Comboni Lay Missionaries

Our wealth are the poor

Mongoumba

Yesterday at the opening Mass of the Pastoral Year I was saying to Christians that the poor are our wealth in the parish and announced that Catherine, Odile and Monique would leave on Monday morning to M’baiki where they shall reside with the Sisters of Teresa of Calcutta.

Catherine, Odile and Monique take over ten years with us. Casually all three are Christian; live in houses of clay in the soil of the parish. None has a family and at the time they were accused of witchcraft, which means death threat, so they found refuge in the parish. They are the “poor of the parish.”

Monique has 95 years according to his letter of baptism, Catherine and Odile exceed eighty. They are very old and deteriorated; we have no strength to continue responding to them with dignity at this moment of insecurity where many, who threw a hand to clean them or prepare something to eat, have fled. They are living in almost inhuman conditions because Monique is paralyzed and blind for years, Odile cannot move and Catherine who was the nurse of the group is with heart problems and cannot fend. Without water, without any hygiene, with nobody to prepare them meal or give them a hand … We decided to move to the sisters of Calcuta where we seek for asylum and they have been accepted Initially faced with uncertainty, they refused saying that they wanted to die in Mongoumba and didn´t want to leave … Then I managed together with Kaos to convince them that it was the best for them … I told them that we will take them, and if they are not happy in one month we will bring them back.

The journey to M’baiki, 90 miles in four hours, has been quite an odyssey. Monique does not stand sitting in the back seat and was lying on top of Catherine, she spend all the journey vomiting. Catherine was scowling and Odile smile every time I asked her if they were going well … it’s probably one of the first times that they have been on the car on a long journey.

Sister Alexandra welcomed us very well when we have reached M’baiki, fully nap time. We have installed our three relics in a room with three beds and foam mattresses, it is the first time they have a mattress. They even have a bathroom with shower and running water in the room… Their somber faces were lit … Monique have been placed on a mattress on the floor to keep her from falling.

We have filled all the forms: name, age, origin, family, diseases, drugs … In the status box sister wrote: “proscribed accused of witchcraft …”. “What if they die? What we do?” I told the sister, knowing how complicated the issue of burying the dead is in this culture, “They have no one I said, they can be bury with no problem, no one will complain …”. Sister asked me to sign as guardian of the three elderly.

Really, we’re going to miss them, but we will remain in touch, they are our treasures, the poor.

Jesus Ruiz (MCCJ in Mongoumba). Pictured accompany the four women, Tere and Elia (CLM).

Contrasts

Liliana FerreiraI am where my heart is and my heart is in this wonderful land full of majestic and magnificent trees, which unfortunately have been taken (stolen) from other countries. In this land, where the sun rises in the sea and goes down over the mountains, where the moon is not a liar and smiles at you when you contemplate it. In this land, where you can breathe clean air, which unfortunately is already also a source of income for many. In this land of wonderful beaches of white sand and clear water that with great sadness cease to be deserted to make way for mega tourism enterprises. In this land of red color, red ground color of blood, shed for many in the fight for independence, blood spilled in the struggle for peace and the blood of those who today are fighting for a better life and demand their rights. Here the land is also a means of survival, the people takes the necessary food to keep them during the year, but it has being usurped by multinationals that come from nowhere and demand their rights on the land without thinking of the consequences on those who have lived there all their life.

Mozambique is beautiful and attractive, full of natural beauty and resources, with friendly and welcoming people. To the outside comes out the idea that it is also a center of employment, but this is only for those coming from outside. Unemployment here is high, young people who strive to finish the 12th grade find closed the doors of the world of work and other times it is offered them the opportunity to work in exchange for a minimum value…

MozambiqueThis reality outlined the discussions of lessons in Civic and Moral Education in the first semester where we discussed the current situation of Mozambique tapping points such as: unequal social distribution, poverty, education and health, corruption, globalization, multinational action, contrasts… important subjects to uninstall the youth, stating the present reality and seeking to strengthen their critical minds so that they can demand justice and a more promising future.

Liliana Ferreira, LMC 

 

The one thing necessary

Open HandsOne of the most difficult parts of this “missionary” life for me has been accepting all that I am missing out on. In my lowest moments, I think about missing my family, my close guy friends (it is so hard to make authentic peer-to-peer friendships here), my god-children, career development, saving for retirement, my familiar culture, and things like this.  It’s taken a few years to come to terms with all that I need to give up in order to be authentic to God’s invitation for me to become more loving, which at this present moment keeps me in Ethiopia.  Now, most days I feel at peace, which is a logical effect of voluntary sacrifice.  But I have learned that the most important effect is an opening of me to others, a widening of my horizons away from myself to the needs of others.  Thomas Merton’s writings, particularly from “No Man is an Island” have been a great inspiration:

“One who is content with what he has, and who accepts the fact that he inevitably misses very much in life, is far better off and more at peace than one who has or experiences much more but who worries about all he may be missing. For we cannot make the best of what we are, if our hearts are always divided between what we are and what we are not.

The relative perfection which we must attain in this life if we are to live as children of God is not the twenty-four-hours-a-day production of perfects acts of virtue, but a life from which practically all the obstacles to God’s love have been removed or overcome.

One of the chief obstacles to this perfection of selfless love is the selfish anxiety to get the most out of everything, to be a brilliant success in our own eyes and in the eyes of other people. We can only rid ourselves of this anxiety by being content to miss something in almost everything we do. We cannot master everything, taste everything, understand everything, visit everywhere, drain every experience to its last dregs. But if we have the courage to let almost everything go, we will probably be able to retain the one thing necessary for us – whatever it may be. If we are too eager for everything, we will almost certainly miss even the one thing we need.

This type of authentic happiness consists in finding out precisely what the “one thing necessary” may be in our lives and in gladly relinquishing all the rest. For then, by a divine paradox, we find that everything else is given us together with the one thing we needed.”

– Mark

Maggie, Mark and Emebet Banga, Comboni Lay Missionaries, Awassa, Ethiopia

Advent 2013: “Let your light shine”.

AdvientoAdvent 2013: “Let your light shine”. This Advent time (1-24 December) we pray as communities united all across the world that the Holy Spirit may inspire us to transform our world; empower us to seek the common good for all persons; and give us a spirit of solidarity making us one with all who suffer injustice and live in want. In attachment we publish the Prayer reflection for Advent 2013 in English (text) and Spanish (texto 1, texto 2, texto 3 y texto 4).

Project KWE ZO ZO (every person is a person)

HEALTHCARE PROGRAM FOR PYGMY POPULATION IN MONGOUMBA

Central African Republic

Comboni Family united for a common cause

Context:

This year, the Comboni family in Portugal will have as central theme of the year the slavery. Therefore, given the circumstances of the countries in which we work as Comboni family, we have joined in support of a project for the Pygmies of Mongoumba – RCA (where we have our CLM Elia Gomes responsible for the health issues).

The village of Mongoumba is located in the equatorial forest in Lobaye, Prefecture of the Central African Republic, and is bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, in the equatorial forest.

The estimated population is 21,235 inhabitants, with over 50% of young people (under 20 years).

Here are around thirty villages located mainly on the banks of the Ubangi and Lobaye rivers. The population is ethnically diverse; the largest ethnic groups are the Mondzombo and Ngbaka, from the Bantu group. There is still a group of Pygmies Aka, according to the latest census carried out by CARITAS, in 2004, the number of people who belong to this ethnic group was 3089, being distributed in more than 80 camps disseminated in the forest.

Despite being pygmies the first inhabitants of this region, they suffer of discrimination from the rest of the population that uses them as cheap labor and excluded from social organizations.

The economic activities belong to the primary sector: coffee, bananas, cassava, hunting, fishing and gathering fruit. In this area existed logging and mining companies exploiting the natural resources causing the disruption of the balance of the ecosystem and destroying the natural habitat of the pygmies.

Introduction:

To support the Pygmy population at health level, the mission -and more specifically the community of Comboni Lay Missionaries (CLM) present there- intended to serve as a bridge between this population and the local public health center, as well as facilitate the access to Pygmies to medicines, nutrition programs, epilepsy, as well as vaccination campaigns and access to safe drinking water (through the construction of wells in the jungle).

The pygmy population fails to go beyond a collaboration of 2% of the total expenditure on health.

Activities:

1. Donation of medicines needed for the Pygmies having a financial contribution from them.

2. Health education for individual and group during the consultations and in the pygmy camps in different topics like vaccination and the disease with greater incidence.

3. Accompaniment, medication and training in cases of epilepsy and malnutrition (very common in this region).

4. Creation of 2 wells in the jungle to meet the drinking water needs.

Budget (in Euros) for the development of the activities (for one year):

Concept

Finance needed

Drug expenses

3 700,00 €

Malnutrition

550,00 €

Epilepsy

630,00 €

Vaccination / sensitization campaigns

150,00 €

Construction of 2 wells

250,00 €

Total

5 280,00 €

This project aims to ensure a minimum level of health for the Pygmies of this region (as these are the poorest of the poor).

Along with these activities, the Catholic Mission of Mongoumba does other activities in both education and in terms of Pastoral ministry. Therefore, this project is only a part of the comprehensive work done in the mission.

From now, the CLM community present in Mongoumba is grateful for the cooperation of everyone and especially the attention paid to the reality of the Pygmies. It is, in fact, in constant collaboration that we can continue the Mission and slowly, together, we believe that we can build a better world, “that many have life and have it abundantly” (Jn 10, 10).

Note: Currently, in this mission is present Elia Gomes, CLM nurse, who takes care of matters concerning to health issues.

The CLM from Portugal are available to provide any additional information, support, and answer for any questions that may arise:

You can download the project brochure KWE ZO ZO here.

You can follow the project in Facebook here.

Susana Vilas Boas: (00351) 960 145 875 susanavilasboas@gmail.com (made ​​part of this community for 5 years).

Sandra Fagundes: (00351) 966 592 658 sandrafagundes@gmail.com (treasurer of the CLM)

Donations can be deposited in the account:

IBAN: PT50 0036 0131 99100030116 60

SWIFT: MPIOPTPL