Wednesday, June 8, 2011
My list of involvement here in Africa rolls on. Fr. Francis has submitted my services to the local Caritas organization here in Makeni. Taken from their strategy plan, here’s a synopsis of what Caritas is:
“Caritas Makeni is the relief and development agency of the Diocese of Makeni in Sierra Leone’s northern province. Caritas Makeni supports the efforts of disadvantaged and less privileged people in Sierra Leone to promote their own development, irrespective of creed, tribe, gender or race. Throughout Sierra Leone’s conflict (1991-2001), Caritas Makeni was the lead child protection agency of the province, facilitating the reintegration of child soldiers into their communities. The agency continues to work with child soldiers, and other war-affected youth, through trauma counseling, community peace-building programs, and supporting young people to develop and enhance skills that will help provide sustainable livelihoods.”
I will be editing some of the documents that the director is readying for submission to various grant organizations, such as the World Bank and UNICEF (remember those little boxes from elementary school?) Catholic Relief Services is one of their sister agencies and they both collaborate to put the Gospel vision to work here in Sierra Leone. Their joint project within Makeni includes the Life Skills center, comparable to one of our neighborhood recreation centers (but a somewhat new and revolutionary concept here), so I will scratch my itch for youth ministry there very soon. The director said that he would also send me on “field trips” to see what work Caritas currently is performing beyond the town borders.
Far from simply providing handouts, the over-arching goal of both organizations is to get the poor and marginalized on their feet. I am a witness to the fact that both Caritas and CRS are working as best as they can to train and the people here and leave them with sustainable development. It is beyond humbling to read some of the documents I’m being shown, especially first-hand accounts of women raped by rebel soldiers and the staggering statistic that the life expectancy here in Sierra Leone is 38.
It’s enough to make one feel quite helpless. But to paraphrase Blessed Mother Teres: if we cannot feed one hundred people, then we just need to feed one. And if I can end on an irreverant note: if we cannot smash one hundred mosquitoes, then we just need to smash one.