- 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.