- Written by Dr. Thomas Cherukat
INDIA: A COUNTRY IN TORMENTS
Dear Friends of the Fransalians,
It is with a heavy heart that I write this issue of Agape by way of reporting on the tragic situation in India with the devastating outbreak of the second wave of Covid-19. Many of you have sent me anxious inquiries to know more about the ever worsening situation in India. To say the least, India today is a broken country, a country in torments. There is much suffering, sorrow and grief all over the country. The infection rate is alarmingly increasing on a daily basis. The daily death toll is so high that the crematoriums and burial grounds are not able to cope as people are queuing up to find a slot to perform the last rites for their loved ones.
There is acute shortage of oxygen in the country. Hospitals across India are experiencing oxygen shortage. People are scrambling for oxygen cylinders and hospital beds. The country is also experiencing a chronic shortage of space on its intensive care units with many families forced to travel long distances to find a bed for their loved ones. New Delhi, the Capital Region of India with its 20 million people is the worst hit. Hospitals are full and new patients are being turned away. Some streets outside medical facilities have become crowded with the seriously ill and their loved ones trying to arrange stretchers and oxygen supplies for them as they plead with hospital authorities for a place inside. Most of the mega cities like Bombay and Bangalore are reeling under the pressure of shortage of emergency health care facilities. The heart-breaking scenes that are being witnessed outside hospitals, people dying without getting oxygen, reveal the grim reality of India's healthcare system collapsing.
There is much public anger against the Central Government and the political class in general for their total failure to have anticipated this tragedy that was brewing up for a sufficiently long time. The timely warnings from scientists and medical experts were ignored. The precious time gained between the first wave and the second wave were not utilized to enhance the public health infrastructure that was urgently needed to face the onslaught of the second wave.
The universal vaccination drive was started on time but it did not pick up momentum due to lack of efficient co-ordination and effective communication. Due to lack of foresight and timely planning, India the largest producer of vaccines in the world is now going through an acute shortage of vaccines begging for help from outside. Only 160 million people have received the vaccines so far. It is certainly a huge task for any Government to inoculate a population of 1.4 billion people.
Instead of investing on the urgent improvement of public health infrastructure with better planning and coordination to face the next onslaught of the virus, the Government of India sadly chose to celebrate its seemingly successful handling of the first wave. All political parties in the country too went on a relaxation mode. Most political parties including the ruling party of the Central Government were busy with election campaigns in several States organizing massive rallies and public meetings with thousands of people in attendance disregarding the Covid-appropriate behavior while the virus was still in a dormant stage. Top leaders of most political parties including the Prime Minister and many of his cabinet ministers went on an aggressive election campaign encouraging massive crowds to gather flouting all norms of the Covid protocol in force. Religious festivals like the Kumbh Mela on the shores of the river Ganges involving millions of people were easily permitted and encouraged by the Government. International cricket matches with thousands of people physically present in the stadium were permitted and encouraged.
The Present Situation
At the time of my writing this report (08.05.21), India has registered a total of more than 21 million infections and over 230.000 deaths. There is a daily surge of over 400000 cases and a death toll of almost 4000 a day with a 15% and above positivity rate. More than 3 million active cases are reported. Experts predict that the rate of infections will continue rising for another two to three weeks. The true numbers of cases and deaths are likely to be higher than the official numbers provided by authorities, with many people avoiding testing or struggling to access it. Many deaths in rural areas also go unregistered. Testing is increasing, but so too are the number of positive results. The warnings from scientists and medical experts are alarming. A third wave is also predicted with more and more children and youth turning vulnerable and susceptible.
Help from Abroad
Help is pouring into India from more than 120 countries abroad including the USA, Germany, France and many of the EU countries. Oxygen Plants and many other necessary equipment are being airlifted on a daily basis. The Indian Railways have started the so-called Oxygen Express to bring oxygen to all corners of the country.
The poor suffer most
The second wave of the pandemic has once again exposed the poorest of the poor in India to the frightening scenario of thousands of families going hungry and unable to care for their children. Once again strict lockdowns are being enforced all over the country. Twenty-three percent of India’s population is estimated to be below the poverty line. Another twenty percent is considered to be the lower middle class. Hence 40 percent of India’s population is condemned to live a life of hand-to-mouth existence. This forty percent of India’s total population of 1.4 billion is a huge segment of over five hundred million people who are pushed into abject poverty due to loss of daily jobs and livelihood. Millions of children in India may never return to the schools as their families struggle to survive in the face of hunger and disease.
Covid-Care by the Fransalians
Along with the Church in India and many other social organizations, the Fransalians are in the forefront of bringing solace and comfort to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. The Missionaries of Saint Francis de Sales as a major religious congregation has been extending whole-hearted support and collaboration to the local civil administrations in all their efforts to bring the pandemic under control as well as to render immediate help to the most needy people.
Most of the schools and institutions run by the Fransalians are made available as isolation wards. PPE (personal protection equipment) Kits and masks are provided to the frontline health workers free of cost. The school buses are made available for mobile clinics and for emergency transport needs. A good number of children who have lost their parents are given food and shelter in the Children’s Homes run by the Fransalians.
Covid-Care by Vikasjyothi
Vikasjyothi as the Mission Procure of the Fransalians has initiated a program of Covid-Care for the most needy families in all the Fransalian Missions in Karnataka and Kerala. There are families who have lost the only earning member. There are others who lost their jobs and livelihood. There are others who have no means of giving medical treatment to their sick members. The Fransalians have over 20 Mission Centres in Karnataka and Kerala. Vikasjyothi Covid Care is reaching out to 500 families in distress with a cash transfer of a minimum basic amount for their sustenance during these difficult times.
Appeal for Donations
The main source of funding for Vikasjyothi is the Agape Group known as Freundeskreis der Fransalianer based at Moembris in Kahlgrund, Germany. Our funds are very limited. We are doing whatever is possible.
Through this issue of Agape I would like to make an earnest appeal to all our friends and well-wishers to make a gesture of solidarity with your contributions so that we can reach out to many more families in distress and ameliorate their sufferings in this most difficult times. India as a nation is gasping for breath. The failure of the public health system is indeed a suffocating scenario. The Covid Crisis in India is now a national disaster.
As for me, personally I am well and totally confined to the house. More than 15 of my brother-priests have been Covid positive. All of them have recovered well. At the national level, the Church in India has lost more than 40 priests and two bishops due to Covid. Churches are shut. Schools are closed. The nation is once again brought to a standstill. The economy is bound to suffer badly. There is much anger, anguish, frustration and helplessness all around.
Dear Friends, I would like to thank you one and all for your support and solidarity in this very critical time. Let us be united in prayer and hope for some better times ahead.
Greetings and good wishes to all of you.
P. Thomas, MSFS
- Written by Dr. Thomas Cherukat
Greetings from India
Dear Friends of the Fransalians,
I wish to greet each one of you with the peace and joy of Jesus Christ, the greatest healer and Saviour of humankind and of the whole creation. Covid-19, the pandemic that has enveloped the entire world continues to inflict great suffering to humanity with the ever increasing number of infections and large numbers of deaths. There is much fear, anxiety, uncertainty and helplessness attached to this unprecedented global crisis. Scientists, medical experts and the world leaders are all working tirelessly to put an end to this ever worsening pandemic. As ordinary citizens we can only wish and pray that the united efforts of the medical and political community at the global level may soon find an effective remedy to arrest this pandemic at the earliest.
The world is fighting an INVISIBLE enemy. It is certainly an opportunity and a challenge for the whole of humanity to pause a while and turn its attention more closely than ever to the ONE INVISIBLE ULTIMATE REALITY, the ALMIGHTY GOD, the CREATOR of the universe who willed that the entire creation be sustained and protected with the due respect and constant care that it deserves. We, the humans have a unique place in the universe as the crown of creation with a specific mandate of caring, nurturing and maintaining its wholeness and integrity. Unscrupulous and indiscriminate exploitation of nature by humans for selfish ends have caused deep wounds to the mother earth. Undue profiteering leads to destruction of nature and accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of a few at the cost of the poor and the needy. A bleeding creation is groaning for its pristine beauty and wholeness as its author has intended it to be. It is the need of the hour that the humankind and the entire creation acknowledge its total dependence on its Creator. The INVISIBLE God makes himself VISIBLE through His creation. The present crisis therefore calls for a renewal of our faith in a transcendent God who governs the entire cosmos and its destiny.
We, Christians believe that God is a loving Father who sent his only Son Jesus Christ with a mission of salvation, liberation and the wholeness of the created universe. As good stewards of the world’s resources, it is our primary responsibility to conscientise ourselves adequately of the urgent need to work for the preservation of a sustainable ecological balance and oppose anything that destroys nature and environment. Covid-19 challenges us more than ever to re-visit the gospel values that Jesus preached and taught for the salvation and liberation of humanity.
Impact of Covid 19 in India
India with its 1,3 billion population has been fighting the Covid 19 with all the necessary precautions. A nationwide lockdown was imposed continuously for a period of 70 days causing immense sufferings to people all across the country. The worst affected is the poorest of the poor. Millions of migrant daily-wage labourers lost their jobs and livelihood. Twenty-three per cent of India’s population is known to be below the poverty line. Another 20 per cent of the population falls under the so-called lower middle class considered to be just above the poverty line. The pandemic has struck these two segments of people mercilessly pushing them to abject poverty. The Fransalian Missions across India are in the forefront bringing solace and comfort to a large number of such displaced and needy people. India is facing a huge challenge to arrest the surging numbers of infected cases and deaths in recent weeks. In spite of the pandemic our missions in India and in Chad-Cameroon continue to serve the people in whatever manner possible.
Over 600 children in India and 150 children in Chad-Cameroon are supported by the efforts of Agape Afrika in Germany and Vikasjyothi in India. I would like to make an earnest appeal to all our friends and benefactors to introduce this project to friends and well-wishers and enlist them to support our programme of “ Schuelerpatenschaften” so that we can reach out to many more deserving children and help them to have a proper education. Providing clean and safe drinking water to the far-flung villages in Chad is a major concern of our missionaries. With your support and collaboration we hope to continue this project without any interruption. I wish one and all good health, much joy and peace in these difficult times. Take Care. Stay safe. God bless.
P. Thomas Cherukat, MSFS
Greetings from Chad-Cameroon
My dear Confreres and Friends of the Fransalians,
Fraternal greetings of love and good wishes from the Missionaries of Saint Francis de Sales working in the Chad and Cameroon. The pandemic Covid 19 has brought great suffering and sorrow to the entire world. Lockdowns and confinements are the order of the day. Every crisis offers us new opportunities. The pandemic is providing us an opportunity to re-capture the contemplative dimension of our Christian faith and spirituality.
Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa including Cameroon and Chad were ill-prepared to address the devastating impacts of COVID-19. The fragile health systems and abject poverty in most countries make it all the more difficult to provide immediate relief to the infected and to prevent the spread of the virus. Cameroon is now the COVID-19 epicentre in west-central Africa. Despite the early measures taken by the Government to isolate initial cases the virus has now entered the community.
Many developmental works and health care projects in our missions have suffered much under the continued onslaught of the pandemic. Chad and Cameroon in recent times have been reeling under some of the worst humanitarian crisis due to the separatist movement in the Anglophone regions of the western Cameroon and the constant threats posed by the terrorist group Boko Haram in Chad. Unfortunately these do not get sufficient international attention. The COVID-19 pandemic is yet another challenge that these countries are facing and looking eagerly for help from the international community. As of now, thanks be to God, all of us Fransalians are free from the virus. There are many Covid-positive cases around us. Our missionaries are trying their best to bring relief to the people affected.
I thank each one of you for your love and concern for the people in these countries. With your help and support we are able to bring some solace and comfort to the thousands of people entrusted to our care in the missions. I wish and pray that all of you stay safe and find the strength to face up to this unprecedented crisis with deep faith and equanimity. May God bless you all.
P. Manoj Arackal, MSFS
OUR SCHOOLS IN CHAD AND CAMEROON
Republic of Chad is one of the most poverty-stricken countries in the world. The country is also facing political instability due to the constant threat of terrorist groups from outside as well as the internal strife with frequent strikes and protests. Education is one of the priorities of our Fransalian Missions in Chad. Due to the Covid-19 all our schools are under lockdown until October 2020. We have now four schools and two children’s homes in Chad. We have yet another school at Ngaoundere in north Cameroon.
Saint Francois de Sales Primary School at Bero
SFS Primary school, Béro is a beacon of hope for the hundreds of children who walk many miles to reach the school daily. To help the very needy children from very far away villages, a children’s home with 45 children is attached to this school. The school has been beaming with life and activity with an enrolment of 284 students for the academic year 2019-20. This small school is indeed a great boon to the entire region helping to shape the life and destiny of many poor and talented children.
Saint François de Sales Educational Complex at GAKI
This project at Gaki in the outskirts of Doba was inaugurated on 15 January 2018. The main objective of creating this educational complex is to impart quality education with an integral human formation based on Christian values. In the current academic year of 2019 – 2020 there are 156 students both boys and girls. Thirty-five of them are housed in the children’s home attached to the school. We plan to add a higher grade each year in the primary and secondary cycles. The future of this educational institution looks quite bright. We are grateful to all those who support us spiritually and financially towards the full realization of this project.
St. Daniel Comboni Primary School at Doba
This is a school started by the Comboni Missionaries and a few years ago entrusted to the Fransalians. The school has now 355 students with 9 teaching staff. Hundreds of students from Doba and around have received their initial education through this school.
St. Daniel Comboni High School at Doba
This school was also started by the Comboni Missionaries as a Higher Primary School. The Fransalians have added the High School section with sufficient infrastructure constructed recently. The School has now a strength of 439 students. The school is located in a central place in Doba town and caters to many children from the migrant families.
Saint François de Sales School at Ngaoundere in North Cameroon
The Saint François de Sales School in Ngaoundéré is in the fifth year of its existence. The school has now two buildings. The kindergarten is housed in one of the buildings consisting of two classrooms, a store and an office. There are two teachers and one support staff. The school is in urgent need of play areas with a standard safety barrier and a security guard. We are looking forward to your help and support so that we can complete these works.
The primary school has a spacious building with 12 class rooms, office rooms and staff room. In the current academic year there are 286 children. The school located in a prime locality on a beautiful hillock overlooking the Ngaoundere town has all the potential to become the best educational institution in the entire North Cameroon Region. With the support and encouragement of our friends and benefactors we hope to help this institution to its full stature in the near future.
- Written by Dr. Thomas Cherukat
Greetings from India
Dear Friends of the Fransalians,
The year 2020 is coming to an end. It is an year that has brought the global human family to its knees because of the ever raging Covid-19 pandemic. The whole of humanity is in deep distress. The frequent lockdowns and innumerable restrictions have disrupted normal life causing untold sufferings to all sections of people all over the world. The ever surging numbers of corona infections and the alarming increase in the rate of deaths on a daily basis has brought about an unprecedented crisis of trust and confidence. The enormity of the sufferings inflicted on the poorest of the poor is beyond description. The major economies of the world are crumbling. Social life is in disarray. There is much fear, anxiety, uncertainty and helplessness in all spheres of life. We are painfully made aware that the dawn of the new year 2021 does not promise a sudden return of normal life to the pre-Covid times. We feel condemned to be contented with a new life-style better known as “the new normal”.
it is with a deep sense of mixed feelings that I write these lines to wish each one of you the joy, peace and serenity of Christmas in the midst of a prolonged pandemic that is playing much havoc in the lives of all of us. We are in an unprecedented Advent Season looking forward to celebrate Christmas and prepare the way of the Lord and to usher in a New Year of hope and promise. During this Christmas our thoughts are with the little Babe in the manger of Bethlehem. The birth of Jesus that we celebrate at Christmas happened in a most insecure and hostile environment. A helpless baby was born into a crisis situation characterized by fear, anxiety, uncertainty and helplessness. Advent 2020 is urging us to prepare ourselves for a new way of life, a change of heart for the new year 2021.
Christmas 2020 challenges us to make a journey of faith with the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Our faith in God begins when we realize that we are not self-sufficient. Faith continues to grow and bloom in us when we realize that we need healing, liberation and salvation. As the world is fighting an invisible enemy we have an opportunity to fix our gaze on the invisible God who made himself visible in Jesus who alone can bring the healing touch to a deeply wounded world. Let me wish each one of you a Blessed Advent and a grace-filled Christmas. May the New Year 2021 be an year of grace and healing for all of us and for the entire world.
Covid-19 in India
India with its huge population of over 1,4 billion is having the second highest number of Covid cases in the world. In recent days the corona infections in India has crossed 9 million with more than 130.000. All major cities in India are in deep trouble struggling to contain the pandemic. Millions of daily laborers have lost their jobs and livelihoods. The vast majority of families in the lower middle class are in great distress. Most of the educational institutions remain closed. Home schooling and online classes remain the privilege of only a few who can afford them. Children are the most vulnerable who are deprived of proper food and shelter as their parents remain jobless.
The Missionaries of Saint Francis de Sales is one of the major religious congregations in India actively involved in a number of relief works to alleviate the sufferings of the poorest of the poor through their existing network of Frnsalian Social Service Centres across the country. Thousands of poor families have been helped with the timely intervention of supplying food packets and medical kits to the most disadvantaged people.
Families in Distress
As an immediate response to the Covid crisis in the two states of Karnataka and Kerala, Vikasjyothi which is the Mission Development Office of the South West India Province has been able to help hundreds of poor families in our missions with sustenance and financial assistance especially for the education of the poor children. With the help received from Agape Africa in Germany and from friends and benefactors in India and several countries abroad, we have been able to increase the number of scholarships granted to poor children both in Africa and in India. Over 1000 poor children and their families in Africa and India are given timely financial assistance to withstand the unexpected financial crisis that many families are facing. We are urgently in need of more funds to help the ever increasing appeals for help from families in distress.
I would like to conclude this note by making an urgent appeal to all of you. Kindly give a thought to the poor children in India and in Chad-Cameroon in Africa when you want to make a gesture of love and sharing during this Christmas. Your contribution can bring much joy to a poor home in the distant villages of India and Africa. We the Fransalians would like to continue helping the most needy people in our service centres with the help of all of you. Covid-19 is indeed a challenge to all of us to exercise our Christian charity with greater solidarity with the poor.
I request you to introduce Agape Afrika to your friends and acquaintances and elicit their support for our projects. May God be praised. I wish and pray that all of us remain safe and secure under the loving protection of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Happy Christmas. Happy New Year.
Dr. Thomas Cherukat, MSFS
Greetings from Chad-Cameroon
My dear Friends,
Greetings of love and good wishes to each one of you from the Missionaries of Saint Francis de Sales in Chad and Cameroon. The year 2020 is marked by the Covid -19 pandemic which has brought much suffering to the whole world. The very fragile economies of Chad and Cameroon are under much strain and shock. The pandemic has hit the economies of Chad and Cameroon more seriously than the disease itself. People are struggling for their livelihood because of the unexpected economic slow-down worldwide. Most schools in Chad remain closed as the teachers are not paid their salaries.
The year 2020 is also marked by a great variety of positive developments for the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales in Chad and Cameroon. We had the joy of hosting a Meeting of the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of Cameroon at our house in Nogya from 5 -10 January 2020. The Mission has also witnessed a steady growth in the number of candidates and novices. We are blessed with 13 novices this year. All our ongoing projects are being implemented though at a low pace due to the Covid situation.
Help the Homeless
We have initiated a new project known as “ Help the Homeless”. A few houses are being constructed for the poor who have no shelter. This is an ongoing project which involves a lot of finance. We hope to make appeals to our friends and benefactors to help us realize this most worthy project in the coming few years.
Our Schools in Chad
The Chad-Cameroon Mission is now managing 4 schools in the diocese of Doba. Nearly 200 poor children are being supported every year for their education through the “sponsor a child” program of Viskasjyothi, Mysore in India. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions made by Agape Afrika in Germany animated by Fr. Thomas Cherukat, MSFS. A well-built Children’s Home at Doba has been made functional. This academic year we have 50 children in this home. We gratefully acknowledge the support given by Agape Austria animated by Fr. Sen Vellakada, MSFS. The Congregation has acquired a piece of land for the construction of a school and Children’s Home at Moundou, a neighbouring diocese of Doba. Our schools in Bero and Doba remain closed due to the Covid-19 situation. We hope for better times in the years ahead.
Our School in Cameroon
There are 340 students enrolled in 6 classes at SFS School at Ngaoundere in North Cameroon this academic year. On an average there are 55 pupils per class. Though the demand for admission is very high, we are not able to admit more children due to lack of class rooms. Construction of more class rooms are envisaged for the coming year. We plan to upgrade the school to a high school and higher secondary level. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions received from many generous benefactors towards this project including the continued support given by the Pfarrei Frieden Christi in Munich, Germany.
It is with a sense of deep gratitude to God and to all our friends and benefactors that we look back at the passing year 2020. We have been the humble instruments of God’s mercy and compassion to build up lives, strengthen and support them and to lighten their heavy burden wherever we could.
Drinking Water Projects
This project is aimed at making potable water available to the remote villages and to prevent deadly diseases like malaria, typhoid, diarrhea and jaundice. This project has helped us to save so many lives in ours missions of Doba and Bero. This year we are planning to dig at least 2 wells in Bero and 1 in Doba. There are many villages waitlisted for this project. We look forward to your continued support for the realization of this project in many more villages in our missions.
We the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales in Chad and Cameroon extend to you our warmest greetings for Christmas. We hope and pray that the healing touch of Jesus Christ will transform the lives of each of us. We extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to all who have contributed to the growth of our Mission over the past 20 years. Your prayers and support strengthen us in our resolve to work for the poor and needy. It is my wish that all of you be blessed with joy, peace and hope. Stay safe. God bless.
Fr. Manoj Xavier Arackal MSFS
- Written by Dr. Thomas Cherukat
Greetings from India
Dear friends of the Fransalians,
Christmas is essentially a celebration of love, peace and joy. It is a celebration of the Love of God for the entire humanity and for the whole of creation. The birth of Jesus Christ as the Incarnate Son of God has brought us the GOOD NEWS that God cares for all of us. As children of God all of us are destined to experience the joy of being loved by God and by each other. The celebration of Christmas highlights this love-relationship with God and with one another. As we are in the season of Advent preparing for the great feast of Christmas we have an opportunity to renew our lives and to re-commit ourselves for peace and harmony in the world.
Millions of people in many parts of the world continue to suffer from hunger and poverty mainly due to the unjust distribution of wealth and opportunities. The poor are condemned to a life-long deprivation mainly due to the frequent outbreaks of wars and conflicts followed by mass migration and displacements.
The Message from the helpless baby born into a manger in Bethlehem challenges all of us to come out of our own comfort zones and reach out to those who suffer deprivation, exploitation and oppression. Let this Christmas and the New Year be a new beginning for all of us with a solemn resolve to reach out to the poorest of the poor by sharing our time and resources with the needy until it really hurts. I wish each one of you a Very Happy Christmas and a Bright New Year.
I am very grateful to all of you for your regular support and encouragement for our work among the the poor in Africa and in India. Our Mission in Chad and Cameroon is a shining example of God’s providential care for those who are at the side of the poor. The Mission has grown very rapidly in recent years and now in its full bloom promising a great future for thousands of people who may be lifted out of extreme poverty and illiteracy. I am in constant contact with our Mission in Chad and Cameroon through our project office of Vikasjyothi in Mysore. The “Projekt Schuelerpatenschaft” is the main activity of Vikasjyothi right now. More than 50 new sponsors have been found this year. A total of 650 children are being helped. Many more are on the waiting list. In India a large number of children and women from the marginalised sections of society are being helped through our educational and social development activities. A number of new projects in view of empowering the rural women have been initiated recently. May I therefore appeal to all of you to support these projects by finding new sponsors or donors so that we can reach out to many more deserving children and women. May the compassionate and merciful love of Jesus fill your hearts with joy and peace.
P. Thomas Cherukat, MSFS
Greetings from Chad–Cameroon
My dear Friends and Benefactors,
Greetings of peace and joy to each one of you from the Missionaries of Saint Francis de Sales in Chad and Cameroon. We wish you all a very happy Christmas and a grace-filled and joyful New Year. In the words of Pope Francis: “ We accompany and follow Jesus as we know that He accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders. This is our joy, this is our hope that we must bring to this world of ours”. May this Christmas be an occasion for us to share our joy and hope especially with the suffering humanity.
The year 2019 has been an year of blessings for our mission in Chad and Cameroon. We have been able to successfully complete the extension of our school at Ngaoundere in North Cameroon. The construction of the SFS Boys’ Home at Doba is nearing completion. The pastoral and developmental activities in all our 8 mission centres are progressing well. We have a good number of seminarians in both our Formation Houses at Ngoya and Ngaoundere. They are the hope for the future of this ever growing mission.
Our Mission in Buea in the Anglophone province of South-West Cameroon has been going through very hard times due to the prolonged political unrest in the region. More than 3000 people have lost their lives in the raging civil war. Over half a million people are displaced. More than a million people are in need of humanitarian aid. Our confreres and the people in Buea live constantly under fear and anxiety. We hope and pray that peace and harmony will soon return to this war-torn region.
My sincere thanks to each one of you for your constant support and encouragement for our work in this remote region. We are grateful to you for your prayers and friendship and for your financial support . We do pray for you and for your intentions. May the good Lord bless you and all your concerns.
P. Manoj Arackal, MSFS
THE ONGOING PROJECTS IN CHAD AND CAMEROON
Education is a priority in all our missions. Illiteracy and ignorance are the two major obstacles for development especially in Chad and in North Cameroon. Hence we are running five schools in these regions. The SFS School at Ngaoundere and the SFS School at Doba are the two ongoing projects for which we need further financial support. At present there are 352 children attending the school at Ngaoundere. This year we have been able to construct 7 more class rooms to the existing building. The newly started school at Doba is now equipped with a Kindergarten and a primary school. At present there 156 children in this school. We appeal to your generosity for further financial assistance towards this important project.
Most of the children in the far-flung villages are not able to attend a school due to lack of roads and transport. We have therefore started two hostels or boys’ homes where children from the villages are given facilities to attend our schools. Over 70 children from the economically backward families are given the facility of board and lodge at our Boys’ Homes in Chad namely in Bero and in Doba. The Mission is also helping a large number of girl children with a scholarship for their education.
The ‘’ Sponsor a Child Program” initiated by Agape a few years ago is currently helping over 150 children in Chad and Cameroon besides helping many more in other parts of Africa and in India. At present this program is catering to over 650 children from our missions in Africa and India. We request your continued help and support for this project.
Acute scarcity of clean and safe drinking water is a major health issue in all our missions. The diseases such as malaria, typhoid and cholera are quite rampant in the region. It has been therefore a major concern in all our missions to facilitate access to clean drinking water to the villages. In Chad we have been able to provide the people with a number of open wells with clean and safe water at a depth of 35 to 40 metres. These wells are provided with a protective wall and safety net around them besides a hand-pump. A large number of the village population is now having easy access to clean water and there is a noticeable decrease in the number of infant mortalities in these villages. An open well in a village in Chad will cost a little over Euro 500 only. In recent months we have been able to dig two such open wells in two villages in Bero namely Missimadji and Sindalolo. We thank our good benefactors who generously contribute towards these projects. In North Cameroon we cannot go for open wells. We need to have bore holes which cost around Euro 4000/- So far we have been able to provide over 22 wells in Chad and North Cameroon where hundreds of people are benefiting from this project. With more support from our friends and benefactors we hope to extend this project to many more villages.
A Project for the Empowerment of Rural Women in India
The newly started garment-making unit at Karehalli in the outskirts of the megacity Bangalore is a project aimed at job creation for the rural women. In recent years, the agricultural sector in India has been going through a deep crisis leading many farmers to despair to the extent that the suicide rate among farmers is alarmingly high. A cluster of villages around Karehalli near Bangalore has been chosen for this new project. Most of the 1278 households in these villages belong to the category of “below poverty line”. It is the womenfolk in these villages who suffer most due to illiteracy and unemployment and the prolonged agrarian distress. The project envisages to provide employment opportunities for the rural women in the area. More than fifty women have undergone training in the first phase and they are already employed and production of garments chiefly the school uniforms have started. Training of new batches of women and production of garments will continue simultaneously. During the period of training the women are given a stipend besides a matching amount of remuneration until they are able to earn a decent salary. The project is highly appreciated by the people in the area. We are now looking for some financial support to provide the trainees a modest stipend at least for the initial one year. Your contribution towards this worthy cause will be much appreciated.
- Written by Dr. Thomas Cherukat
Greetings from India
Dear Friends of Fransalians,
Greetings and good wishes to each one of you from Mysore. On 30 July 2019 I am turning 70. I thank God Almighty for the gift of life that I have received from Him and the many blessings He has showered on me during the past 70 years of my life and 44 years as a priest. It is my wish and prayer that Jesus who called me to be a priest and missionary all these years will continue to help me to work for the poor and needy so that “they may have life and life in abundance”. (Jn.10.10) On this occasion I wish to express my deep sentiments of joy and gratitude to all of you for your continued friendship, affection and support for me and for my work in the missions.
It was in the year 2005 that the Freundeskreis der Fransalianer was founded at Moembris/Kahlgrund in Germany. Today the Freundeskreis consists of around 40 registered members who have always been very close to me and actively involved in mobilising support for our work in the missions especially in Chad and Cameroon. I am very much indebted to each one of them. Besides the registered members of the Freundeskreis we have over 200 well-wishers and benefactors who contribute regularly in support of our various projects in the missions. I am indeed very grateful to each one of them for their love and concern towards the poorest of the poor in our missions in Africa and in India.
I hope to make a visit to Europe from 1st July till the end of August 2019 chiefly to take up a parochial representation in South Tyrol in Italy. I am looking forward to the joy of meeting at least some of you in person during my visits in Germany, Austria and Italy.
OUR PRIORITIES IN CHAD AND CAMEROON
The ongoing educational projects in our missions of Chad and Cameroon are indeed a great blessing for a large number of people in Chad and Cameroon who are otherwise deprived of the opportunity for basic quality education. Bringing education to the poorest has always been the our prime concern of the Fransalians. At present the Fransalians are managing five important schools: 4 in Chad and 1 in Cameroon. All the five schools are of recent origin and they are yet to be fully developed. We have also 2 Boys’ Homes in Chad, one in Doba and another in Bero. I am happy to give here below a few details on each of them.
- SFS School Ngaoundéré in North Cameroon, started in the year 2015 has 268 children in 7 classes. We need to upgrade this school with 9 more class rooms. A compound wall and a playground are also urgent needs.
- St. Francis de Sales School Doba, Chad, started in the year 2018 has 72 children in 2 classes. We need to construct a few more class rooms in the coming year. A compound wall is also a must.
- St. Francis de Sales School Bero, Chad, started in the year 2004 has 246 children in 7 classes. A compound wall is the immediate need.
- St. Daniel Upper Primary School Doba, Chad, started in the year 2004 has 385 children in 8 classes.
- St. Daniel High School, Doba, Chad started in the year 2014 has 615 children in 17 classes. Construction of an administrative block is the immediate need.
- S.F.S. Boys’ Home, Bero, started in 2008 has 43 inmates. Construction of a separate block with a study hall and recreation hall is an urgent need.
- S.F.S. Boys’ Home, Doba, started in 2018 has 15 inmates. Need to complete the ongoing construction.
Over 1500 children of whom around 700 are girls receive quality education through the above schools. The number of children is expected to swell in the coming years as and when we have the necessary infrastructure in place. At present 45 teachers are employed in these schools.
Thanks to the generosity of some of our benefactors in Germany, the villages of Missimadji and Sindalolo under the Bero Mission in Chad have been fortunate to get regular supply of clean and safe drinking water through the 2 wells dug recently. The people are indeed very grateful to the benefactors who have made it possible. This is an ongoing project in Chad and North Cameroon. During the past few years we have been able to provide more than 20 wells to the far-flung villages of Bero and Doba. We are looking forward to friends and benefactors to help us continue this project without interruption. Our sincere thanks to all our donors.
The ongoing program of sponsorships continues to benefit a large number of poorest children in Chad and Cameroon. This program was started in 2014 under the Amisales in Rome. After my return to India, the program is brought under Vikasjyothi in Mysore which operates in close collaboration with the Amisales. Together with Amisales over 800 poor children in India and Africa are helped through partial scholarship every year. In the past one year Vikasjyothi alone has been able to make a significant contribution towards the education of the poor children mainly from Chad and Cameroon and from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand States in India. We have been able to grant partial scholarships to over 250 children from Karnataka and Kerala besides the 150 children supported in our Chad-Cameroon Mission. We are looking forward to more friends and benefactors to help us to expand this program and reach out to many more poor children both in India and in Africa. We are grateful to all those who have accepted the sponsorships and for their regular contributions towards this cause. Thank you one and all.
Flood relief in South India
I am very grateful to all those who have responded to my appeal for help towards the relief works in South India in the aftermath of the severe floods that hit the three southern states of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamilnadu. The Fransalians in the three States are actively involved in the relief and reconstruction works. Twenty houses are being built in Kerala for the poorest and 14 damaged houses in Karnataka are repaired or renovated. Cash contributions were sent towards relief activities in Tamilnadu. Vikasjyothi along with Amisales in Rome has been able to make a contribution of Euro 12.000 towards the Common Relief Fund of the Fransalians in Bangalore. Sincere thanks to all those who have contributed towards this project. God bless.
Thomas Cherukat, MSFS
Greetings from Chad-Cameroon
Dear friends and well wishes,
Greetings of peace and joy to each one of you all from the Chad Cameroon Mission of the Fransalians. I am very happy to be in touch with you through the Agape Newsletter. We the Fransalians in Chad-Cameroon Mission wish to express our sincere thanks and appreciation for all what you are for us. Your prayers and financial support for our projects strengthen us in our work for the poor people in the remote missions of Chad and Cameroon.
I am happy to inform you that all our projects and programs are going on well in spite of the frequent attacks of diseases like malaria and typhoid which are quite rampant in the region. Political and civil strife in certain sectors of the two countries are quite alarming and a constant cause for fear and anxiety.
Trusting in God and supported by so many generous people from within and outside we the Fransalians are moving ahead with great hope and optimism. The five educational institutions we have started in recent years are growing from strength to strength. They are truly the beacon of hope for the many future generations. The two children’s homes and the ongoing drinking water project in Chad provide the much needed support and hope for the poor.
Our mission suffered a heavy loss when one of our young students in theology suddenly passed away. Brother Emmanuel Cyrille, a Cameroonian student was diagnosed with cancer and died on 26th March 2019. He was only 30 years old and was due for priestly ordination in the year 2021. It has been a great shock for the entire mission. May his soul rest in peace.
We thank you dear friends and well-wishers for your prayers, support and encouragement in our missionary journey. May the Spirit of God bind us together with a strong bond of love and affection. We look forward to your continued support for our work in the missions and we promise our prayers for you and for your near and dear ones.
Fr. Manoj Xavier Arackal, MSFS