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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
20 February 2018
CNEWA staff




The Snehalayam Boys Home in Kerala bears a sign, expressing gratitude to CNEWA.
(photo: CNEWA)


Last week, we received this inspiring news from M.L. Thomas, our regional director in India, with an update on a project CNEWA has supported in Kerala:

In 2017, CNEWA supported a project for renovating a so-called “smart class room” — equipped with the latest computer technology — for the Snehalayam Boys Home at the remote village of Pattikkad in the district of Thrissur in Kerala.

This home is run by the Malabar Missionary Brothers, which was founded in 1948. Now there are 90 poor children and young people there, between ages of 5 and 20. The brothers are engaged in a variety of important ministries in the area: teaching catechism, taking care of orphan boys, caring for older men who are destitute, training and teaching mentally handicapped children, providing vocational training for the unemployed youth, offering health care in rural areas, among others.

The majority of the boys at the home come from broken families; some are orphans and a few are street boys. Their parents are daily wage workers and struggling hard to maintain the families. They are unable to provide sufficient nutritious food to the children and are not capable of meeting the expenses for education. Hence, they send the children to orphanages for a chance at a better life.

The home now has a “smart class room,” with the latest computer technology, to help teach the students. (photo: CNEWA)

At the home, there are 12 computers for training the children. The smart class room is equipped with these computers and an LED projector. One of the students, Amal Jose, with training and support from the Boys Home, is learning to excel in learning English and using computers. His parents are separated. For the last five years Amal Jose is staying in this Boys Home.

The home also provides the students opportunities for higher education, such as courses in hotel management and accounting. Some of our students are attending these vocational higher degree courses.

All these facilities receive assistance from CNEWA. We are grateful to all our donors for the generous contributions to the Snehalayam Boys Home!

Below is a brief video showing some of the home. It includes a personal message of gratitude from one of the boys.




20 February 2018
CNEWA staff




The video above, from the BBC, shows the incredible trek a Coptic priest makes every day in Ethiopia, to pray in an ancient church carved into the side of a mountain. (video: BBC)



13 February 2018
CNEWA staff




Capuchin friars enter Gulele St. Francis Parish Church on 10 February to celebrate their vice-province becoming a province in Ethiopia. (photo: CNEWA)

Editor’s note: Our regional director in Addis Ababa, Argaw Fantu shared with us some joyful news about the Capuchin Friars in Ethiopia, whose vice-province last week was raised to the status of province:

The presence of Capuchin Franciscan missionaries in Ethiopia goes back to 17th century, when the first two French Capuchin missionaries, Father Agathange and Father Cassien, planted the seed of faith, and nourished it by shedding their blood and giving their lives within two days of arrival in Gondar from Egypt in 1638.

Later, the legendary Italian Capuchin, Cardinal Guglielmo Massaja (1846-1880), helped create the Oromo Vicariate in the western part of Ethiopia and expanded Catholicism in the country. In the later days, a group of French Capuchin Missionaries followed. The growth of the Catholic church and Catholic faithful is due to the presence of these missionaries who devotedly paid with their lives. These true evangelizers reached out to the remotest corners of the country — erecting churches, establishing schools, providing health services and witnessing to the faith with their simple way of life.

After decades of devoted work and growth, on 10 February the Capuchin Friars Minor Vice-Province of Mary Kidane Meheret in Ethiopia was raised to the status of Province.

The celebration took place at Gulele St. Francis Parish Church, with a Mass presided over by Cardinal Berhaneyesus D. Sourapheal, Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Ababa, attended by Msgr. Luigi Bianco, Apostolic Nuncio to Ethiopia and Djibouti, the entire local Capuchin Franciscan friars, along with other invited religious congregations.

At this stage the new Capuchin province is blessed to have 101 local ordained friars serving in the country. The order, despite some challenges, is blessed by increasing vocations. Currently, there are 21 candidates attending Philosophy and Theology at the St. Francis Institute, which is fully administered and run by same order. There are also seven postulants and 10 pre-postulants in Nazareth/Adama. The last Custos, Rev. Br. Yohannes Wossen put it well: “Simplicity and brotherhood attracts many to join us.”

Related: Head of the Class

In Ethiopia, the Capuchin Franciscans serve in eight church jurisdictions (three Eastern rite Eparchies and five Latin Rite dioceses) in 20 community houses. Besides the focus on evangelization, the Capuchins run five highly respected Catholic secondary schools in Baher Dar-Dessie Eparchy and in Soddo vicariate, along with the Abune Andreas Girls’ Home in Dire Dawa. They also run many junior and primary schools; a boarding facility for boys in Dessie; and they also support a university chaplaincy programs. One of the secondary schools — Abba Pascal Catholic Girls’ School (named after Father Pascal, a French Capuchin missionary) in southern Ethiopia in Soddo vicariate — was established for educating rural girls. Most of these services were initially located in the most remote parts of the country.

CNEWA partners with Capuchins in Ethiopia, supporting five of these remotely located schools and the Girls’ Home in Dire Dawa, thanks to our generous donors who sincerely value the services of these missionaries, who continue to witness to the faith through simple lives of evangelization.

The Capuchins continue to be moved by the charism of St. Francis, eager to share their “joy, humility and simplicity.” We’re also reminded of the words of Msgr. Angelo Pagano, Vicar Apostolic of Harar and Capuchin who said at this celebration: “Wonderful pages were written by our predecessors in evangelizing the faith in Ethiopia. They left their foot prints. But now is the time for us to write new pages for the journey before us.”

By supporting these zealous missionaries for the good of the local church in Ethiopia, let us be part of that journey before them — accompanying the local church through the efforts of the Capuchins!

Below, you can see a brief video of some of the friars joyfully singing a hymn of thanksgiving during the Mass.




13 February 2018
CNEWA staff




Celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Vincentian family. (photo: CNEWA)

Last week in Eritrea, priests, religious and lay people associated with the work of St. Vincent de Paul celebrated the 400th anniversary of the beginning of the Vincentian movement. It was in 1617 that St. Vincent began his outreach among the poor, through the Daughters of Charity. He organized wealthy women of Paris to collect funds for missionary projects — and from that humble start the Vincentian family grew into a worldwide charity.

We’re pleased to share some images from that event — along with our congratulations and prayers of thanksgiving on this wonderful occasion.

St. Vincent de Paul himself spoke movingly of service to the poor — and his spirit and charism continue to inspire Vincentians everywhere.

“You will find out that Charity is a heavy burden to carry,” he wrote, “heavier than the kettle of soup and the full basket. But you will keep your gentleness and your smile. You are the servant of the poor. Go to the poor; you will find God.”




31 January 2018
CNEWA staff




The sisters, staff and a number of volunteers prepare a meal for the 29 residents and the 50 members of the day care center at the Antonian Charitable Society in Bethlehem. CNEWA provided a grant for improvements to the society’s building that helped save money and provide water to the residents. The kitchen equipment was also donated by CNEWA. (photo: CNEWA)

Editor’s note: We were delighted to receive this note from Joseph Hazboun, regional director for Palestine and Israel, describing how a grant from CNEWA is helping a group of religious sisters care for the elderly in Bethlehem.

At the Antonian Charitable Society, Sister Caterina, responsible for the kitchen and Sister Lizy, Mother Superior, were overwhelmed with joy when the society’s large old rainwater cistern was repaired and cleaned, and made ready for the winter rainy season.

The cistern stood neglected for years and the society relied solely on Bethlehem’s water network. That could be problematic. Piped water was often shut off (due to water shortages) or made prohibitively expensive, due to price increases because of a longstanding drought. Rainwater cisterns are common in Bethlehem and other urban areas and are in fact, an ancient method developed and perfected by the Nabataeans. They began to appear in Palestinian cities during the Assyrian period. Since then, the rainwater cistern was always a practical way for locals to have access to potable water, especially in the summer months. As technology advancement and urban growth became apparent in the past half century, many Bethlehem residents and institutions moved away from these ancient practices of channeling and collecting rainwater and utilized the water system as the main source of potable water.

In recent years however, a severe drought has decreased water reserves throughout Bethlehem. Last summer, Bethlehem had a water shortage that lasted more than a month, as reserves reached all-time lows and water tanker trucks became the only method of distributing potable water.

For the Sisters at the Antonian Charitable Society, that meant their water bills were soaring last summer — far higher than what they had budgeted for. As part of CNEWA’s efforts to care for the marginalized, a grant was provided to the Sisters of the Antonian Charitable Society in 2017 to provide photovoltaic solar panels. These could generate free solar electricity to operate medical equipment, lights and kitchen appliances at the society. That grant also eliminated the society’s reliance on piped water and water supplied by trucks through the rehabilitation of the society’s old rainwater cistern. The grant also enabled the installation of hydroponic units for the kitchen to grow organic vegetables. This is an alternative method that feeds 50 elderly members and 29 women residents daily, saving much money on groceries. There is also enough water left in the cistern for household cleaning and bathing.

The sisters have expressed their gratitude to CNEWA for helping to make these practical solutions a reality — and they are especially grateful that they can continue to provide services for the elderly in Bethlehem.



30 January 2018
CNEWA staff




Thanks to a project supported by CNEWA, Wagdi Attalah is healthier and working to get his high school diploma. (photo: CNEWA)

Editor’s note: CNEWA is privileged to support numerous initiatives and institutions that serve marginalized, poor and vulnerable populations in Egypt. One such establishment, called Good Samaritan, comprises two facilities that provide care for children in need. CNEWA helps Good Samaritan centers to shelter, feed and clothe children whose parents have died or are too poor to afford these necessities. We also help share the gift of education with underserved children in areas where schools are scarce or unaffordable. Michel Constantin — our regional director in Beirut, who oversees our work in Egypt — recently shared this story of one family benefiting from these on-the-ground services.

Wagdi Attallah is 17-years-old and suffers from asthma and lung problems. His family consists of his mother and himself. Before Magdi was born, while she was pregnant, she had health complications which affected Wagdi’s present condition and requires chronic medications. His mother now suffers from many problems with her eyesight.

Their main source of income was from selling buffalo milk, but after the buffalo died, they lost that revenue and became poorer and poorer. Their house was in extremely poor condition, with just two small rooms. There was no toilet or kitchen.

Related: Egypt’s Good Samaritans

Through a project supported by CNEWA, and in collaboration with the Good Samaritan Center, we were able to improve conditions for Wagdi and his sick mother. The house was rehabilitated. A bathroom and kitchen were built, along with concrete and tiling to repair the house. We installed doors and windows and painted the walls, and also did some electrical work on the building.

Wagdi’s condition has improved dramatically. He is now studying for his diploma. We are still there to help him as needed — supporting him with assistance in his health care and education.

Thanks to the generosity of CNEWA’s donors, his future now looks much brighter.



26 January 2018
CNEWA staff




Children at St. Rita School in Zahleh, Lebanon, gather for class. (photo: CNEWA)

Editor’s note: we’re pleased to share with you this update from Michel Constantin, our regional director in Beirut, describing how CNEWA’s support for a school in Lebanon is helping young refugee children from Syria recover from the trauma of war and look forward to a better future.

Being close to the Syrian border, Zahleh and the region were a safe destination for around 2,650 Syrian refugee families. Some 2,000 Syrian Muslim refugee families found shelter in tents and 650 Christian families rented small apartments. Out of the total number, around 500 were children — the main victims of the war in Syria.

Dozens of Syrian children were screened by the Greek Catholic Archbishopric Social Center to be out of schools in Zahle; they were at risk of becoming a lost generation, along with nearly 80 vulnerable Lebanese host community children. They had been enrolled in school but had learning weaknesses that made them at risk of dropping out of school.

For this reason, the Greek Catholic Archbishopric of Zahleh approached CNEWA for help. We were able to provide assistance during the academic year in remedial classes (Arabic, French, English and mathematics lessons), psychosocial support and summer school. Children were taken out on trips to discover new places in Lebanon, enjoying a more carefree time, with the hope of releasing the stress of their daily lives.

Initially, St. Rita School provided regular classes to Lebanese children in the morning shift. As the needs rose, it was decided to use the location to provide remedial classes in the afternoon shifts for the Syrians, along with tutorial classes to some Lebanese who were at risk of dropping out of school.

A student at St. Rita works on his classwork. (photo: CNEWA)

Below is the account of one student who benefited from this arrangement, sent to us by the school’s director, Zeina Aamoury:

Lea, a 10-year-old Syrian girl in the 5th grade, has been enrolled in Saint Rita School since 2016.

Ever since Lea was four-years-old, and still living in Syria, she would wake her mother up early in the mornings, wanting to go to school. Lea would literally cry when told by her mother to go back to sleep. The family circumstances were difficult; along with her mother, Lea lived with her father, who worked as a laborer in wall painting, and her brother Elias, who is three years younger, all sharing a tiny house with two rooms in Syria. Unfortunately her father spent his money on drinking and gambling.

Lea’s mother tried her best to ensure that her children lived peacefully. She wanted to create a nice family atmosphere for her husband and children, and never stopped praying to God to give her strength to endure this hardship. But it took a toll on her. Eventually, she became weary and got very sick. To add to her misery, in 2011 when the war broke out in Syria, the family had to flee the country seeking refuge in Lebanon.

But in Lebanon, life was still difficult. The father continued drinking and gambling.

Since the family became refugees in Zahleh, they received assistance from different social charity organizations. They lived in one room which was furnished by the mother’s relatives.

During the last academic year (2016-2017) when St. Rita School offered afternoon remedial classes for the Syrian children, Lea was the first student to register.

At the beginning, it was very difficult for her to adjust and to adapt to new methods of learning; in Syria all materials were taught in Arabic, while in Lebanon our core education is based on foreign languages. As school staff and teachers, we try our best to overcome all these obstacles to ensure that the refugee students attending the remedial classes are supported on both levels educationally and socially. We are fully aware of their hardships: losing all their belongings, having their houses completely demolished, living in a strange country and wondering all the time whether they will ever return to Syria.

But for Lea, the classes and supportive environment made a world of difference. Her life took a new turn. She amazed her teachers with her dedication and good work. She showed huge interest in her education and astonished all her teachers and administrators when she asked them to cover a two-year program in one year — and she completed her year successfully!

Lea is determined to study hard — to be part of the generation who will restore her beautiful homeland, Syria. She strongly believes that if it weren’t for the efforts exerted by all those who are helping her and hundreds other refugee children to study and follow their education in Lebanon, she would have lost her future for sure. Instead, she now has the chance to dream and hope.

For more on life among the refugees in Zahleh, read Hardship and Hospitality in the June 2017 edition of ONE.



25 January 2018
CNEWA staff




Embed from Getty Images
In this image from 22 January, African migrants demonstrate against the Israeli government’s policy to forcibly deport African refugees and asylum seekers, outside the Rwanda embassy in the Israeli city of Herzliya. (photo: Getty Images)

Two years ago, writer Diane Handal reported in ONE magazine on the risks and challenges Christians were undertaking to leave Africa and resettle in Israel.

Now, thousands of these African asylum-seekers are at risk of deportation — and just today, survivors of the Holocaust spoke out on their behalf:

A group of Israeli Holocaust survivors has urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop the planned deportation of tens of thousands of African asylum seekers.

In a letter sent to the prime minister on Thursday, the 36 survivors called on the prime minister to make a “historic decision” and reverse the controversial deportation plan, according to the Haaretz daily.

“Under your leadership, Israel has set itself the goal of reminding the world of the lessons of the Holocaust. So we ask you: Stop this process! Only you have the authority to take the historic decision, and to show the world that the Jewish state will not allow suffering and torture of people under its protection.”

They added, “Do the Jewish thing, like [former premier] Menachem Begin, who accepted refugees from the Vietnam War, and gave those asylum seekers life.

“As Jews, whom the world turned its back on in our most difficult time, we have a special obligation not to remain indifferent, and to prevent the expulsion of asylum seekers,” they said. “The state must grant them a safe haven and not send them to their deaths in a foreign country.”

There are approximately 38,000 African migrants and asylum seekers in Israel, according to the Interior Ministry. About 72 percent are Eritrean and 20 percent are Sudanese, and the vast majority arrived between 2006 and 2012. Many live in south Tel Aviv, and some residents and activists blame them for rising crime rates and have lobbied the government for their deportation.

Last month, the Knesset approved an amendment to the so-called “Infiltrator’s Law” mandating the closure of the Holot detention facility and the forced deportations of Eritrean and Sudanese migrants and asylum seekers starting in March.

Read more.

Meantime, airline pilots are also taking action:

At least three El Al pilots recently published Facebook posts announcing their refusal to participate in the government’s mass deportation of African asylum seekers by not flying them to Rwanda or Uganda following the passing of controversial legislation sanctioning their expulsions.

Related: Surviving Without a Country in the Promised Land



Tags: Egypt Israel Africa

23 January 2018
CNEWA staff




Children prepare for the Christmas celebration at the Kidane Mehret Children’s Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (photo: CNEWA)

Editor’s note: Argaw Fantu, our regional director in Ethiopia, passed along this note and some pictures from Sister Lutgarda Camilleri, coordinator of the Kidane Mehret Children’s Home in Addis Ababa. CNEWA helped provide funds for the children’s annual Christmas party this year.

Dear Friends and Benefactors:

Peaceful greetings to you all from Kidane Mehret Children’s Home!

How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it! These are the words with which I would like to thank each one of you who have fundraised for our dear children’s Christmas party.

Decorations brightened the hall for the party. (photo: CNEWA)

The photos, I think, will explain the joy, happiness and festivities that the children felt and how they shared this feast with other children who left this home some years ago, who came to enjoy this Christmas party with us.

The children had a joyous time. (photo: CNEWA)

We have no words to thank you for your great generosity. Things like these will surely improve the lives of the children that, although they have no family, they are not forgotten, as the good Lord always remembers and cares for them.

Sister Lutgarda shared in the celebration with the kids. (photo: CNEWA)

Dears, be sure that we will include you in our daily prayers and we ask the good Lord to continue to shower his choicest blessings upon each one of you and on your families.

God bless you all!

Sister Lutgarda Camilleri



22 January 2018
CNEWA staff




Andru and his mother visited the CNEWA office in Amman recently. (photo: CNEWA)

Editor’s note: Last week, we received this touching note from our office in Amman, Jordan — a reminder of the tremendous difference CNEWA is making in the lives of so many, in ways large and small.

Andru’s family faced the same horrible situation of so many other Iraqi families: they were were forced to flee their cities and villages in Nineveh Plain and were displaced to Kurdistan for a couple years. Finally, they decided to try their luck and come to Jordan.

Andru is six years-old. He has one brother and two sisters who are in good health. But since he was born, he could not walk, due to looseness in the muscles of his feet and a small amount of brain damage. The doctor says it is something you can barely notice, and that he will grow up as a normal child. Indeed, he started to talk at the age of 10 months — but something happened in Erbil that silenced him.

Andru has difficulty standing, but it is hoped that with therapy he may be able to walk.
(photo: CNEWA)


According to his mother, who recently visited our CNEWA office in Amman: “While staying in Erbil, Andru was with us outside the house and he was on a baby walker to strengthen his muscles. All of a sudden, a low-flying airplane passed overhead. Hearing the loud noise, Andru screamed and cried, because he was afraid. After this incident, we noticed that Andru could not hear voices or sounds. The doctor told us that Andru lost his hearing in both ears. While in Iraq, we installed two hearing aids, but there was no progress or improvement.”

This family arrived in Jordan one month ago, and they are staying with a brother-in-law, who is married with two children. Ten people are living in one apartment at the Al-Hashimi area in Amman, with two rooms only. Both families share the rent of US $211. In addition to the electricity and water bills, they also share the food.

The family heard about CNEWA from other Iraqis, and came to register with us and benefit from the multiple programs we offer: food tickets, a health program, kerosene and blankets, in addition to summer Bible camp. They received a kerosene heater, and were referred to the Italian Hospital to receive the necessary health services for Andru. They were also provided with the contact numbers for the deaf school in Salt and Our Lady of Peace Center for Physiotherapy — and left our office full of hope, confident that Andru will receive the care he needs from those Christian institutions.

When he saw this icon in our office, Andru wanted to kiss the image of the Virgin Mary.
(photo: CNEWA)







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