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Don Bosco Matadi - Monrovia

Home for the young


First of all we would like to thank Don Angel Fernandez Artime, our Rector Major, for his closeness to us in these difficult times we are facing due to the Ebola outbreak in our sub-region.

We would like to share with you some news about the general situation in our four countries (Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone) and the steps Salesians are taking in order to face this crisis.

First of all we have to state with gratitude that all Salesians are in good health and highly motivated, with a deep desire to remain close to the people and putting our creativity, energy and resources together to offer relief to those who are suffering and to prevent as much as we can the spread of the infection through education.

The number of reported fatalities up today is 1,229 people out of 2,240 reported cases. In the last three days there have been 84 deaths. The general feeling is that numbers are higher. But it is also important to highlight the fact that there are several people who survived the infection and are fully recovering. It is a sign of hope: Ebola is not an inexorable death sentence.

What is clear is that the Ebola pandemic is not only a “health issue” for us at this moment.
It is much more than that.

Something that is spreading as fast, or even faster, than the Ebola virus is fear and anxiety. Doctors and nurses feel afraid to report to their places of work due to the dread of contagion. The same happens with sick people. People are afraid to report to health facilities even for other sicknesses out of fear of being quarantined.
Unfortunately hospitals in many cases became places where the infection spread faster and affected more people, since at the beginning there was no consciousness of the danger and no proper equipment for a correct approach to this viral attack. Most clinics and hospital are now closed. Sick people are kept at home which increases the risk of contamination, or brought to Ebola centers where the main purpose is to isolate and the hope of recovery is minimal.

The consequences of the pandemic are emotional, social, economic and moral and affect deeply the daily life of everybody.  

Sierra Leone and Liberia are the countries which were caught completely unprepared to face the Ebola crisis. Unfortunately, these countries are now called “Ebola countries”. Air companies have cancelled their flights to and from Liberia and Sierra Leone. This move was strongly criticized by the head of the World Health Organization, as it can be seen in the twitter that immediately followed such decision: ‘WHO disappointed when airlines stop flying to West Africa. Hard to save lives if we & other health workers cannot get in. #’. People, even Salesians have become “prisoners” in their own countries. No chance to go to their new placements, or back to their formation houses to continue with their studies. Another sector deeply affected is food. Food prices are on the rise and certain items are becoming scarce. The same story with disinfectants, chlorine, sanitizers and medicines. Delinquency is also on the rising. They are more cases of stealing, robberies. Monrovia, capital of Liberia is sealed. It is difficult to go out and come in.
In Sierra Leone the government is asking whether the Salesians are ready to take care of orphaned children of parents who died of Ebola. Salesians have accepted the challenge. They are now studying possibilities, resources and risks attached to such intervention. Obviously it has to be the result of a concerted effort done in network with health organizations and government agencies.  

The Salesians feel more united than ever and they speak of an experience of a true “kairos” amidst the pain and the chaos.
We have had already a provincial meeting with the provincial council the PDO and the DBYN (NGO). We have created Provincial and National task force groups to study the situation, to discern, to plan and coordinate the projects and programmes. As it was said during the meeting, we are not in the position now of finalizing long term programmes. The variants are too many and the situation is changing from morning to evening. This will be a day to day plan and action till when the overall situation gets more stabilized.

The concern and care of the RM and the interest of our Mission Procures and NGOs in offering help has been great from the first moment of the crises and continue to be so. However, we do not want to rush in getting help. We think that it is not only a matter of receiving funds in cash and kind. Movements and gatherings of people are restricted in Sierra Leone and Liberia (summer camps, classes, gathering –even one priestly ordination- have been all suspended). We believe that now we have to be close to the people, accompanying youth and families in their anxieties and grief. Our mission is to continue announcing the Gospel of joy and hope; to do as much as we can in the field of education and prevention. In Ghana we have already prepared videos, audios, posters, fliers, stickers, banners, bill boards to instruct the people. We have presented all these materials for approval to the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service. We are contacting all mobile networks to start a massive campaign through mobile phones (txt messages).

There are so many signs of hope and heroism amidst the flood of bad news: young people going to remote villages to do prevention; doctors and nurses who risk their lives attending Ebola patients; poor people sharing the little they have with those who are poorer and feel hungry; religious ready to leave everything and to serve without counting the cost.  

Yes, it is true, we are living a ‘Kairos’ in AFW. The Lord is offering us a new opportunity to “go out” to the peripheries of suffering and to offer not only material and spiritual help to those in need but to offer our entire lives like Don Bosco. We are not heroes. We do not want to become martyrs! We also feel fear but we have the deep conviction that we have come here to become one with our people, to remain with them and to serve them.

We deeply believe that is the most beautiful way to start the bicentenary celebrations of the birth of Don Bosco; not only by printing materials, or organizing seminar and congresses about his history, pedagogy and spirituality. We would like to follow Don Bosco by offering our time, our talents, all what we have and we are to God and his people in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria.
We look at his inspiring example especially during the year 1854:

-26th January 1854: the first four young men – among them Cagliero and Rua – joined in a society ‘to make a practical work of charity towards our neighbours’, and from that day onward they will be known as ‘Salesians’.
-5th of August (feast of our Lady): Don Bosco takes a personal active involvement in answer to the cholera epidemic that struck Turin (2500 cases, 1400 death) “If any of the older ones feel like coming with me to the hospitals and home, we shall do together a work of charity and a thing very pleasing to God”.
-2nd October: first meeting with Dominic Savio.
All these events are so relevant for our charismatic history. God’s Providence led Don Bosco at that time. We ask him to accompany us 160 years later in the same path of pastoral charity that is at the heart of Salesian sanctity. “For you I’m study, for you I’m working, for you I’m ready even to give my life”.

Fr Jorge M. Crisafulli SDB
Provincial Salesians of Don Bosco
Anglophone West Africa

AFW Press release n-1 - 20.08.14





27th August, 2014 by Admin





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