- 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.