- 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