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Emergency Aid

 

ACN Project of the Week – Post flooding, Malawi receives help from ACN

09.10.2019 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Emergency Aid, Malawi

Malawi

 

Mission accomplished! Emergency aid following severe flooding

 

In March 2019 many areas of southern Malawi– a country located on the border between southern Africa and East Africa— were struck by torrential rainfall which continued for days on end resulting in devastating floods  which affected close to 1 million inhabitants in 16 of the 28 districts of the country.

 

 

The toll it took: Close to 80,000 people lost their homes, over 500 people were injured and some 60 lost their lives. Adding to the devastation, houses, fields, roads and bridges were also damaged or destroyed

Malawi, already has its share of difficulties as it is already one of the poorest nations in the world. And,  according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as reported in Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)  Religious Freedom Report “thousands of refugees have come to Malawi from Mozambique in recent years, fleeing fighting between the Mozambican government and rebels. The provision of care for refugees also presents a challenge for Malawi’s Churches and religious communities in social as well as pastoral terms. Experience shows that religious tensions often worsen when different faith groups live in close proximity in extreme poverty.”

Where we came in

Despite the reality in the country, the Catholic Church was on the ground immediately, ready with spiritual and moral support. But given the circumstances there was also a very real need for food, clothing, blankets and temporary shelters. Every day articles like cooking utensils and water purification systems to prevent the spread of diseases were also needed at a minimum.

 

ACN also responded immediately. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to provide $30,000 in emergency aid. Our heartfelt thanks to all of you who contributed and prayed for the relief effort in Malawi!

 

 

ACN Feature Story: Good Samaritans of the Valley of the Christians in Syria

08.06.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN NEWS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Josué Villalón, Emergency Aid, Middle East, Syria, Valley of the Christians

Syria

Good Samaritans of the Valley of the Christians in Syria

Mzeina Hospital is situated in the small town of the same name, one of several that make up the Valley of the Christians (Wadi Al-Nasara in Arabic), a rural region of Syria, close to the frontier with Lebanon and roughly halfway between the city of Homs and the Mediterranean coast. “The hospital has been open for four years now and for the past two years the number of admitions, operations and basic treatments has been growing steadily” the hospital director, Dr Sam Abboud, assures us.

Sacred Heart next to a poster of Mzeina Hospital, in the Valley of Christians, Syria

The war which continues to tear this country apart seems a long way from this region, yet the doctors and their co-workers at the hospital assure us that the situation is still as bad as or worse than before. “People come to us asking for help and tell us that in other hospitals they couldn’t get treatment because they did not have enough money. We don’t simply tell them to go away; we try to help them in every way we can,” says Toni Tannous, the head of the physiotherapy team.

 

Part of the staff of Mzeina Hospital. Tannous, in the middle, is the Head of Staff.

The doctors themselves and the other employees at the hospital have themselves had personal experience of the consequences of the war. “I myself had to flee from Homs because of the war,” Toni continues, “and now I am working here. All of us feel a sense of responsibility in one way or another to help in whatever way we can.” This hospital, which treats thousands of people every month and has almost 500 inpatients, works in collaboration with the Saint Peter’s Aid Centre run by the Melkite Catholic Church in the nearby town of Marmarita.

 

“From the health centre run by the Melkite Church in Marmarita we attend to over a hundred urgent medical cases a month, in addition to other cases where we pay for medicines. We take the families to the hospital and have a working agreement with the Mzeina Hospital to treat them there,” explains Elías Jahloum, a volunteer and coordinator of the Saint Peter’s Aid Centre. “In the Valley of the Christians there are no public hospitals; the closest ones are in Homs or Tartus, an hour or more away by car on account of the Army security controls. That is why the healthcare service offered by the Church in this region is greatly appreciated by those displaced by the war, who have few financial means.”

 

Valley of the Christans from Marmarita

At the very core of suffering, praying for benefactors all over the world

Elías accompanied a delegation from the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), who visited some of the inpatients in the Mzeina Hospital. Their care is paid for by the Saint Peter’s aid centre with the financial support of ACN. “Thank you for coming to see us, Elias, and thanks also to your benefactors,” said Najwa Arabi, a middle-aged mother of a family who had just undergone surgery on her stomach. “We know that there are people in many countries around the world who are helping us. Every day we pray for them and give thanks to God,” she added.

 

Najwa Arabi in Mzeina Hospital with her family

On the next ward is Maryam Hourani, the mother of Janadios, a little boy barely more than a year old who is recovering from bronchiolitis. “He was very ill and could hardly breathe when we brought him to the hospital,” she explains.

“We contacted Elias and he assured us that the Saint Peter’s Centre would pay his costs. I can only say thank you.” Equally grateful is a young woman by the name of Shasha Khoury, who is recovering from surgery for a breast tumour. “I’m five months pregnant,” she says. “It is a boy and he’s going to be called Fayez, which means ‘winner,” she smiles.

 

Dr Abboud, who is an ear nose and throat specialist, explains that some of the operations they perform are free and that they have a special program for children and young people with hearing problems. “Many of these cases are caused by bombs and other explosions during the war,” he explains, adding that the biggest difficulties they face are the lack of infrastructure, obtaining new medical equipment with which they can operate better, and the constant power cuts. “Although in this last year we have managed to obtain medicines which until recently it was impossible to find in Syria,” he concedes.

 

Entrance of the Mzeina Hospital. From right to left: Dr. Sam Abboud, hospital’s director; Majd Jhaloum, from Saint Peter Center; Toni Tannous, Head of staff; Josef Moussarad, accountant of the Hospital and Elias Jahloum, head of the San Peter Center

As we leave the hospital, Elías and Toni say goodbye with a big hug. Both men are very heavy built and look almost like brothers. “Whenever a difficult case crops up in the hospital, with a patient who has very little money, we always try to help by giving a discount and extending the payment period. When such cases occur, we call the Saint Peter’s centre, knowing that Elias there or Father Walid, the parish priest of Saint Peter’s Church, will always respond to our requests,” Toni tells us. The presence of the Church and its work on behalf of the displaced by the war and the local poor is quite literally saving many lives.

 

The pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need sends around $75,000 each month to the Saint Peter’s Aid Centre in Marmarita, a large part of which is to cover the cost of essential medicines and the medical care of over 4,000 individuals. “We continue to need your aid. You are the hope of all these people, and a wonderful example for our society,” says Dr Abboud, as he bids us farewell.

 


 

Central Africa Tuesday’s attack: The number of deaths increase

04.05.2018 in ACN France, ACN International, ACN PRESS, Africa, Africa, Central African Republic, Central African Republic (CAR), Emergency Aid, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Julie Bourbeau

Photo: Father Albert Toungoumalé-Baba

Central Africa Tuesday’s attack:

Number of dead increased

The attack on the parish of Our Lady of Fatima in Bangui, the capital of Central Africa, on Tuesday, May 1, reportedly killed more than 20 people, including Father Albert Toungoumalé-Baba. Initially, it was already known that 15 parishioners and Father Albert had been killed. Father Albert, who we met during an ACN delegation (it says AED) trip to Central African Republic , asked us for our continual prayers for peace in his country.

 

On May 1st, violence broke out once more in the Central African Republic. In the capital of Bangui, a group of armed men attacked the parish church of Our Lady of Fatima. Sixteen people were killed during the attack, including Father Albert Toungoumalé-Baba, and around one hundred people were injured. The fighting continued in the afternoon, costing two more Central Africans their lives and resulting in a fire that burned down a mosque.

Central African Republic, November/December 2015: Father Albert Tongoumalé-Baba, St Joseph Mukasa parish priest (on the left) with HE Mons Nzapalainga.

The archbishop of Bangui, Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga, rushed to return to the Central African Republic today to make a statement about the attack. The people are still suffering from the aftermath of years of conflict and are now afraid that this will bring about another bout of violence.

In a statement released by MINUSCA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic) on May 1st, the member states of the G5 (United Nations, African Union, Economic Community of Central African States, European Union, France and the United States) condemned “without reservation the attacks on the Church of Our Lady of Fatima and the mosque of Lakounga,” pointing out that “the manipulation of religion to serve the interests of criminal groups is not acceptable.” They called upon Central Africans to “resist this manipulation, the goal of which is to drive the country back into the trap of violence and vengeance.”

 

Honouring Father Albert, “a man of peace”

ACN would like to honour the life’s work of Father Albert Toungoumalé-Baba, the priest of the St. Joseph Mukasa parish in Bangui. Father Albert worked tirelessly for peace in his country and gave shelter to thousands of refugees in his parish. In a short video from an interview ACN held with him in 2016, he says, “Our country has been a country bruised, in distress, since December 2012. Weapons have not yet managed to stop the war, but continue to be heard. … No one has been able to bring peace back to the country. Pray, pray unceasingly for us, as Jesus taught us. Do not despair. May this message be heard by all who love peace.”

Text and Informations: ACN-France

 

EMERGENCY AID:
Aid to the Church in Need will give over 37,000 dollars for the victims of Tuesday’s attack.
Thank you for donating by clicking the button below.
Thank you!

 


 

ACN’s Project of the Week – Lebanon – To help more than the body

11.04.2018 in ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Aid to refugees, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, Emergency Aid, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Lebanon, Middle East, Refugees, Syria

ACN’s Project of the Week – Lebanon

To help more than the body

For many people in Lebanon one hot meal a day is by no means something to be taken for granted. In the town of Zaleh the poverty is particularly acute. The town is not far from the Syrian border, and as a result many refugees have ended up here, having left all their possessions behind in Syria. And even among the local Lebanese population there are many needy people, especially among the elderly and the children whom nobody seems to be caring for.

 

This was the reason why the Melkite Greek Catholic Church decided to set up the St. John the Merciful Table in 2015 to help these people, among other things by providing a regular hot meal, or “food table”. It is named after the seventh century Saint John the Merciful – and not by chance, since St. John was renowned for his exceptional love for the poor. Wherever he saw need, he worked with all his energies and all his resources to alleviate it. When he finally became Patriarch of Alexandria he was feeding some 7,900 poor people on a daily basis. He died around the year 619 and is revered as a saint both by Catholics and by Orthodox Christians.

Zahle, Lebanon, Syrian refugees: “All of us feel the love of Jesus, our Saviour in this way. It is a sign of his love for us all, one that helps to heal every wound”, says one of the women helpers.

Today the outreach ministry provides around a thousand people with a hot meal each day, an increase of 400 people compared to the previous year. Many Syrian refugees are also involved, helping in the kitchens, so that they can also have the opportunity to earn a living. There is a dietary assistant from a Catholic hospital in the town who helps to ensure that the food is nutritionally well-balanced and healthy.

 

But of course, it is not merely about food for the body but also about communicating the love of God and human warmth and affection to those in need. Many are quite alone. The St. John the Merciful table has become a place for them to gather, not only to eat, but also to talk with other people, share their warmth and a smile and a sympathetic ear to listen to their concerns. Prayers are said before every meal and a hymn is sung, underlining the fact that this is above all about the care of souls. It is important for everyone to experience this spiritual dimension. “All of us feel the love of Jesus, our Saviour in this way. It is a sign of his love for us all, one that helps to heal every wound”, says one of the women helpers.

For the elderly and sick, who cannot get out of their homes, the food is brought to them by volunteers.


Aid to the Church in Need has been supporting this project ever since it began. This year we will be giving 1,178,000 for the coming year.

 

If you want to give for this project or one similar,
click on the button below

Thank you!

 

St. John the Merciful Table: more than food, but a place where spiritual life can also be feed.                                                                                                                                                                


 

ACN Interview – Emergency Aid for Cameroon

03.11.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, AFRIQUE, By Eva-Maria Kolmann, Cameroon, Emergency Aid

Cameroon

Terrorism and a forgotten Africa

Time and again, the northern part of Cameroon has become the scene of suicide attacks by Boko Haram terrorists.

 

The people in Maroua-Mokolo are afraid. Time and again, the dioceses located along the border to Nigeria have become the scene of attacks by Boko Haram. When Bishop Bruno Ateba Edo celebrates Holy Mass under a tree, the faithful often hold each other by the hand to form a human chain. The reason: to keep suicide bombers from mingling unnoticed among those in prayer.

 

Before Mass, volunteers check those attending services for weapons and explosives. It is forbidden to carry large handbags. “Many of the suicide attacks are carried out by very young people. Only one month ago, two young girls blew themselves up on the market of Mora. They were not even twenty years old,” the bishop told the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). “The people live in constant fear of attacks. It has already become a psychosis.”

CAMEROON / MAROUA-MOKOLO 15/00094 Construction d'un hangar comme lieu de prière pour les 5.000 catholiques nigérians réfugiés dans le diocèse de Maroua-Mokolo

The danger is especially great at larger gatherings of people. However, the Catholic faithful are not letting this stop them from gathering to pray. “Prayer is our strength and our hope. We need prayer! We want to pray! Especially prayer in community is a sign of hope,” said Bishop Ateba.

When this past February two suicide bombers killed at least 20 people and injured dozens on the market in the village of Mémé, prayer even saved people. “At the time of the attack, many market women and other people from the village had just gone into the church to take part in the Stations of the Cross. They say, ‘We are still alive because we were in church. We would have died without the Stations of the Cross.’”

CAMEROON / MAROUA-MOKOLO 15/00094 Construction d'un hangar comme lieu de prière pour les 5.000 catholiques nigérians réfugiés dans le diocèse de Maroua-Mokolo

 

‘…only Africans…’

Bishop Ateba is disappointed that the dramatic situation in his diocese hardly ever receives attention from international media. “I would like to see greater attention being paid to that which is happening here in northern Cameroon. When something happens in Europe, the news immediately spreads around the entire world. It is like an earthquake. But if people die here in Cameroon or in other African countries, it is not a big issue. Some people probably think that the victims were ‘only Africans’. And yet, today it is also often said that the world is a village. The media should exert more pressure. They have power and strength. I would like to say to the media, ‘Take a close look, no matter where something bad has happened, and report on it!’”

 

In addition to the tensions caused by terrorist attacks, a humanitarian problem also looms. Almost 80,000 refugees from Nigeria are living in a huge refugee camp in the Diocese of Maroua-Mokolo. “Many of the people would like to return to their homelands, but they need safety and prospects! Many have already been there for four or five years and cannot go home,” Bishop Ateba explained. The Catholic refugees are receiving pastoral care from a Nigerian priest who speaks their language. Aid to the Church in Need gave 21,750 CAN to help build a chapel, which the bishop is very grateful for as he tells us: “Almost 5,000 Catholics are living in this camp. Two Holy Masses are being celebrated there every Sunday. Having a place of prayer sets an important sign. Thank you for helping us!”

Cameroon 4 ACN-20150408-22670 (1)

 

In addition to the Nigerian refugees, there are also over 50,000 Cameroonians from villages situated directly at the border who have fled because the situation there is particularly dangerous. Most of them have found shelter with friends, acquaintances or relatives. They are only being supported by the Catholic church. For this reason, Aid to the Church in Need provided 109,500 euros in emergency relief last year to meet the needs of those who have become homeless. The bishop himself is also poor. He lives in a small room without a bathroom. He does not even have an episcopal church. His riches are the people in his diocese.

 

However, what makes him very happy is that there is no dearth of vocations. Thirty young men from the Diocese of Maroua-Mokolo are currently preparing for the priesthood. This year, Bishop Ateba has already ordained two to the priesthood, and on All Saints’ Day he will ordain three young students to the transitional diaconate.

 

Despite it all: a ‘wonderful dialogue’

And Bishop Atebe had even more welcome news to report: he is very pleased about the “wonderful dialogue” that has opened up with Muslims, despite the problems with Boko Haram. Many Muslim children –the sons and daughters of religious leaders included – are attending Catholic schools. “The average Muslim is also against Boko Haram,” he said.

 

Each day after Holy Mass, the Catholic faithful pray that God will grant them peace. The situation has already improved a little, because Boko Haram is not carrying out as many armed military attacks in the region as before. The terrorist organization has been weakened by the joint military campaigns of troops from Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad. “However, the hope of the people is primarily rooted in their belief in God,” the bishop repeatedly emphasised. “We trust in prayer. Prayer is our strength. We pray because we need peace. And, despite the attacks, we will not stop gathering and asking God for this peace together!”

 

Aid to the Church in Need spends approximately 2.9 million CAN on aid for Cameroon each year.

 

 

By Eva-Maria Kolmann, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin

 


 

PRESS RELEASE – Syria – In emergency mode, more than ever

30.08.2016 in Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to refugees, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, Emergency Aid, Julie Bourbeau, Middle East, Syria

Syria

In emergency mode, more than ever

 

Montréal/Königstein, August 30, 2016 – Aid to the Church in Need announces that it wishes to continue providing emergency aid in Syria and counts on raising over 2 million dollars in order to do so. This amount must serve to continue the already existing support programs, as well as adding others, so that the Local Church can continue to help the most underprivileged displaced and refugee families of many of Syria’s villages and towns, including Tartus and Damascus. Special attention will be given to the city of Aleppo.    

 

Presently, the citizens of what used to be Syria’s economic and industrial heartland are suffocating, victims of the battles opposing the government army – which controls the western part of the town – and rebel groups which run the eastern part of the city, and thus control the water and power supplies.

 

Paradoxically, while the number of Christians in the conflict zone has decreased once again over the last few months, the number of families needing subsistence aid has increased rapidly. The support provided over the next few months includes a milk and diaper supply for about 650 babies and toddlers aged 2 and under in Tartus and in other parts of the Latakia diocese.

 

Thanks to the generosity of many benefactors, the international charity organization was able to help about two hundred babies at the beginning of the year. Our partners wrote, “You have been the visible image of the invisible God.” “Your aid always raises the morale of the desperate families, who otherwise might have the impression that a baby is a burden instead of feeling happiness and joy.”

 

Aid to the Church in Need would also like to extend its support to the uprooted families of Aleppo, Hama and Idlib, who are homeless due to violent clashes. Most have been settled in Tartus and Latakia; they now need help to pay for housing. Only a few months ago, about a hundred families benefited from support. To date, 2,817 have received emergency aid, thanks to the benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need.

Supporting families of refugees and displaced is a priority for the Church in Syria.

Supporting families of refugees and displaced is a priority for the Church in Syria.

 

 

Providing dignity

According to recent numbers of the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), more than three out of four Syrians live in extreme poverty and cannot afford basic products and food supplies that are indispensable to their subsistence: the price of fuel more than doubled over the last 18 months; that of wheat flour increased by about 300% and rice by about 650%, compared to the price before the war began.

 

Our emergency aid coordinators wrote: “Thanks to your help, we can stay next to our people and help them, which lightens their burden. We continue to work as a team and, with your support, are trying to stay in contact with an ever-increasing number of families and, as much as possible, provide them with what they need to live in dignity. We must support them in their daily lives, particularly those who have children, and also seniors, as they are the most vulnerable. Life has become very expensive and very hard. Our families struggle against fear and worry about the future. The question that people are constantly asking themselves is whether to stay or not, and what will ultimately become of us.”

 

Our coordinators of emergency aid wrote:

“Thanks to your help, we can stay next to our people and help them, which lightens their burden. 

We continue to work as a team and, with your support, are trying to stay in contact with an ever-increasing number of families and,
as much as possible, provide them with what they need to live in dignity.

We must support them in their daily lives, particularly those who have children, and also seniors,
as they are the most vulnerable. Life has become very expensive and very hard.

This mother and her child were helped last winter thanks the Aid to the Church in Need's benefactors.

This mother and her child were helped last winter thanks to Aid to the Church in Need’s benefactors.

 

Our families struggle against fear and worry about the future.
The question that people are constantly asking themselves is whether to stay or not, and what will ultimately become of us.”

To continue supporting the emergency support programs in Syria,
Aid to the Church in Need, along with its partners,
is calling upon the generosity of its benefactors and that of all those touched by the Syrian conflict.
Since March 2011, the pontifical charity organization has given close to 19 million dollars to refugees and the displaced in Syria.
Thank you for your generosity!
 

 

To give in Canada

Aid to the Church in Need
P.O. Box 670, Stn H
Montreal, QC H3G 2M6

Ontario ACN Sub-Office
P.O. Box 40009, RPO Marlee,
Toronto ON M6B 4K4

Or here :

donate

 

 

 

 

By Mario Bard, Aid to the Church in Need Canada

Translation, Julie Bourbeau

Adaptation, Amanda Bridget Griffin


 

Special edition of Journey with ACN – Ecuador

13.05.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Ecuador, Emergency Aid

Ecuador 2Earthquake in Ecuador

No hands and no means to rebuild

In the small Ecuadorian village of Canoa hardly any houses are left standing following the earthquake on 16 April. This quiet fishing village with its wonderful seascape, colourful houses and small population now looks like a battlefield. Three Franciscan Sisters from Canoa are the only representatives of the Church in the region. The earthquake destroyed their church. “We have no hands, no means to rebuild the country,” said Father Walter Coronel, “we ask for help so that we may stand tall again.” Aid to the Church in Need heard their distress and visited the places most severely affected by the earthquake in order to plan various aid projects.

 

The “Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians” live here and have been a pillar of strength for life in the village as the only Church representatives in a radius of several kilometres. The priest only comes to the village on Sundays to celebrate Mass, meaning the sisters must provide pastoral care for the people. They do it all from celebrating weddings and baptisms to the other sacraments.

The pontifical pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need visited Canoa to plan various aid reconstruction projects with them which follow-up the emergency aid provided a few days after the earthquake. “The help from Aid to the Church in Need is and will remain absolutely essential for the country,” emphasized Marco Mencaglia, ACN project manager for Ecuador, after his visit to the region’s most severely affected by the quake.

 

The scene met by the Franciscan Sisters

Both the church and the parish hall have been completely destroyed. Cracks of more than 10 centimeters wide line the walls. Some bricks on the verge of falling are held in by power lines. The churches’ windows and glass panes fell out within seconds like sheets of paper.  This was the scene met by the Franciscan Sisters and which led them in desperation to ask Aid to the Church in Need for help.

“The church is a reference point in Canoa. Its loss is highly significant, much more so than the loss of any other building. The Sisters’ work in Canoa is of great importance,” said Marco Mencaglia who had the opportunity to experience how the Sisters work on the spot. “If the Sisters leave – God will leave,” is what the villagers firmly believe.

Ecuador 3

 

The Canadian office of Aid to the Church in Need is welcoming donations to support reconstruction efforts.  Moreover, national director Marie-Claude Lalonde confirms the Sisters aims: “I visited Egypt and Cuba among other places a few years ago, and in both instances I was able to observe how the presence of members of the Consecrated Life of the Church was an essential presence to a small community.  Not only do they represent an important pastoral and spiritual presence among the people, but they very often are the only social service for people to turn to for help when the population experiences a problem related to poverty or a family,“ explains Mrs Lalonde.

 

The earth shook for 50 seconds leaving almost 700 dead

“The people have lost their day-to-day lives. There are no workplaces left. The children can’t go to school any more. The lucky ones will be able to resume their lessons in a few months,” explained Mencaglia. The school of the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis of Sales in Rocafuerte attended by 1,500 children has been severely affected. “It will be a long time before it returns to its former state.”

Ecuador 4

 

Even so, life carries on. The people have to reinvent themselves. Those who formerly had a food store now sell from a stand on the street. The shopping areas are among the most affected, but: “There’s no time to sit and think. We have to become active again and go to work,” they stress.

The dangerous areas around many places have been fenced in because of the danger of collapsing buildings. The buildings are being investigated one by one. The architects decide whether they have to be demolished or not. The owners have now been accommodated in provisional quarters. If they are lucky they get prior warning so that they can rescue personal items. “They left their homes empty-handed,” said Mencaglia.

The earthquake lasted 50 seconds and was 7.8 on the Richter scale. According to the latest report by Caritas Ecuador there were 660 fatalities, 31 missing persons, 30,223 people in emergency accommodation, 1,125 destroyed buildings and 560 damaged schools.

“We are overwhelmed by, and grateful for, the help given by the pontifical pastoral charity ACN. We have been able to buy water, food and clothing for the people now living on the street,” they said. They also expressed the wish that people should not forget them.

Father Walter Coronel mentioned that Gregory the Great is the patron saint of Portoviejo. In the cathedral there is a statue of him and it collapsed during the earthquake. The hands shattered. “And that’s how we are: We have no hands, no means to rebuild the country. We ask for help so that we may stand tall again.”

 

By M. Z. de la Morena, press@acn-intl.org

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

Ecuador – ‘They need help, and they need it now’

22.04.2016 in ACN International, By M.Z. de la Morena, Ecuador, Emergency Aid, Feature Story

ACN sends emergency aid for earthquake victims in Ecuador

Many churches and parish structures have been totally destroyed

Water, blankets, torches, food, medicine, candles, mattresses, tents… They are asking for everything, because they have nothing… The situation people are facing in the coastal provinces of Ecuador is truly a tragic one, almost like a scene from a horror film. They need help, and they need it now. Time is passing and the situation is worsening rapidly.

“The decomposing bodies are becoming a health hazard, and the people are becoming desperate,” explains Archbishop Lorenzo Voltolini Esti of the archdiocese of Portoviejo in a letter to the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need ACN, and the charity has responded immediately with emergency aid for the most urgent necessities. This aid will be followed later with a series of projects for reconstruction.

Water, blankets, torches, food, medicine, candles, mattresses, tents… They are asking for everything, because they have nothing…

Ecuador, Archdiocese of Portoviejo after the earthquake, 18.04.2016 Fr. Walter Coronel (priest at Ahuano in the province of Manabi) wrote to ACN and also sent these pictures showing the places Jama, Pedernales and and Canoa .: “ … This is a very dangerous situation in our province.The official information is that 477 people died – in Pedernales until now over 300 people died, in Jama almost 70 and in Portovirjo and Manta about 250 died. Many injured people are assisted on the squares. We don’t know anything about small communities in the villages, we imagine huge damages. Many people along the road are asking for food, blankets and water.Almost all the temples and religious houses are almost completely destroyed or strongly damaged. Today we went with Archbishop Voltolini to see what is the situation, and comfort at least spiritually the people, the road is disrupted, and at points there is no passing, we had to do it phases to get there. The photo shows: Damaged church

Ecuador, Archdiocese of Portoviejo after the earthquake, 18.04.2016

Many localities in the northwestern coastal province of Manabi, around Jama, Pedernales, Cojimíes, San Isidro and Portoviejo, have suffered up to 90% destruction, the archbishop explains. In many of the suburban barrios, buildings built with a mixture of materials – cane, wood and brick – have been badly damaged. People have lost their homes and are now sleeping in the streets, squares or other open spaces, because they are terrified of the aftershocks that are constantly shaking the area. According to the official report of the country’s Geophysical Institute, there have been more than 550 aftershocks since last Saturday, 16 April, and it is likely that there will continue to be movements in the coming weeks, registering anything between 3.5 and 6.0 on the Richter Scale. (according to Caritas Ecuador on Wed 20 April 2016). This is something Ecuadorians have come to know about and fear.

The stadiums and sports halls have been turned into centres for the recovery and identification of the dead and for the celebration of mass funerals. Each day the number of victims grows, and even though by now there is almost no possibility of finding any survivors still living beneath the rubble, the priority for everyone, and which is still continuing by day and by night, is the search for lost loved ones among the ruins – “despite the fact they do not have the necessary equipment,” writes Archbishop Voltolini.

On top of all the anguish over the dead, the missing and the injured, there are the psychological injuries of the survivors, above all of the most vulnerable, the children and the aged, who in many cases have been left totally alone. According to information from Ecuador’s National Centre for Risk Management, the number of the injured currently being cared for is over 4,600, and the various refuges and centres for the homeless are currently housing around 20,500 people.

 

Churches and parish structures left completely beyond repair

Some of the churches in Portoviejo, Pedernales and Montecristi have been totally destroyed, while others have suffered around 80% destruction. Parish halls, catechetical centres, presbyteries, convents and monasteries, hostels and guesthouses have been destroyed, and those that have not been flattened are either very difficult to gain access to or else so badly damaged that they are at risk of imminent collapse. It is difficult for now to calculate the total cost of all the buildings destroyed or damaged, but the Archdiocese of Portoviejo expects it to be somewhere in the vicinity of 10 million dollars.

 

Ecuador, Archdiocese of Portoviejo after the earthquake, 18.04.2016 Fr. Walter Coronel (priest at Ahuano in the province of Manabi) wrote to ACN and also sent these pictures showing the places Jama, Pedernales and and Canoa .: “ … This is a very dangerous situation in our province.The official information is that 477 people died – in Pedernales until now over 300 people died, in Jama almost 70 and in Portovirjo and Manta about 250 died. Many injured people are assisted on the squares. We don’t know anything about small communities in the villages, we imagine huge damages. Many people along the road are asking for food, blankets and water.Almost all the temples and religious houses are almost completely destroyed or strongly damaged. Today we went with Archbishop Voltolini to see what is the situation, and comfort at least spiritually the people, the road is disrupted, and at points there is no passing, we had to do it phases to get there. The photo shows: Destroyed buildings and rubble

Many of the more rural areas in the countryside of Manabí province have not even been reached yet and so it is not known how many victims there are or how extensive the damage is. “What little information we have about them reaches us from time to time through the parish priests, the religious or other pastoral workers from the area”, Archbishop Voltolini tells ACN; though he calculates that around 75% of  homes and parish structures in these areas may well have been destroyed.

So far the Catholic Church in Portoviejo is mourning the loss of two religious sisters, five postulants of the congregation of the Hijas del Hogar de la Madre and also has three priests who are seriously injured.

 

The Church must act as a mother to the most afflicted

“We are empty-handed.” These are the words, like a cry of despair, that the bishop has written in his letter to ACN, imploring help for this initial humanitarian phase, in the face of the terrible situation people are having to endure. “For now the aid is being distributed via the parishes, through the parish priests and other local pastoral workers. We want in this way to show the Merciful and Compassionate Face of Christ and his Body which is the Church,” he writes. “Every mother always comes to the aid of her children, including those who for various reasons have drifted away from her. The Church is their Mother and must act as such .” 

As Metropolitan Archbishop, he asks our prayers for his people and at the same time expresses his gratitude for the “already proven charity” of ACN.

 

donateBy M.Z. de la Morena, Aid to the Church in Need

Translated and adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

 

 


 

 

 

Earthquake in Ecuador #PrayForEcuador

21.04.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN PROJECTS, Ecuador, Emergency Aid

Earthquake in Ecuador

“Funerals in the streets”

Many Ecuadorians experienced the earthquake in churches because “it was the hour of the Mass”

An odor of decomposition and combustion floats in the streets of the Ecuadorian city of Portoviejo. People desperately ask for water, food and blankets. No one is sleeping in his house, even those whose houses are still standing. In an interview with the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Father Walter Coronel, missionary Fidei Donum in the Archdiocese of Portoviejo said through tears: “We are afraid that the earth is still shaking.”

 

It is 11 am in San Gregorio de Portoviejo. The thermometer reads 33 degrees. It is winter in the capital of the province of Manabi. Several days before the earthquake, heavy rain had hammered down for over twelve hours, forcing hundreds of people to leave their homes. Originally from Portoviejo, the missionary had gone there a few days, leaving the activities it is conducting in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

 

Fr. Walter Coronel (priest at Ahuano in the province of Manabi) wrote to ACN and also sent these pictures showing the places Jama, Pedernales and and Canoa .: “ … This is a very dangerous situation in our province.The official information is that 477 people died – in Pedernales until now over 300 people died, in Jama almost 70 and in Portovirjo and Manta about 250 died. Many injured people are assisted on the squares. We don’t know anything about small communities in the villages, we imagine huge damages. Many people along the road are asking for food, blankets and water.Almost all the temples and religious houses are almost completely destroyed or strongly damaged. Today we went with Archbishop Voltolini to see what is the situation, and comfort at least spiritually the people, the road is disrupted, and at points there is no passing, we had to do it phases to get there. The photo shows: One of the badly damaged churches

Fr. Walter Coronel (priest at Ahuano in the province of Manabi) wrote to ACN and also sent these pictures showing the places Jama, Pedernales and and Canoa .: “ … This is a very dangerous situation in our province.The official information is that 477 people died – in Pedernales until now over 300 people died, in Jama almost 70 and in Portovirjo and Manta about 250 died. Many injured people are assisted on the squares. We don’t know anything about small communities in the villages, we imagine huge damages. Many people along the road are asking for food, blankets and water.Almost all the temples and religious houses are almost completely destroyed or strongly damaged. Today we went with Archbishop Voltolini to see what is the situation, and comfort at least spiritually the people, the road is disrupted, and at points there is no passing, we had to do it phases to get there.
The photo shows: One of the badly damaged churches.

 

“It was two minutes before the start of the mass at seven o’clock on Saturday morning. Father Roberto Carlos Garviami was about to introduce myself to the one hundred faithful in the church of San José Picoaza when the ground began to shake. The earthquake was very, very powerful. Suddenly, a few centimeters away from me, a large section of the roof collapsed and buried Father Roberto. «In seconds, fear, blood and cries invaded the parish.

 

Broken-down churches and funeral on street corners

“I clutched two unknown persons in my arms. I could only pray and ask God for this to end as quickly as possible.” According to unofficial sources, there were no deaths in the church of San José Picoaza. But many people lost their lives in the churches of the Archdiocese and the Cathedral of Portoviejo.

 

The epicenter of the magnitude 7.9 earthquake was located 150 km from Portoviejo. Because of the earthquake, the buildings collapsed like houses of cards. There are more places to celebrate Mass, says Ecuadorian priest. The few churches which were not completely destroyed are full of cracks and the walls may collapse. “With Every discovery of a new victim, we celebrate the funeral in the street, at the corner of ruined houses.”

 

For now, it is still almost impossible to determine the number of dead because in the hills, entire rural areas are buried under rocks and trees. So far, nobody has been able to access it. “We know nothing about the people in the countryside. No one could get there. We are completely overwhelmed. ”

The more time passes, the less chance of finding survivors under the rubble. People are just beginning to realize what has happened to their homes, and the situation is deteriorating rapidly, confirms Walter father. Desperate, he adds: “The bodies begin to decompose. We have no water supply, and electricity is constantly interrupted. Our country is not prepared for this. ”

 Ecuador 3

A community in solidarity

Since the earthquake, the website of the Archdiocese of Portoviejo has not been updated, which proves – in the circumstances – a providential coincidence. Indeed, the site’s cover photo shows a poster on the Year 2016 home, under the motto “To welcome is to be happy to welcome a brother.” For the Ecuadorian people share the little they have with their countrymen. “People light fires in the streets and do the cooking for everyone, even for strangers.”

 

Father Walter Coronel has appealed to the international community and asks for help to get the Ecuadorian people out of this desperate situation. Aid to the Church in Need, which already supports several projects in the country, is now giving its support to help brothers and sisters in distress, through various emergency and reconstruction programs.

 

Ecuador 2

By M.Z. de la Morena, Aid to the Church in Need

Translated and adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

 

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Project of the week: Feeding Iraqi refugees

03.02.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN PROJECTS, Adaptation Mario Bard, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to refugees, Emergency Aid, Iraq, Journey with ACN, Lebanon, Projets pastorale, Refugees, SUBSISTENCE, Syria, Voyager avec l’AED

Lebanon

Help to feed Iraqi refugees 

Right now, Lebanon is facing huge challenges . This small country of just 4.5 million has had to find space for no fewer than 1.1 million refugees. In fact, this number includes only those refugees officially registered with international agencies. The real figure is almost certainly much higher than this.

Every day more refugees are arriving in Lebanon, from Syria and Iraq. More often than not, their dreams of a better life here are quickly devastated for while they have at least saved their lives, they very soon find themselves confronted with immense difficulties with simply finding ways to live and  to survive.  They face astronomical rents for example, even for the smallest and most miserable living accommodations. There is no work. Medical treatment is expensive and indeed virtually unaffordable for most refugees. If refugees attempt to move elsewhere within Lebanon, they can be arrested and imprisoned as illegal immigrants. Many have had false expectations of what awaited them abroad.

Lebanon: exemple of pastoral projects to the refugees children of Syria and Iraq.

Lebanon: An example of pastoral projects to the refugees children of Syria and Iraq.

In the capital city of Beirut, the Chaldean Catholic eparchy is striving to take care of  Iraqi families, most of who have fled here from Mosul and the Plain of Niniveh from the advancing ISIS fighters. The eparchy provides these people with basic necessities, helps them look for work, and also ministers to them pastorally.

For example,  children can prepare for their First Holy Communion and there are other catechetical classes for children and young people, plus pastoral and social services for women and many other services besides. Last year ACN gave a total of 43,500 CAD towards the cost of this pastoral and human support for the Iraqi refugees. For example, helping with the supply of catechetical materials, including audiovisual equipment .

Chaldean Bishop Michel Kassarji of Beirut has thanked ACN for all the help he has already received, and in advance,for the help he still about to receive. “We pray to Christ our Lord, the Good Samaritan, to pour out his graces on you in rich measure and bless you, and to reward you, and all those who have contributed to this wonderful work of charity, a hundredfold for the good you have done.”

At the same time he has asked us to help his community with additional aid for food and other necessities.

We have promised him 14,500 CAD.

Holy communion for the refugee children of Iraq and Syria, at St.Joseph Parish.

Holy communion for the refugee children of Iraq and Syria, at St.Joseph Parish.