, and now we have an ambulance."

    The ambulance provides an essential link to the outside world, allowing the sisters to get patients to the hospitals more efficiently and to pick up medicines and make deliveries.

    Rwanda has a much-heralded national insurance plan that costs 3,000 Rwandan francs (US$3.60) per person per year, regardless of income or age. But even that amount is out of reach for impoverished farmers, who show up without health insurance or money to pay for treatment. Out of the approximately 60 patients per day, about three to five are unable to pay, said Londung'a.

    "If someone comes to the health center, even if they have no money, you have to protect that life," said Londung'a. "They can also complain [if they feel the service wasn't satisfactory], and you are answerable to the government. This is very positive."

    The sisters' commitment to treating all patients regardless of ability to pay also attracts attention, both among patients, some of whom come from areas beyond Muyanza due to the center's reputation, and from the Health Ministry.

    "Whenever we have a meeting at the district level, our bosses will ask, 'Why does Muyanza have a lot of debt and the other health centers do not?' " said Londung'a. "It's because we are a religious congregation, and we cannot deny these services."

    Londung'a said this scrutiny is very different from Kenya's health system, where she trained to be a nurse.

    "[Rwanda] is a small country, so even the supervision from the central level, they know Muyanza," she explained. "Kenya is a wide country, and before the central government reaches to the grassroots, it takes time. But being a small country, everything is within their reach."

    "We also have meetings with the minister of health; and at the district level, there's a lot of decentralized services," said Londung'a. "There's so much vigilance, monitoring and evaluation. The corruption is not allowed, so you have to deliver. There are no shortcuts."

    The government of Rwanda places a huge emphasis on using technology to alleviate poverty and is integrating technology into community health initiatives through a program called RapidSMS.

    With RapidSMS, the Health Ministry trains three community health workers in every village. In the Muyanza region, there are 25 villages, for a total of 75 health workers who are semi-volunteers, receiving benefits but no paycheck from the government.

    "They are our point of reference, our eyes at the community level," explained Londung'a.

    As the community health workers make the rounds of their village, they send brief updates via text messaging to a central data collection system. Community health workers will let the health center know of expected births or emergent health problems, such as diarrhea outbreaks and suspected malaria cases. The health workers can also do on-spot malaria tests and give medicine immediately if results are positive.

    Muyanza is slowly starting to catch up with the rest of the country. The government has recently begun to implement major infrastructure projects in the region, including the construction of a new mountain road and a large dam that will provide regular water for agriculture and consumption. The dam has brought 2,000 workers to the region, in addition to many jobs for locals.

    Njuguna noted that it hasn't been easy for the missionary sisters, even though they face some of the same challenges in clinics in rural Kenya.

    "Before I came to this country, I thought I would find people who have no communication between themselves because of the genocide," said Njuguna. "I found something different. Although they could not speak openly, and there wasn't a great relationship [between the two ethnic groups] … in other ways they were already healed."

    Londung'a, who has been in Rwanda for four years, said, "It's a long story, and you can't know it until you come and live here in Rwanda, to begin to understand. It's something deep in their hearts. Deep in their lives. They have a story to tell; they have seen a lot."

    A few people have started to open up to the sisters about their experiences during the genocide, but others keep those memories buried deep within themselves, she said.

    In their work at the health clinic, the sisters treat many patients who also have mental health issues, often stemming from the genocide. Those issues are exacerbated during the memorial period from April to July, when the country marks the anniversaries of large massacres with local ceremonies.

    "The stories of what happened are being repeated, and this affects people," said Londung'a.

    Three of the sisters are directly involved in the health clinic, but Jeptarus recognized another pressing need: quality education. She started a nursery school associated with the church to give children a head start when they begin elementary school, though she noted that the continuing public education is also poor.

    "I feel this is the right place where I should be," said Jeptarus. "When I came here, I saw even the place itself is so beautiful. Each and every moment you wake up, you are greeted by the hills. It brings great joy to me, seeing that surely God is present even to those who sometimes are not recognized."

    "From [the media], you may think that the same thing is still happening today [with ethnic tensions] as during the genocide," said Njuguna. "But if you come, you will experience something that is very different from the genocide."

    As missionary sisters, they have found that concentrating on much-needed health and early education services have helped weave themselves into the fabric of the community. Unlike other missionary postings to other countries, where the symbol of acceptance might be invitations to festivals or traditional celebrations, in Rwanda, the highest level of confidence means sharing difficult stories.

    Slowly, the sisters are able to begin shining light into the darkness of the post-genocide pain, cutting through the blackness the same way their ambulance weaves up the nighttime hills.

    "When they accept you, you can listen to their story," said Njuguna. "You are at least able to help them get to the healing which is inside themselves, so that as they heal, they will not project it to the future generations."

    [Melanie Lidman is a freelance journalist in Israel who covers Africa and the Middle East for Global Sisters Report.]

    Source: Global Sisters Report…

  • Catholic Journalists in Malawi Promise to Work for the Church

    Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) || By Prince Henderson, Malawi || 05 May 2017

    malawi catholic journalists to work for church 2017The Association of Catholic Journalists (ACJ) a grouping of professional Catholic Journalists in Malawi last weekend held their first ever Annual General Meeting (AGM) in the Lakeshore district of Salima where a new national executive committee was elected to stir the operations of the organisation in the next three years.

    During the elections, Augustine Mulomole became the new President for the association replacing Deogratias Mmana.

     Others that were elected included Esther Nyanja (Vice President), Grace Kapatuka (Secretary General), Martin Mlelemba (Vice Secretary General), Thomas Psyata (Treasurer General), Bathrenew Boaz (Publicity Secretary) and committee members; Jaqueline Zulu, Anord Namanja, Tereza Ndanga and Moses Kamanga.

    In his acceptance speech as the new President, Mulomole said he along with his committee strive to work for the good of the association and at the same time make it vibrant.

    “We are committed to work for our mother Church through our various skills. We will work with the Episcopal Conference of Malawi and of course seek guidance wherever necessary,” said Mulomole.

    Taking his turn, out-going President, Mmana said he was delighted to hand over the mantle of Presidency for the new executive committee describing it as a team full of experience journalists which take the association to the greater heights.

    Meanwhile, the association’s executive committee has lined up a number of activities for carry out from now.

    In a communique released by the associations General Secretary, Kapatuka, the executive committee plans to meet the national Communications Team in a week beginning 8th May 2017 to brief them on ACJ Action Plan.

    “The executive committee will develop a communications strategy for implementation of the action plan. A budget for the action plan to be developed. All the regional chapters have until end May to hold elections,” reads part of the communique posted on Malawi Catholic Journalists WhatsApp forum.

    The communique further states that registration of members will start immediately after the elections with payment of K5,000 as membership fees hence all the membership fees to be deposited into the ACJ national account

    “Regional Chapters are to be paying subscription fees to the national committee of K5,000 per quarter or K20,000 per year. All regional chapters should be working very closely with Diocesan Communications Secretaries,” said Kapatuka.

    National Social Communications and Research Commission’s Secretary, Fr. Godino Phokoso has pledged his support toward the new executive and the association as a whole.

    Among the objectives of the association include; collecting information for the Catholic church as required by the Episcopal Conference of Malawi and also monitor developments and problems facing the church in evangelization; strengthening ties among Catholic journalists and disseminate information through constant debate and dialogue.

    Source: Episcopal Conference of Malawi…

  • Graduates at Catholic University of South Sudan Urged to Help Others in “their search for a purpose in life”

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 08 May 2017

    bishop hiiboro to cuss graduation 2017The latest group of graduates at the Catholic University of South Sudan (CUSS) has been encouraged to help others in society to live meaningful lives by sowing seeds of peace and development.

    The President of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC), Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro, made the appeal last Saturday, May 6, when he officiated the fifth graduation ceremony at the university’s main campus in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.

    “As graduates of the Catholic University of South Sudan, the number two University in South Sudan and first private university of South Sudan, I hope we can be of help as children of the Catholic University,” Bishop Barani said and added, “To help people, our society, and all of humankind, in their search for a purpose in life.”

    Bishop Barani clarified that the purpose of life is found in going “beyond oneself” in order “to praise God, to revere God, to serve God.”

    He emphasized, “The purpose of the human person is to get out of our confinement, to get out of our shells, to get out of ourselves, to out of our homes, to get out of our individual tribes, to get out of our regions, and to reach out to God in praise, in reverence, and in service of others.”

    The theme of the graduation was: 5th Graduation of the Catholic University of South Sudan Seed of Hope for Peaceful South Sudan.

    “Today’s ceremony is one of the largest the Catholic University of South Sudan graduation ceremonies with about 197 students from all over South Sudan, receiving certificates, diplomas and degrees,” Bishop Barani revealed in his speech, adding, “Nearly 55% of all graduates are females and the vast majority of the medals and prizes recipients are also female.”

    Bishop Barani, who heads the Catholic diocese of Tombura-Yambio, also encouraged the graduates to be ambassadors of peace by helping spread the culture of peace.

    Below is the full speech of Bishop Eduardo Barani Hiirobi at the 5th graduation of the Catholic University of South Sudan.

    Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro's Speech at 2017 Catholic University of South Sudan Graduation Ceremony: May 6, 2017

    Theme: 5th Graduation of the Catholic University of South Sudan Seed of Hope for Peaceful South Sudan

    Acknowledgements and Greetings 

    Honourable Justice Yien Oral Tut, Minister of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology; 

    Government Ministers and State Governors; 

    Excellencies and Members of the Diplomatic Corps; 

    Heads of International and Regional Organisations; 

    Honourable Members of the Legislative Assembly, National and State levels

    Colleagues and Members of Staff; 

    Ladies and Gentlemen.

    Welcome and a very good morning to you all. 

    2. It is a pleasure and privilege for me to officiate this noble and historical function of the Graduation Ceremony. I thank you all for your presence here today to recognize and honour our students on their achievements. 

    Thank you very much once more, Hon. Minister for gracing this special occasion.

    4. Graduation Ceremony

    Today’s ceremony is one of the largest the Catholic University of South Sudan graduation ceremonies with about 197 students from all over South Sudan, receiving certificates, diplomas and degrees: Nearly 55% of all graduates are females and the vast majority of the medals and prizes recipients are also female;

    I would like to thank the Board of Trustees (of the Catholic University of South Sudan), to our teachers, to the families, and especially the parents of the graduates.

    Heartfelt thanks and appreciation go to our Donor and Partners for their enormous and undivided support to the university. They are represented her Mr. Dave Dettoni of the Sudan Relief Fund. Dave thank you for being here this important event.

    I also thank the university staff, from the guards, the cleaning staff, those in the canteen, and those who quietly bring life to the school, but who are rarely seen.

    I’d especially like to thank those graduating. Thank you for inviting me to speak to you this morning.

    Significant vision:

    I am pleased to inform you all especially the Honourable Minister Justice that the Catholic University of South Sudan continues to make significant progress and is reforming and transforming itself with vision, passion and energy into an even higher quality, more relevant and sustainable university. I want to thank you for giving to our University a Provisional License for our University to operate to award degrees. I want to assure you dear Hon. Minister that the Catholic Church is serious and determined to provide an excellent learning institution for our people. Do not doubt us, I promise we shall prove to you in deeds not words in no distant months.

    This year, our student enrolment has increased beyond, which is a recognition of the quality of our programmes and the value that Catholic University of South Sudan delivers;

    The University continues to show improved financial performance, with better than budget performance in 2016;

    We have begun work on Strategic Plan covering 20117-2021 with the theme of transforming Catholic University of South Sudan from a good to an Excellent university.

    ADVICE.

    When I graduated in 1994, 2003 and 2006 respectively, if you ask me what the speakers said that day, I will admit, I don’t remember a thing. But the feelings of such great words such has be learning on, make great choice, be good and be job creator can influence my words to you this morning.

    But all in all, we simply wanted to graduate and face the world. That’s what you want. Perhaps some of you are in a rush to leave the university. Don’t worry; the management and the teachers are in a rush to have you leave.

    Yesterday, I celebrated thanksgiving Holy Mass with you and for you. I shared the words of Christ in which he asked his disciples to follow him and to be peaceful.

    Just some reminders for the graduates. Especially because the world knows that you lived, grew, and finished in a Catholic university, a university headed by the children of South Sudan.

    When I recount my time as a student, and I realize I have remained reading, still teaching...this is the virus of the university at work -- when you enter the system, it so difficult to leave.

    Let me also take this opportunity to remind you graduates that you must continue to learn and better yourself. Success is a journey, not a destination. Receiving your certificates, diplomas, or degrees today does not signal an end but rather the beginning of a long journey—I have often said at graduation ceremonies that it is what you do, and how you do it after graduation that will determine your success in life. 

    Your Purpose and Goal:

    As students of South Sudan and especially way graduating at this time in the South Sudan of now, where the news about HER is or sadness, worries, hopelessness, etc, but is your graduation not a blessings being received? Each blessing has its own obligations and responsibilities. There are many, however, I wish to point your attention to a specific few.

    The first is this: as graduates of the Catholic University of South Sudan, the number two University in South Sudan and first private university of South Sudan, I hope we can be of help as children of the Catholic University. To help people, our society, and all of humankind, in their search for a purpose in life.

    As a church we do not lay out plan for competition in opening centres of learning but our ultimate goal is to contribute in silent manner to the good of humanity and its environment as a command of God. So we are not graduating you to join the groups of South Sudanese who are sowing the seeds of violence, hate, disunity, etc, but to be sowers of peace and development, to be part of sustainable solution.

    Then there are those who say, “I have a goal in life. I have a purpose in life.” When you look at them, what is their purpose? It doesn’t seem true and pure. Why are we here? What is your life’s aim? According to St. Ignatius, man lives for a life of praise.

    Smile, why don’t you? It’s like you don’t offer praise. There. Yesterday I told you that study indicate that the saddest people on the face of the earth are South Sudanese. We look ever sad, our faces show violence and furies. If you deny look to your left or right out of the three of you two look very angrily! Hahaha!

    With other people, their faces seem like they were born to be desperate. But they're not. We are people born to praise God. Not only to praise, but to respect, to despair, to kneel, just like Ignatius. To humble himself before someone greater.

    However, praise and respect comes back to service. "Here is your waiting servant, send me. Where You wish for me to serve, there I will be."

    If we look at that, the purpose of life is to go beyond oneself. If we look at the three keywords -- to praise God, to revere God, to serve God -- the purpose of the human person is to get out of our confinement, to get out of our shells, to get out of ourselves, to out of our homes, to get out of our individual tribes, to get out of our regions, and to reach out to God in praise, in reverence, and in service of others

    And it is only by losing ourselves that we find our true selves.

    Salvation. Life. You graduates, when you are asked, “What is your purpose in life?” and your answer is, “I want to be prosperous.” We have a problem.

    “I want to be famous.” We have a problem.

    “I want to be honourable.” We have a problem

    “I want to be rich.” We have a problem.

    Children of the Catholic University of South Sudan, what is your life’s purpose?

    What is the purpose of your being here?

    And you died to self, you died to your projects, you died to your studies, you died to your opinions and your programs. And you seek only what is God's purpose. By the way when the purpose of man is broken, the purpose of society is broken.

    How many graduates are here? 197. Some might say, what can 197 do to create change for about 11,000,000 South Sudanese who are now confused by fighting each other not over anything or for anything but found themselves in senseless war!

    If your purpose is clear, and it is not directed to self-promotion and self-propagation, then you can really be an asset to bleeding and starving South Sudan and to the world.

    You can smile you know? There you go. (wala khefu?)

    Go back to the purpose of your existence.

    Spreading a culture of Peace

    The second thing I ask of those graduating, and this is part of the root of our lives as people of God, is to be ambassadors of Peace. I do hope the graduates can help in spreading a culture, a culture of Peace.

    It’s saddening to note how easy it is to accept the spreading culture of violence, hate, revenge, disunity, superficiality. Let us become so attractive that it bothers us.

    Now, what is this “Ambassadors of Peace?” You graduates might think, “Oh alright, I’ll show the world how Peaceful I am,” and in your daily lives you speak in a manner that makes it hard to be understood. You employ a very destructive language, hate speech, violent communication over social media. Instead as a graduate from Catholic University you should polish your language to an inclusive and nonviolent communication.

    Let us not confuse others. Culture of peace will help you not to be jobless because there just quite too much to do on behalf of PEACE. Build the culture of Peace my dear graduates everywhere you may go!

    Be God fearing individuals:

    Some of you graduating may be in tears after one lecture. Sometimes, you leave the classroom not in tears, but in anger. Why is it, however, that a simple story about a simple man is just right in its reality? We cited for you at the opening of this ceremony today with mention of two men: Bishop Rudolf Deng Majak and Rev. Fr. Mike Shulthise who devoted their lives enhancing the opening of this university. Those two men believed and knew their Creator, God the Father.

    Because God is the heart, the motion within every person, within every occurrence, within the history of the world.

    A mind and heart with a clear purpose seeks God. Perhaps it can also be said that God wants to be found in the times when we feel our purpose is unclear. In the times when we feel we can’t see Him, perhaps He’s the one searching for you. That is part of faith.

    That profound humility that made the founders of this university, the Bishops of Sudan and South Sudan to open an institution for higher learning like this. In order to bring men and women who will bring about solution to the limitation of South Sudan.

    Please graduates South Sudanese tell stories, listen to stories

    But you have to be attentive to the suffering people of your beloved nation. Even when they do not verbalize their suffering, these people have many ways of communicating their suffering.

    In my experience, especially as a priest, many people come to me carrying their life’s burdens, their problems. Sometimes you’re able to offer solutions, but why is it some people keep coming back?

    Problems can be solved but you cannot solve dilemmas. Dilemmas continue. You can solve problems that you can only make sense of dilemmas. People with problems seek solutions, but people in a situation of dilemma will look for meaning, will look for sense. And that's where compassion enters.

    We can’t solve all the world’s problems. For many people, however, they don’t carry problems, but dilemmas - they are life’s ironies, they are problems that won’t go away because they lack a solution.

    How do we find sense or meaning in the middle of life’s dilemmas. You know what I learned? To problems, give solutions in clear formulae. For those with dilemmas, tell stories - stories of courage. Tell stories of valour, of dignity, of nobility. And they are strengthened to move on. But how can you tell stories if you don't listen to stories?

    Listen to people. Listen to the cries of the little ones - those who are experts because their lives are a never ending dilemma.

    I can see your parents, families, benefactors, friends celebrating you more than you. The law of physics say, the amount of force applied produces the same opposite reaction proportionated to the applied force. The Azande people say Ini vo tiso na giri kuraha (literally meaning, gifts a wrapped back to the donor with same strings). So how much you will put into society is what you will get at the end of the day. You reap what you sow!

    Listening to their stories, and telling the stories to others, we become agents of hope.

    Conclusion

    Please allow me to thank all stakeholders of the Catholic University of South Sudan for their faith in the work that the University is undertaking – with this strong and steadfast support, our tasks have been made easier. I once more express our sincere ‘thank you’ to our Donors and Partners for their valued donations for the sustainability of the University. I wish to especially acknowledge the Support of His Grace Archbishop Lukudu Loro and all his collaborators to this university.

    As you walk across the stage and receive your award, you start at that end as a student, and leave this end as an alumnus.   I invite you to continue your interest in your University, actively participate in alumni activities and stay connected as we all join hands to contribute to the development of South Sudan we call home.

    Make the University proud by being hard-working, innovative and committed.  Be ethical in your future work, lead a life of meaning and impact, and be willing to make a difference.  These should be the inspiring elements of the Catholic University of South Sudan brand of which you will all be ambassadors.

    Your Honourable, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen thank you all once more, a final word to the graduands – Congratulations to you all, and I wish you the very best in the future.  Today you celebrate your achievement; but you also start another journey.  The future is what you make of it and much is expected of you; Make the Catholic University of South Sudan proud by your contributions.

    Graduates as you go forth: Keep your eyes fixed above; be champions in love and remember Jesus leads and we follow. So, walk don’t run. Walk trustingly, lovingly and humbly with your God and you will know great joy at this exciting time in your life and always. God bless you, protect you, and watch over you forever and ever. Amen.

    God bless you all, and God bless South Sudan with Peace!

    Thank you all!

  • Auxiliary Bishop of Durban in South Africa Passes Away

    CANAA || By Fr. Paul Tatu, CSS, SACBC Communications || 04 May 2017

    bishop barry wood of south africa ripRight Reverend Bishop Barry Wood OMI, the Auxiliary Bishop and the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Durban, passed away on Tuesday morning, May 2, after a long illness.

    Bishop Barry was born on the 13th June 1943 in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. As a young man he underwent his initial education under the Dominicans and the Jesuits. When he completed his secondary school he joined the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who nurtured him until he became religious priest in the Catholic Church, later the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Durban.

    After he completed his initial Religious Formation he was accepted to the Order of Priesthood on the 14th July 1965. He was ordained at St Bernadette’s Parish in the diocese of Port Elizabeth by there then Bishop Ernest Green.  

    During his days as a religious priest, Bishop Barry served his Congregation in different portfolios. He was once a Provincial Superior of the Oblates and worked for a long time in the Archdiocese of Durban.

    In 1975 he was sent to further his studies in St Louis University in USA where he specialised in Spiritual Formation. At the end of his studies in 1976 he was appointed to serve in different stages of the formation of the Oblates. He once became a formator in St Joseph’s Theological Institute, which prepares and forms the future religious priests from different congregations.

    Bishop Barry is noted for his outstanding commitment and efficient character in all his responsibilities. His excellent work for the times when he was a formator made him to be a reference point for formation-related issues; therefore remained for many years in the formation team of the Oblates.

    After a long excellent service to his congregation and the local church, in 1998 Bishop Barry went for a sabbatical. Upon coming back his vocational life took a new direction. During the same year he was appointed the Vicar General and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Durban by His Eminence Archbishop Wilfrid Napier OFM. His efficient character and being the simple man of people made him excel in his responsibilities. He worked well with the clergy and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Durban.

    Bishop’s Barry efficient character, love and commitment to his work opened more doors of grace for him. In 2005, on the 10th October, Bishop Barry was appointed Bishop of Barba and Auxiliary Bishop of Durban, and on the 26 February 2006 he was ordained bishop.

    Bishop Barry served the Archdiocese of Durban for 11 years as the Bishop. He is known for his humility and dedication to his work by many. According to Sr Anne Wigley OP, who worked and came across him for many times, describes Bishop Barry as a good shepherd who always encouraged people and by his humility touched the lives many.

    Fr Nkosingiphile Sithole, who was groomed by Bishop Barry, during his seminary and as a young priestsaid, “Bishop Barry was a very sensitive man full of love and he used to love young priests. Always he used to affirm them and encourage them.”

    According to Mrs Thabitha Chipape, who worked closely with Bishop Barry Wood when he was the chairperson of the SACBC Justice and Peace Commission, describes him as a person who was approachable, a father but very straight in his dealings.

    Condolences are conveyed to all who were touched by the life of Bishop Barry Wood OMI. May his soul rest in Peace.

    The Requiem Mass for Bishop Barry Alexander Anthony Wood OMI shall take place on the 13th May, 2017 at Royal Showgrounds in Pietermaritzburg at 10h00, then proceed to St Joseph’s Cedara where he will be laid to rest.

  • Church in Ethiopia Giving Hope to Children with Disabilities

    CANAA || By Makeda Yohannes, Addis Ababa || 04 May 2017

    ethiopian church giving hope to children with disabilitiesThe ministry of healing is entrusted to the Church by the Gospel through Our Lord’s practical example. The Catholic Church in Ethiopia has been faithfully delivering this ministry to the people for more than a century and half now.

    One of the challenges addressed by the Catholic Church is cleft foot among children, which affects not only the body but also the social and psychology of these children.

    Some people in different parts of Ethiopia mainly the rural areas have club foot, cleft lip, limb deformities and other disabilities due to complications during pregnancy or at infant stage; they are subjected to these challenges, bearing the different forms of discrimination and stigma mainly due to traditional beliefs.

    Even though some of these challenges can be treated medically, many children in rural areas do not have access to such treatment and end up living unfulfilled lives.

    Taking this situation into consideration, the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian Fathers) took over from ‘Terre des Hommes’ Netherlands the Alemachin Children Rehabilitation Convalescent Center in Addis Ababa where children with deformities and other disabilities from all over the country come to get the treatment.

    Since its establishment in 1972, the center has been working with different health institutions to provide medical treatment for the children. The center’s fully equipped physiotherapy rooms and playgrounds, learning and recreational sessions, healthy and nutritional diets, very clean environment and dedicated staff combine to make sure the children go back to their families fully cured not just physically but also psychologically and with good manners.

    According to Father Girmay Abraha, C.M., Director of Alemachin, so far 3,569 children with disabilities and deformities have come to the center and 98% who received the service have gone back completely cured.

    He explains that the remaining 2% could not be completely cured due to additional challenges such as nerves and other related problems.

    “At Alemanchin we are dedicated to (providing) our children a holistic care; we want them to feel at home so we all give them not just physical care but also love. The children with club foot, cleft lip and other deformities and disabilities need to know that they are not different from other children and deserve a bright future just like any other healthy children. We teach them how to treat others with care and respect and we make sure they become eager to learn and work for a well learnt and successful future,” Father Girmay explained.

    Emphasizing the center’s priority for quality service, he said, “We never compromise on the quality of our services; even when funds are low we always strive to maintain the standard of our care for the children for as long as it takes to fully heal them, that is why our rate of success has never changed.”

    Father Girmay also noted that the service for the children does not stop with the treatment. The personnel at the center make sure that the children are integrated back to their family and community.

    He further said that the most important task is the final stage, which consists of making sure the children go back to their home to enjoy a normal childhood with the care and love of their families.

    He also clarified that Alemachin works not just with the children but also on the attitudes of their families as this is very important for a sustainable holistic healing of the children.

    The cooperation of families is also very important since the children might need to come back to Alemachin for follow up treatments even after they are healed and have gone back home.

    He witnessed to the fact that the children are very happy at Alemachin, they treat each other with kindness and that they are all eager to go back home healed. “Volunteers share with them different games and give them advice on various life issues. As children from different parts of the country, they are also experiencing the Ethiopian culture of offering love of friendship and living together in harmony with people of different backgrounds,” he explained.

    Merima is a 6 years old girl who came to Alemachin from the predominantly pastoralist and Muslim dominated area of Afar Regional State. When she arrived at the center she had club foot and was subjected to living with fear and discrimination thinking that she was destined to live with an abnormality for the rest of her live. Now with the treatment and constant follow up she got at the center she is ready to go back home with healed feet. She can run, play, walk to school and just enjoy a normal childhood.

    Tariku Adinew Maru was also living with a club foot for so many years before he came to Alemachin from the rural part of Gonder in Northern part of Ethiopia. After receiving treatment, he went back to his family totally recovered. Now he is back to the center for a follow up treatment. “Everyone at my community was astonished when they saw my feet, they had thought it was incurable and I would be doomed to live like that forever. In fact, when I first came to Alemachin my family did not believe whole heartedly that the end result would be like this, they just thought it would not hurt to try,” said Tariku excitedly. He continued to explain that even his neighbor and friend the 11 years old Adinew who has the same problem as Tariku insisted on following him to Addis Ababa and ask Alemachin for the treatment.

    According to Adinew, when he saw his friend come back home with a normal foot he was filled with hope so insisted that his parents bring him to Alemachin and give the opportunity to run like his other friend. “I knew Tariku before he had foot just like mine. He had been away from home for a while and when I saw him again he had come with normal foot like all the other healthy children, I instantly decided I want the same opportunity so I asked my parent to contact Alemachin,” explains Adnew how he arrived at the center.

    Abush Tadesse is another child who is currently at Alemachin following up treatment for club foot. He is studying in grade 5 and after witnessing the importance of the healing ministry in his own life is aspiring to become a doctor himself. “A neighbor of mine who knew about the services of Alemachin brought me here after talking to my parents, as you can see my foot is almost normal now but you would not believe your eyes if you had seen me before. I just thank God and the Catholic Church for this opportunity and for the love and care they give us here every day. After seeing the difference such a care can make in a person’s life I now dream to become a doctor myself. I will work hard in school to achieve this and I will be a dedicated surgeon,” the excited young Abush said.

    The center works with different Parishes, Catholic Health institutions, Catholic schools, Religious Congregations and other Catholic institutions as well as other organizations and communities to identify children who need the services.

    Alemachin is constantly changing the lives of many physically disabled and deformed children and yet many more children need similar services. That is why the staff and the children at Alemachin call on partners and volunteers to collaborate with the center in continuing to witness the healing ministry.

  • New Bishop for Gokwe Diocese in Zimbabwe Ordained

    CANAA || By Br. Alfonce Kugwa, Zimbabwe || 04 May 2017

    gokwe bishop ordained in zimbabwe 2017Thousands of people from Zimbabwe’s eight dioceses thronged St. Paul primary school grounds in Gokwe, Saturday, April 29, to witness the Episcopal ordination of the diocese’s new shepherd Bishop Rudolf Nyandoro.

    The day was memorable for the country’s Catholics who came in droves to show solidarity with Gokwe Diocese and the entire church in celebrating Bishop Nyandoro’s ascend to the college of bishops.

    Song and dance characterized the event as the President of Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC), Bishop Michael Bhasera consecrated the new shepherd in the company of the Papal representative to Zimbabwe, Archbishop Marek Zalewski and fellow bishops.

    Bishop Nyandoro succeeds Bishop Emeritus Angel Floro who has been at the helm of the diocese for seventeen years.

    Bishop Nyandoro who hails from Masvingo Diocese in the southern part of the country was appointed to lead the diocese by Pope Francis on 28 January 2017.

    The message on his banner, “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will”, confirmed his willingness to serve as a bishop.

    In his sermon, Fr. Mupandasekwa said the role of a bishop is to lead and guide the people of God. He encouraged Bishop Nyandoro to draw his strength and inspiration from God who set him apart for this special mission.

    “It is important for you Bishop Nyandoro to listen to the will of God and he will provide for the needs of the diocese. The fact that Gokwe diocese is rural does not matter for God has blessed it with human and natural resources good enough to sustain its needs,” Said Fr. Mupandasekwa.

    Fr. Mupandasekwa also encouraged Bishop Nyandoro to sanctify, to govern and to love the people of God.

    “By this you will be able to accommodate different personalities and characters. Episcopate is the name for service and as a bishop, you should have the attitude of love like Christ who washed the feet of his disciples. You should give sight to the blind and set prisoners free,” Fr. Mupandasekwa said.

    Bishop Emeritus, Angel Floro said he was happy to hand over the administration of the diocese to new blood emphasizing that it was time to write a new chapter for the diocese of Gokwe that has grown in faith and infrastructure with thirty diocesan priests, different religious congregations and a blossoming number of practicing Catholics.

    Bishop Nyandoro encouraged the diocese to unite in prayer and to work together for the success of the mission of Christ.

    He said like fish, he will draw his strength from his service to God and humanity.

    The 49-year-old Bishop Nyandoro becomes the third Bishop to lead Gokwe Diocese after Bishop Michael Dixon Bhasera who is now the Bishop of Masvingo and Bishop Emeritus Angel Floro.

  • Egypt is a Beacon of Hope and Refuge, Pope Says at Audience

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Junno Arocho Esteves || 03 May 2017

    egypt a beacon of hope for churchJust as it had been for centuries, Egypt can be a sign of hope for those who long for peace, Pope Francis said.

    During his weekly general audience May 3, the pope reflected on his recent visit to Egypt and said that because of its religious and cultural heritage as well as its role in the Middle East, Egypt has the task of promoting a lasting peace that "rests not on the law of force but on the force of law."

    "For us, Egypt has been a sign of hope, refuge and help. When that part of the world suffered famine, Jacob and his sons went there. Then when Jesus was persecuted, he went there," he said. " Egypt, for us, is that sign of hope both in history and for today, this brotherhood."

    The pope's April 28-29 visit to Cairo began with a gathering organized by Egypt's al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam's highest institute of learning.

    The visit to the university, he said, had the twofold purpose of promoting Christian-Muslim dialogue and promoting peace in the world.

    Peace between Christians and Muslims in Egypt, he said, is a sign of the country's identity "as a land of civilization and a land of covenant."

    "For all of humanity, Egypt is synonymous with ancient civilization, treasures of art and of knowledge, of a humanism that has, as an integral part, a religious dimension -- the relationship with God," he said.

    Christians in Egypt, the pope continued, play a pivotal role in contributing to peace in the country and are "called to be a leaven of brotherhood," but that is possible only if Christians themselves are united in Christ.

    The historic agreement signed by Pope Francis and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II ending a longtime disagreement between the churches over the sacrament of baptism "renews the commitment" to peace and is "a strong sign of communion," he said.

    "Together we prayed for the martyrs of the recent attacks that tragically struck that venerable church," Pope Francis said. "Their blood made fruitful that ecumenical encounter, which included Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, my dear brother."

    Talking about his Mass with the country's Catholic community and his meeting with the country's priests and religious men and women, Pope Francis said he encounter a "community of men and women who have chosen to give their lives to Christ for the kingdom of God."

    "I have seen the beauty of the church in Egypt," he said, "and I prayed for all Christians in the Middle East so that, guided by their pastors and accompanied by consecrated men and women, they may be salt and light in that land."

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