fbpx

ACN Tag

 

Project of the Week – Supporting young mothers in Burkina Faso

05.10.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Burkina Faso, Pastoral work

For the love of life

Supporting young single mothers in Burkina Faso

 

As soon Antoinette told her boyfriend she was pregnant, he slammed the door in her face. Suddenly, he would have nothing to do with her any longer. And her uncle too, with whom she had been living, simply kicked her out of the house when he learned of her condition.

 

The 16-year-old found she was completely alone. Fortunately though, the story had a a happy ending. A neighbour told her about the care centre for pregnant women and single mothers run by the Catholic Church in Dedougou. She went to them, sought shelter, and now she can give birth to her baby in a loving, caring and supportive atmosphere.

Antoinette‘s story is far too common a story for many young girls in Burkina Faso. Socially speaking, women very much hang on the bottom rung. Only 14% of so can read or write, and the number of young girls trying to raise one or more children alone is growing.  More often than not, the father of their child will not accept any responsibility for it. Most of these girls are already from poor and disadvantaged families, often with no one to care for them. Many are, in fact, orphaned.

When the girls become pregnant, they are thrown out of the house or forced into abortion. Sometimes they give birth to their baby and then abandon it on a street corner. Many are already compelled to sleep on the streets, because they have nowhere else to go. Others may be fleeing from an arranged marriage, of again may have already slid into prostitution.Too many of these girls and young women only end up in prostitution because they can see no other way of supporting themselves and their babies. This is often the start of a vicious circle in which they might also become infected with HIV and end up in a still worse situation than before. It also frequently happens that they become pregnant again very soon afterwards, still further compounding their difficulties. Sadly, some of these young women end up in such despair – they ultimately take their own lives.

 

Centre d'accueil en faveur des filles-mères, Dédougou

Supporting young women often rejected from their homes and communities because they are expecting a child. They center in Degougou welcomes these young mothers so that life can flourish in the best conditions.

 

The centre for young mothers in Dedougou offers hope and a refuge for many girls and women who have ended up in such desperate situations. Here, they are given support and advice, the opportunity to continue their schooling – or go to school for the first time in their lives. Additionally, they are also given the opportunity to train in a useful skill, such as hairdressing. For many of the girls it may be the first time in their lives that anyone has ever cared for or helped them. They learn what it is to feel valued and to what means to feel safe.  They are given the chance to bring their children into the world in the peace and security offered by the centre – resulting in the ability to hope for a better future.

 

Aid to the Church in Need has been helping for this centre for some time now.

 

Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we are able to help again this year, with 21,900 CAD.

Would you like to support a project like this one?  We welcome your love and support.  Simply click to ‘Donate’.

donate

 


 

International Prayer! 1 Million Children Praying the Rosary

05.10.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Children, Children, Pastoral work, Peace, Prayer, Press Release

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

 

Children Praying the Rosary

More than ever: Pray for Peace and Unity

Montreal, Wednesday October 5 – Again this year, Aid to the Church in Need is supporting the One Million Children Pray the Rosary* campaign, an international event with participation also across Canada taking place Tuesday, October 18.


Since the inception of this initiative born in Venezuela in 2005, the international organization has been attracted to the idea of uniting children together to pray for peace in the world.  In Canada, several pastoral services, dioceses and parishes, will participate in the nearing event.  “We want to share this initiative which represents our mission so well, year after year,” explains Marie-Claude Lalonde, the pontifical charities’ national director. “Even more so given what is happening in Syria at the moment, in Iraq and in the Democratic Republic of Congo making praying for peace and for unity in the world an essential part of Christian life.”

 

Christians also have a few more reasons to be touched by this call to prayer, particularly because it is a question of religious persecution, as the upcoming Report on Religious Freedom will demonstrate when it is launched this November. “In many countries, Christians are a minority and experience persecution.  It is our duty to do what we can to help them, if only to pray for them,” explains Mrs Lalonde.

 

This prayer initiative connects to one of the goals Aid to the Church in Need has – which is to pray for Christians who are poor, isolated and persecuted throughout the world, as well as to stay informed about their situation and act on their behalf.

 

Material available!

In order to support our parishes, schools and Catholic spiritual centres, or other organizations who wish to participate in this pastoral initiative; the Canadian office of Aid to the Church in Need has material made for children and their guides: a leaflet and a letter for children, a poster and decade Rosaries among others.

We invite anyone interested to contact us, at 1 (800) 585- 6333 or (514) 932-0552 or send an email to info@acn-aed-ca.org to request the free material.

 

*Witnessing children praying the Rosary before the Virgin Mary in Caracas (the capital of Venezuela) a few women felt the strong presence of the Holy Mother and became aware of the power of the children’s prayer.  What followed was the launch of this great prayer initiative.

 

1er Juin: les enfants réunis dans les ruines de la cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix à Homs, prient pour la paix en Syrie.

June 1st, 2016:  Children at Our Lady of Peace Cathedral in Homs, Syria – Praying together for Peace. 

 

By Mario Bard, Aid to the Church in Need Canada

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin

 

 


 

 

ACN Interview – Father Halemba on Syria

30.09.2016 in ACN International, ACN Interview, By Aleksandra Szymczak, Construction, Journey with ACN, Middle East, Syria

Syria

“We are never safe”

Father Andrzej Halemba, Head of the Middle East Projects Department of the international Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need recently returned from a trip to war-torn Syria. In this interview with journalists from within the organization, he speaks about the current situation.

 

What does the situation look like in Syria right now?

“Right now everybody is holding his breath because the situation looks promising, but on the other hand we are facing a humanitarian crisis on an enormous scale. That is why people say “ok, we have hope, once again we have experienced a little bit of peace,” but this is of course not a complete peace. Damascus, for example, during the time I was there was quiet for two days, but on Sunday there were eight explosions in the outskirts of the city. DAESH, Al Nusra and other Al-Qaida groups want to destabilize the situation and show that there will be no peace in Syria without their engagement.

Syria has changed completely in just 5 years. From a rich country which was enjoying peace and where business was going very well, to suddenly being completely destroyed.

Syria September 2016 The celebrations of the Feast of the Cross in Yabroud, September 2016. School children carried on their shoulders the Cross, the image of Christ, etc. After the Mass the Cross is being burnt as the symbol of the light and the warmth which comes from the Cross to the whole World.

Syria September 2016
The celebrations of the Feast of the Cross in Yabroud. School children carried on their shoulders the Cross, the image of Christ, etc. After the Mass the Cross is being burnt as the symbol of the light and the warmth which comes from the Cross to the whole World. An essentiel in the middle of the darkness of the war. 

 

How did the war change the life of Syrians?

The population of Syria has dropped from 24.5 million to little over 17 million. Nearly 6 million people are outside the country. There are over 4.8 million Syrian refugees in the neighbouring countries and 13.5 million people in need of humanitarian help inside Syria. Many areas are extremely difficult to reach. Food is very expensive. For example, in the area controlled by the government the price of rice rose from 2010 nearly 250%, but in the rebel areas its price rose 28 times! So if basic food is so expensive, what kind of a miserable life is it? Over 57% of people are not able to find jobs. They make their living by begging and from humanitarian help. And, 4.6 million people are in hard-to-reach areas.

Everybody is afraid of the possible division of the country and of the prolongation of the conflict due to new factors like actions of Turkish army on the territory of Syria against so-called rebels and against Kurdish people. The situation is extremely complex, but certainly for the first time in several months there is a small flame of hope.

Syria September 2016 Holy Mass on the Feast of the Cross, 14th September 2016, in front of the Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Homs destroyed by the bombing with Father Andrzej Halemba (ACN) and Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop Jean Abdou Arbach of Homs. ACN is helping in reconstruction of the Cathedral. SYRIA / HOMS-MLC 16/00057 Cathedral renovation "Our Lady of Peace" in Homs

Holy Mass on the Feast of the Cross, 14th September 2016, in front of the Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Homs destroyed by the bombing with Father Andrzej Halemba (ACN) and Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop Jean Abdou Arbach of Homs. ACN is helping in reconstruction of the Cathedral.

 

Which experiences during your trip to Syria saddened you the most?

First of al the ruins that you can see around Damascus – It is a lovely city and still the people refuse to be in [a state of] despair there. Despite the difficult situation they try to live a “normal life.” But the landscape of the surroundings of the city is terrible. When we went to Homs, we had to use side roads because the motorway was blocked by snipers. The streets are dirty, people are poorly dressed, the prices are very high and there is a lot of suspicion. A growing number of checkpoints have definitely an impact on people’s mentality: “We are always in danger because there are so many soldiers checking on every car and every person.” Due to constant pressure on them caused by bomb attacks everybody is extremely tired, especially the police.

In Homs we’ve been passing through a place where few days before there had been an attack by Al Nusra. They drove the car into the city centre and at the checkpoint they triggered off the bomb, killing themselves and six soldiers. With this terror people are very deeply traumatized. “We are never safe” they say. And that makes them really tired.

The families are in a dramatic situation as they can’t sustain themselves. They have no work or are being very much underpaid. And the displaced people who had to leave their homes – 6.5 million of them to be more precise – need to rent rooms, but the rental prices are extremely high. Without having the income this becomes a big challenge for them.

Last but not least the question of the young people who are very afraid to be taken by the army or by the rebels to fight. They are the most vulnerable, that is why they run away. That is also why amongst the refugees in Europe there are so many young people.

 

Were there any situations at all that you could describe as beautiful ones?

The moment they come and say to us: “We cannot thank you more” or very often without words they burst into tears because nobody is helping them in such a way as they need. It is very emotional for us. They are so grateful. But this help has not only a material aspect. It gives them so much more: strength through the gesture of solidarity which they experience. People in Marmarita told me: “Father, it is so important for us that we don’t feel forgotten.”

We should remember that Aid to the Church in Need is one of the biggest donors who contributed emergency aid in Syria, especially for Christians. According to the analyses, we have learned that at least 195,000 Christians and other people were helped by Aid to the Church in Need. The help was in the form of food baskets, electricity, gas, medicines, scholarships… we were able to identify nearly 17 different ways of helping Syrian people in 2015.

I also always ask people in Syria to pray for benefactors and for their families. And they say, “We pray daily for them.” And in fact, they are doing just that. Very often they carry the rosaries, pray together in the churches, and also individually. This is, in fact, an exchange of love through a bridge of prayer.

Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop Jean Abdou Arbach of Homs shows the inside of the destroyed Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace. ACN helps to rebuild the Cathedral. SYRIA / HOMS-MLC 16/00057 Cathedral renovation "Our Lady of Peace" in Homs

Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop Jean Abdou Arbach of Homs shows the inside of the destroyed Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace. ACN helps to rebuild the Cathedral.

Is there a story from one of the project partners that you would like to share?

There is a teacher from Damascus. She went abroad twice: once to the USA and once to Europe and she says: “I cannot live over there. I have to come back to Syria. I have to help children in the schools. I want to grow old here and I want to die here.” This is a person who really loves her country despite the difficulties and despite the temptation of having an easy life.

I also remember two young people from the Valley of Christians. They were extremely well educated; both spoke very good English. With their qualifications they could easily find work in Western countries. Furthermore, their parents lived in the USA and call every day for them to come. But they refuse to go. They say: “We have to help others. There are so many who depend on us.” Indeed, they are helping a few hundred families. They work as volunteers. This is amazing.

Holy Mass on the Feast of the Cross with Archbishop Jean Abdou Arbach, 14th September 2016, in front of the Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Homs destroyed by the bombing. ACN is helping in reconstruction of the Cathedral. SYRIA / HOMS-MLC 16/00057 Cathedral renovation "Our Lady of Peace" in Homs

Holy Mass on the Feast of the Cross with Archbishop Jean Abdou Arbach, 14th September 2016, in front of the Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Homs destroyed by the bombing. 

 

Since the eruption of the war in Syria in 2011, Aid to the Church in Need hassupported emergency humanitarian projects and pastoral aid projects
with an amount of close to 19 million dollars CAN. 

 

donate

By Aleksandra Szymczak, Aid to the Church in Need International
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Canada


 

 

ACN Project of the Week – Democratic Republic of Congo

28.09.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Project of the Week, RDC CONGO

Democratic Republic of Congo  

Housing for those who provide dignity

Already one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been thrown still further into destitution and chaos by the continuing violence and armed conflict throughout the country.

 

A lack of security and political instability have left ordinary people in Congo poorer than ever before. Many parents are finding themselves unable to care for their children, and many children are being abandoned or even thrown out of their homes – often under the pretext of having practiced witchcraft and therefore bringing evil upon the family.  It comes as no surprise then, that so very many boys end up going off the rails and joining criminal gangs. Girls, are very often forced into prostitution or become pregnant and have no one to help them, they are left completely alone often incapable of caring for their children. They have had no education and have no idea how to support themselves and no resources other than prostitution to turn to.

 

Construction of a convent for the Congregation Filles de Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur in Mbandaka

New resources

The Sisters of the congregation of the Filles de Notre Dame du Sacré Cœur (Sisters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart) are caring for these helpless people barely out of childhood in four separate centres around the country. The Sisters care for street children and orphans and help adolescent young mothers by providing them with new resources.  They teach the girls how to knit and how to sew, so that they can support themselves.

The Sisters also teach basic literacy, provide care for the elderly, tend to patients suffering from leprosy in special centres created for the purpose.  They provide medical services for the sick who would otherwise have no access to medical treatment and midwifery care for expectant mothers. Schools enjoy the benefit of their teaching and parishes benefit from their support in various ways such as cathechetical instruction.

 

Construction of a convent for the Congregation Filles de Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur in Mbandaka

 

Plans to build a new centre are now underway in Mbandaka (the north-west of DRCongo). The centre’s main function  will be as a place for the Sisters to put their skills to work in the care of orphans and the sick.

 

ACN has promised 116,800 CAD toward the realization of this wonderful project.  

You can help.

donate


 

Azerbaijan: A tiny community will be visited

15.09.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN Feature, ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, Azerbaijan, Feature Story, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Peace, Pope, Pope Francis

 Azerbaijan 

Pope Francis brings peace

 

Fourteen years after the visit of John Paul II, Azerbaijan is once again preparing for a pontifical visit. The pope will not only travel to the tiny Catholic community, but will also work towards peace in this long suffering region.  

Situated on the shores of the Caspian Sea, Baku is a very beautiful city if you ignore the large blocks of Soviet high rises grouped together at its edges. With its mix of the Orient, the capital city offers a collection from several historical periods, beginning with the old city with its narrow alleys, classical buildings and old mosques, to the Baroque city from the time of the first oil boom in the early twentieth century, all the way to the ultramodern city of the new oil boom; here, the boldest architects on Earth have given their best.

Azerbaïjan 2016: market in Baku

Azerbaïjan 2016: market in Baku

 

 

The country is rich, very rich as a matter of fact, thanks to the oil that has made it possible to shift the focus to major projects.
The “Dubai of the Caspian See” was even planning to create artificial islands, as is common practice among the rich Emirates on the Arabian Peninsula. Ninety-five per cent of its resources stem from this energy source, which means that the country has not been left unscathed by the current drop in oil prices. Large-scale projects such as the extension of the subway have been suspended while the one or other budget problem has come to light.

 

 

When the Sisters of Mother Teresa arrived in the country in 2006 to serve the poor, they were told that there were no poor in Azerbaijan! However, there are those whom the system has forgotten; these are the ones who mourn Soviet times when everyone received a subsistence wage.

 

Baku, «the Dubai of the Caspien Sea», where the ultrmodern and traditionnal architecture meet.

Baku, «the Dubai of the Caspien Sea», where the ultrmodern and traditionnal architecture meet.

 

Sunnis make up a minority in Azerbaijan with an estimated 15% to 30%. The government keeps a very close watch on any attempts at radicalization. It has probably not only remained suspicious of religion as such, but is also aware of the dangers of its expansion in view of the current situation in the Middle East.  Even though it barely makes up more than 2% of the population (9.7 millions), the second most important religion is the Orthodox faith. In the past, its followers counted barely half a million, but their numbers shrank to 200,000 when half of the Russians left the country after independence. The Orthodox Church has an eparchy with approximately fifteen parishes and maintains good relations with the Catholic Church.

 

 

A tiny minority Church

 

A Catholic church was built in 1912 during the time of the first oil boom, but was closed again with the arrival of the Bolsheviks in 1920 a

nd then destroyed in the early 1930s. When the Catholic Church returned in 1992, only a dozen aged followers remained of what had once been 10,000 Catholics. Today, the community has 300 native-born members (often mixed marriages) and 1,000 foreign members including 300 Filipinos: when considered in relation to the entire country, an almost symbolic presence. On average, about 500 people come together each week.

Azerbaïdjan: 95% of the inhabitants are Muslims, but the religious practice is discreet.

Azerbaïdjan: 95% of the inhabitants are Muslims, but the way to practice the religion is discreet.

 

 

Since it was initially seen as an evangelizing sect, John Paul II’s visit did wonders for the Church. For example in response to the visit, the president gave a piece of land to the Church, which is now dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. A large statue of the Virgin Mary stands directly in front of the parish and draws many people, including many Muslims and particularly women. (picture of of the top)

 

The Catholic Church in Azerbaijan has only a single parish with a church and a chapel that is served by six priests. This small community also includes five Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity and two Salesian nuns who are under the direction of the apostolic prefect, Msgr. Vladimir Fekete, a Salesian from Slovenia.

 

On May 29, 2016, the future first Azerbaijani priest was ordained to the diaconate in Saint Petersburg: this is very good news for the Church in Azerbaijan. These can probably be considered the first buds of this discreet, but truly missionary presence.   

 

Children holding the ACN's Bible for children. We are there to help this tiny but active community.

Children holding ACN’s Bible for children. As organization, We are there to help this tiny but active community.

Trip to Azerbaijan of ACN France in 2016

Ultramodern towers in Baku. Pope Francis is visiting Azerbaidjan between September 30 and October 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Picture at the top: Catholic church in Baku, the statue of the Virgin Mary 

By Marc Fromager, ACN France
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada


 

ACN PROJECT OF THE WEEK – COLUMBIA

24.08.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Columbia, SEMINARIANS

Colombia

Help for the training of Cúcuta future priests

The diocese of Cúcuta lies in the far north-east of Colombia bordering Venezuela. This year there is special reason for celebration, as the local diocesan seminary is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The rector of the seminary, Father José Abel Sierra Parra, has written to Aid to the Church in Need, saying: “We thank the Lord for the fact that during this time he has blessed us with numerous vocations, and also with individuals and associations that have helped us both spiritually and materially.”

Columbia: a formation under the protection of Our Lady.

Columbia: a formation under the protection of Our Lady.

 

For the new Bishop, Victor Manuel Ochoa Cadavid, it is equally a heartfelt wish that these young men be supported and helped in their vocation. He knows the seminary very well, and wants to develop the promotion of priestly vocations in his diocese even more.

At this time, 49 young men are attending the seminary and receiving training in order to one day serve as priests at God’s altar. Most of these young men are from poor families who have little in terms of the material means needed to help their sons on this path they were called to. This is why the seminary needs outside help to cover the cost of training these future priests.

And so the bishop has turned to Aid to the Church in Need, with a request to subsidize the cost of the training of his seminarians.

Because of our benefactors, we were able to promise him 17,762 CAD this year to help with the expense so that no priestly vocation need be lost simply for lack of money.

All the seminarians in Cúcuma pray regularly for all the generous benefactors who have helped them on their journey to the priesthood.donate

To donate to a similar project – please visit our secure donation page on line – or call us!

We love hearing from you.  We do what we do, thanks to you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An ACN Feature Interview – Nigeria

16.08.2016 in ACN Interview, ACN USA, By Joop Koopman, Nigeria

Nigeria

Boko Haram contained, Islamic aggression takes different form

 

Nigeria, located in the eastern part of the country’s so-called “Middle Belt.” The population of 2.3M is about equally divided between Muslims and Christians, 450,000 of whom are Catholic, with 10 percent of the people belonging to traditional religions. On a recent visit to New York, the bishop expressed his concern about what he labeled “suspiciously persistent” attacks by well-armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen on Christian farmers and a growing influx of Muslim settlers taken possession of land taken from these farmers. He spoke Aug. 5, 2016 with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

 

Boko Haram appears to be curtailed, and there are fewer attacks by the group. However, you have reported another manifestation of Islamic extremism in the form of these attacks by Fulani herdsmen on Christian farmers.

That is my suspicion—that jihad is taking a new course. It looks like a problem between herdsmen and farmers. In the past, things would settle down after a clash. But I have seen cases of herdsmen not just letting their cattle graze, but taking over the land—and Muslim from the north coming in to settle there. It appears to be a strategy to deliberately populate areas with Muslims and, by the sheer weight of superior numbers, influence political decision-making in the region. It is not the extreme violence of Boko Haram, but another way of capturing Nigeria for Islam. And this crisis has been sustained for the past three years in our region. It’s also suspicious that the herdsmen have access to sophisticated weaponry. There appears to be some financing of the Fulani aggression, which has left numerous dead, destroyed many communities and displaced thousands of people.

 

Are Muslims and Christians in competition in the “Middle Belt,” where neither religion has the upper hand?

Both faiths are committed to gaining new followers. The difference lies in the approach. Christianity uses persuasion through preaching. For Islam, it can be the case of a kind of coercion—the understanding that if you want to get anywhere in government, you have to be a Muslim. For example, the office of traditional rulers is presented as belonging only to Muslims, which prompts some Christians eligible to the throne to convert to Islam.

Bishop Charles M. Hammawa, Jalingo Diocese, Nigeria: ''We avoid inflaming hostilities; we preach peace and reconciliation; we urge Christian farmers not to retaliate—at most, we encourage them to defend themselves; but we cannot tell them to go and fight—that would violate the spirit of the Gospel. There definitely is a great fear of persecution among Christians, which brings some of them to compromise or hide their faith. Those who remain steadfast deserve our utmost support.''

Bishop Charles M. Hammawa, Jalingo Diocese, Nigeria: ”We avoid inflaming hostilities; we preach peace and reconciliation; we urge Christian farmers not to retaliate—at most, we encourage them to defend themselves; but we cannot tell them to go and fight—that would violate the spirit of the Gospel. There definitely is a great fear of persecution among Christians, which brings some of them to compromise or hide their faith. Those who remain steadfast deserve our utmost support.”

 

In this regard, how do you rate the policies of President Muhammadu Buhari—is he being fair to Christians?

I have some doubts. He is very cautious and a little bit slow in condemning the Fulani crisis, for example. I wish he would be stronger in making firm statements in this matter and take concrete action in combatting Islamic extremism. My worry is that—although Boko Haram members have been killed or are awaiting trial—the organization is laying low, with members hiding out in various places. Violence could readily flare up again.

 

What is the solution, in your view, to putting a real stop to Islamic extremism?

We keep saying that dialogue must be the solution. But the parties do have to come to the table with a sincere willingness to live in peace. Also, it must be acknowledged that many of the rank-and-file of Boko Haram had been neglected by the Muslim elite in the north for a long time. These youth and adults have not been properly educated, because Western education has been rejected; they have been living in the margins of the society, with only a fundamentalist Islamic formation. They are filled with anger and they have nothing to lose. Meanwhile, the Muslim elite send their children to be educated abroad! No wonder, Boko Haram eventually targeted Muslim leaders as well.

 

Do you and your priests use your homilies to address these issues?

We avoid inflaming hostilities; we preach peace and reconciliation; we urge Christian farmers not to retaliate—at most, we encourage them to defend themselves; but we cannot tell them to go and fight—that would violate the spirit of the Gospel. There definitely is a great fear of persecution among Christians, which brings some of them to compromise or hide their faith. Those who remain steadfast deserve our utmost support.

 

Are local authorities, such as the police, of any help?

Unfortunately, corruption and bribery hamper security efforts. Corruption, of course, is rampant all across Nigeria.

 

 By Joop Koopman, ACN USA


 

ACN Interview – Aleppo: the dark city

12.08.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN Interview, ACN UK, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Middle East, Moyen-Orient, Syria, Syrie

ACN Interview

Aleppo: the dark city

Father Ziad Hilal, a Jesuit priest who has been helping the victims of the war in Syria for a very long time now, once in Homs and now in Aleppo, recently spoke with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

 

What was the situation like in Aleppo?

Father Ziad Hilal: '' It is the same situation, our country is divided now. I think the only way is dialogue between Syrian and Syrian, because of the issues of the day, because with weapons – we could not find a resolution. We have to stop the weapons and work for peace. This is the most important thing for us as Syrians.”

Father Ziad Hilal: ” It is the same situation, our country is divided now. I think the only way is dialogue between Syrian and Syrian, because of the issues of the day, because with weapons – we could not find a resolution. We have to stop the weapons and work for peace. This is the most important thing for us as Syrians.”

“It is a sad situation for everybody because of the fighting. I couldn’t sleep well there because all the night we heard the bombardment and the fighting between the groups.”

“When I was there, there was electricity for maybe one hour, two hours, a day – but not every day either. Then it is a dark city, if you want, without electricity but the people use the generators, but not all the time they give them electricity for a few hours. But from midnight until morning it is black – a dark city – nothing happens.”

“Without electricity we couldn’t have warmth and a lot of people couldn’t go to their job also – and the city, it’s divided between two sides. Between the opposition and the government, then people couldn’t move from one side to the other side. And you can imagine every family can be divided between the two sides of the cities. And a lot of people couldn’t go from here to there, from there to here, to get to their jobs – and so they lost their jobs, they lost their houses.”

 

Are there any signs of hope?

“On one side things are dark, things are sad. On the other hand, we see the activities of the Church there and people, especially the Christian associations. These provide a sign of hope.”

“We have many services there with Aid to the Church in Need, with JRS, and the bishops to help the Christians to stay in their land – and also to help the Muslim people.”

 

What is exactly the action of the Church? 

 

“We have a big kitchen, this kitchen was sponsored by ACN and other associations, and a lot of people who come – we give about 7,500 meals every day. It is a lot – the team is a Muslim and Christian team, and a lot of the people who benefit from these meals are Muslims.”

 

He added that at the Missionaries of Mary, where the kitchen is based, are helping women – including Muslim women to sew handbags and other items to sell to make a living.

“The problem is Syria is not between Christians and Muslims – but I am giving you an example how our church works for reconciliation.”

 

Can you give us an example of how families are suffering?

“There are many poor families without work. I met a Catholic family where three children are working in a restaurant, one is 7 or 8 years old, the other one is 10 years old and the third one, he is 14 years old. Their father has died, we don’t know how, and their mother is also working. And the boss of the restaurant told me – you see these three children are working and I couldn’t tell them no it is summer now because they are helping their mother. I was choked.”

 

Aleppo, July 2016

Aleppo, July 2016

What is the situation like in Aleppo now that the rebels have driven further in to the city?

“I don’t know. What I can say? It is chaos now – and not only in Aleppo but throughout Syria.  Fighting is everywhere.  We speak a lot about Aleppo, but we also forget the other cities. It is the same situation, our country is divided now. I think the only way is dialogue between Syrian and Syrian, because of the issues of the day, because with weapons – we could not find a resolution. We have to stop the weapons and work for peace. This is the most important thing for us as Syrians.”

 

Do you think there will be peace?

“It is important now to say what Pope Francis said a few days ago – ‘I encourage everyone – young and old people – to live with enthusiasm in this year of mercy, to overcome indifference, and firstly proclaim peace in Syria is possible. Peace in Syria is possible.’ This is our cry today, that peace in Syria is possible, this is the only hope for us.”

 

 

 

What is your prayer for Syria?

“My prayer today is to ask God to give us peace and consolation. What the people in Syria and especially in Aleppo need is security and mercy to continue  with their lives, because it is a hard situation. God makes us understand that the only way is reconciliation between each other, as Syrian to Syrian, to stop the war and start a new life in peace”

Aid to the Church in Need continues to help in Syria the catholic communities that provides support
to the displaced and refugees.

Thanks to you.

donate

Emergency help in Syria, January 2016.

Emergency help in Syria, January 2016.

 

 

By John Newton, ACN United Kingdom

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada


 

ACN Project of the Week – Kenya

27.07.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Kenya

Kenya

Emergency aid for victims of  severe flooding 

The Turkana region of northwest Kenya has since time immemorial been home to nomadic or semi-nomadic peoples. Many of them have now become settled today, but the majority still find themselves forced by shortage of water  to move with their cattle to wherever water and grazing pastures can be found.

Merci de soutenir des paroissiens du diocèse de Lodwar.

The Turkana people number close on half a million, and like the better-known Maasai people, they also depend almost entirely on their livestock for their survival. In the past it was always cattle that formed the basis of their livelihood, but today the Turkana also keep camels, goats and sheep. Though just as before, the size of their flocks determines the social status of a family. To this day, cattle have a particularly high status in Turkana society and people even give them individual names. In the mythology of their tribe, cattle have a mediating role between the souls of the ancestors and the living.

 

Many of the Turkana people have by now become Christian. Around 25%  have been baptized, but there are many others also feeling a close bond with the Catholic Church. In fact, the Catholic missionaries only came to this region in the 1960s during a great famine, at which time the government relied heavily on the help of the Catholic Church. In the five decades since then a great deal has been achieved, and to this day the majority of the healthcare programs, the schools and the kindergartens, are provided by the Catholic diocese of Lodwar, which was established in 1978.

 

While this region normally suffers from drought, this year there was widespread and devastating flooding in April and May. A number of people died, their cattle drowned, and many of their huts were destroyed. As a result, many of these people have lost the basis of what was already a precarious existence and they now suffer from hunger and, in some cases, disease. The dwellings in the parishes of Kalokol and Nakwamekwi were almost completely swept away by the floods, because the flimsy structures built of mud and twigs could not withstand the force of the waters.

General view of Lodwar Used as Illustration for the Internet Project KENYA / LODWAR 16/00063 PrID: 1603309

 

Once again today, the people in this neglected region of Kenya find themselves counting above all on the help of the Church. And so the bishop of Lodwar has sent us an urgent appeal for emergency aid, so that he can help the worst affected parishes.

donateWe have given $15,950, with which he is able to help some 500 families, averaging around six persons each, to obtain essential food and medicines.

 

 


 

Press Release – Activities Report 2015

13.07.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Activities Report, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Mario Bard, Press Release, World

Activities Report 2015 –
Aid to the Church in Need

A record year in a world in crisis

 It is a new record year for the international Catholic organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).  In fact, thanks to 22 national offices established around the world, a little over 175 million dollars were collected in order to support 6,209 projects – a majority pastoral – a total of 595 more than in 2014; an exceptional year which also saw a multiplication of the world’s crises.

“Of course, we are happy to observe the great generosity of ACN benefactors and their response to various requests with as much vigour,” declares Marie-Claude Lalonde, the Canadian office’s national director. “But in quite another sense, it is also difficult to observe that this increase comes – in part – from the urgency created by the never-ending conflicts like those in Syria and in Iraq.”

In Canada alone, the Syrian refugee crisis allowed the Canadian office to collect $460,000, a significant amount for the Canadian office who finished their year with donations totaling close to three million dollars – also a record number.  “Our role is to support local Catholic communities who themselves support people who are refugees or displaced, with urgent aid,” says Mrs. Lalonde

SYRIA / NATIONAL 15/00180 ID: 1506021 Emergency help for the displaced families from Alqariatin moved to live in Homs city, Fairouzah, Zaidal, Maskanah, Alfuhaila - October, November, December 2015 6 people from Alqaryatain (Mrs. Widad Aziz and her sons Wasim , Nasim and Azoz Khazal, Mr. George Algharib and Mr. William Alkhori) have been killed by ISIS at the beginning of December 2015. the rest of  Widad's family lives in Zaidal and the family consists of her husband who suffered from a disease in his throat that prevents him from talking so he talks through a special device, two deaf- mute daughters and two sons who work to spend on all the family. One of the sons risked his life to go to Alqaryatain to bring the bodies of the martyrs, he arrived there not knowing what to do: to cry on his dead family or bring the bodies quickly fearing the tyranny of ISIS. He found all the bodies except that of William, he put the martyrs in his car and headed to Homs city where they live, and there weeping sound was louder than bullets and all the people of Alqaryatain cried on this good family's loss. Alqaryatain that has gone through calamities several times for this is not the first time that Alqaryatain people are displaced. The funeral for 5 of the martyrs was held in Zaidal Church and during the ceremony the news came that two more young men were killed (Ibrahim  and Georges Algharib) brothers of George Algharib and the missing body was found, but unfortunately it was impossible to bring the bodies because they were in hot spot near ISIS territory. Photo: The people from Alqaryatain are mourning about their martyrs - funeral at Zaidal Church

SYRIA: The people from Alqaryatain are mourning their martyrs – funeral at Zaidal Church

“There are also other projects which have as a goal to help Christians of the Middle East remain and stop the exodus, a phenomenon which many Patriarchs have compared to a tsunami!  Thus, we are supporting Msgr Jean-Clément Jeanbart in Aleppo, Syria, with a project called Building to Stay. As the name suggests, it’s about rebuilding – in spite of the war! – homes for the Christian population, so they will once more have a roof over their heads.

 

cover page

Other hot spots: North Africa, China, India

In the Canadian Activities Report 2015 set for launch this coming Thursday (July 14), other hot spots are being watched closely.  Such as in Africa, it is not so much the poverty which has drawn attention to this region. But the uprising of a more fundamentalist Islam in countries who have known for hundreds of years, a more moderate very integrated into society and living with Animists and Christians, Islam.  At this stage, there is also much concern about Christian minorities in North Africa who are worried about the rise in terrorist groups particularly in Libya.

In China, Christians are again subject to new periods of more significant persecution – imprisonment, house arrest and a campaign of destruction of crosses and places of worship.  This hasn’t stopped the relatively high rate of conversions to Christianity.  “The power of attraction of Catholic parishes is undeniable, especially among the young and educated,” reads the text.

'Bethlehem' is a new village created by Holy Ghost Fathers in Mirpur Khas for Christian converts from Hinduism

Bethlehem’ is a new village created by Holy Ghost Fathers in Mirpur Khas for Christian converts from Hinduism

In the Indian sub-continent, the subject of religious freedom is deeply worrying.  The ruling political party, the BJP, holds to the hope of the creation a ‘pure nation’, uniquely guided by the values of Hinduism.  And if, in certain regions its influence is relative, in others it is marked by acts of violence, red tape and injustices. In 2015, two religious Sisters were raped in the state of Bengal.  “And these are not isolated incidents,” says Véronique Vogel, head of projects for India.

“Reading the Activities Report is essential to grasp the extent of this task,” concludes Marie-Claude Lalonde.  “And it is only an overview of the thousands of partnerships with those who allow for the local Churches to respond to the spiritual needs surrounding them, but also to the many material needs of the societies where they are evolving.”

The annual Activities Report 2015 can be downloaded on the Aid to the Church in Need Canada website:   Activities Report 2015