18 November 2013
A young couple is married in the church of the ancient Gelati Monastery in Georgia. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the church was built by King David the Builder in the 12th century. You can find more pictures of the monastery here, and read about Michael La Civita’s journey through the Caucasus here and here. (photo: Michael La Civita)
15 November 2013
Tags: Cultural Identity Village life Eastern Christianity Georgia Eastern Europe
In Ethiopia, school meals greatly improve concentration among students, such as Teklit Gebru of Sebeya. To read more about efforts to feed the hungry in Ethiopia, check out Hungry to Learn in the Autumn issue of ONE. And visit our Ethiopia giving page to learn how you can help. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)
14 November 2013
Tags: Ethiopia Children Education ONE magazine Hunger
An Armenian farmer in Anjar, Lebanon, displays some of his produce. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
In 2002, we profiled Lebanon’s “Little Armenia,” which includes the Beirut suburb of Bourj Hammoud and the rural town of Anjar in the Bekaa Valley region, some 60 miles to the northeast.
In Anjar, this transplant community of farmers was able to live off their allotted land for decades. However, recent times have brought new challenges:
Overlooking the Mediterranean, on the slope of Musa Dagh (Mount Moses), a stone’s throw from the Syrian border, more than 5,000 Armenians from six villages, were flushed from their homes by the Turks. …
Finally, in September 1939, with the help of the French Navy, they were relocated to the rugged, dry land of Anjar, in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. While awaiting the construction of 1,000 single-room homes, these refugees lived for two years in tents. During the first months of their exile, malnutrition and malaria caused the death of some 500 Armenians. …
Despite the rugged climate of Anjar, the Armenians learned to work the land as they had back in Musa Dagh. In addition to 5,400 square yards of residential land, each family was allotted 9,360 square yards of agricultural land. …
“Once the lands were distributed, each family received 110 pounds of wheat for planting,” he adds. “We were able to make a living.”
“Today, I am unable to earn a living,” laments Boghos Taslakian, who is 77. “I sell my cabbages for 10 cents a pound at the market. In reality, agriculture has reached a dead end in Lebanon. My children are no longer interested — they don’t even know the exact location of the family farm. The majority of the youngsters are attracted by other activities, such as jewelry making.”
In order to make ends meet, farmers must take on other activities. After working as a farmer for more than 60 years, Assadour Makhoulian was forced to open a small supermarket in the village. Today his son operates it.
Read the rest in the July 2002 issue of our magazine.
13 November 2013
Tags: Lebanon Cultural Identity Armenian Apostolic Church Farming/Agriculture Armenian Catholic Church
Pope Francis meets with Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of ecumenical relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, during a private meeting at the Vatican on 12 November. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
Pope Francis met yesterday with Metropolitan Hilarion. ANSA reports:
The senior Orthodox church official, whose post is similar to that of a foreign minister, is visiting Rome for a series of meetings including a conference Wednesday organized by the Vatican Congregation for the Family.
Tuesday’s meeting coincides with a similar session in Moscow between the archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola, and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill.
It also comes only a few weeks before the pope is scheduled to receive Russian President Vladimir Putin on 25 November.
And Rome Reports has more about yesterday’s meeting:
(video: Rome Reports)
12 November 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Ecumenism Christian Unity Russian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk
The Mother of Mercy Clinic provides a wide range of services to as many as 30,000 patients each year, with a special focus on prenatal and postnatal care. (photo: Steve Sabella)
In the Autumn issue of ONE, we take readers to the Mother of Mercy Clinic in Jordan, where healthcare workers care for the growing number of refugees:
Since early 2011, more than half a million Syrians have found refuge in a country with a population of barely more than six million. Hundreds of people arrive every day, many of whom come with severe injuries, long-term health issues or both. Many women arrive pregnant — some of whom, married at a young age, are barely more than children themselves.
Early in the crisis, the kingdom offered all Syrian refugees free health care in the public system. But as the demand for care grew, it came close to bringing the system to its knees. In March, Dr. Yaroub Ajlouni, president of the Jordan Health Aid Society, reported that the health system in northern Jordan — where many Syrian refugees live — was on the verge of collapse. Beds were unavailable in the public hospitals, intensive care unit spaces and incubators were full, drugs in short supply. Since then, Dr. Ajlouni and other aid workers say the kingdom has relieved some of the crowding, quietly scaling back the amount of health care refugees can access, implementing new restrictions and asking international organizations to carry more of the burden. The crisis has affected everyone.
Sister Najma says the Mother of Mercy Clinic sees few refugees — perhaps 10 or 15 a day — but demand for its services is constantly growing, and the clinic is struggling to keep up with the increase. Part of this is because space is limited, Mr. Bahou explains, and part of it is that the same economic factors squeezing Jordanians are also putting pressure on private health care providers. “It’s getting tight, because we cannot increase the budget anymore,” says Mr. Bahou.
“We’re trying to keep the budget as it is and absorb the higher cost of maintenance and utilities.
“We have many generous donors, but it’s not easy,” says Mr. Bahou. “We’re managing with the amount we’re receiving — we don’t have a problem — but it’s very tight. Every penny we spend, it should be used very reasonably.”
Things are not yet dire — the clinic is slated for renovation this year, funded in part by the U.S. Eastern Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. But Sister Najma says the pressure on the sisters is growing, and there is no room to treat more patients.
Read more about Overwhelming Mercy in the Autumn issue of the magazine.
And visit this page to learn how you can help support CNEWA’s work in Jordan.
8 November 2013
Tags: Refugees Children Jordan Health Care Women
Egidio Sampieri, the “bishop farmer,” and one of his helpers pick vegetables from their garden. (photo: Mohammed El-Dakhakhny)
In 1999, we profiled Bishop Egidio Sampieri, O.F.R., the Latin Catholic apostolic vicar of Egypt — though he was also known by another name:
Cradling a large gray rabbit in his arms, the “bishop farmer” grins. “This is my passion. I love animals.” Stacks of cages full of rabbits of all sizes surround Bishop Egidio Sampieri, O.F.R., and his two helpers as they feed countless hungry mouths with verdant leaves from the nearby garden.
True to the spirit of St. Francis, Bishop Egidio, as he is affectionately known, loves not only animals but people too. Perhaps it is his warm smile, sympathetic air and open manner that keeps the prelate at the center of a constant swirl of Egyptians, Sudanese and other Africans who seek his fatherly counsel and encouragement.
Bishop Egidio serves as Apostolic Vicar for the Latin Catholic community in Egypt. The post was first established by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839 and at that time covered Egypt and Arabia; Bishop Egidio was appointed by Pope Paul VI in 1978. Al-though the prelate charge is the Latin Catholic community, his ministry stretches much farther.
What distinguishes Bishop Egidio among church leaders in Egypt is the spirit of ecumenism that permeates his words and actions. He is a unique character in a place where religious sensitivities can run high among the various Christian and Muslim communities.
Though Bishop Egidio passed away in 2000, we invite you to read about his life and his important work, the impact of which can still be felt to this day.
7 November 2013
Tags: Egypt Unity Ecumenism Catholic Farming/Agriculture
The Godano Rehabilitation Project, which serves about 140 women under the age of 20, offers computer and beauty-school classes. (photo: Cody Christopulos)
In the Summer issue of ONE, we detailed ways the CNEWA-supported Atse Tekle Ghiorgis School in Addis Ababa is changing the lives of some of the most vulnerable youngsters in Ethiopia. However, that is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg that is CNEWA’s support for education:
Improving the lives of poor young adult women is an important part of CNEWA’s mandate. Nowhere is this more evident than at the Godano Rehabilitation Project, which serves about 140 women (and a few men), all under 20. Many are single mothers.
“It’s a common, sad story,” said Mulatu Tafesse, the Catholic layman who founded the program. “These girls come into Addis from the country to work in households, doing the cleaning and cooking. Many of them are raped, become pregnant and are fired. They can’t go back to their families because of the stigma, so they turn to begging or prostitution, and a prostitute in Ethiopia is very likely to get AIDS.”
Mr. Tafesse takes in as many women as he can. He has had many years of experience helping the needy. During Ethiopia’s famine of 1984-1985, he helped Save the Children bring relief to starving refugees (as did CNEWA’s Gerald Jones, his then-boss). At Godano, he also utilizes his professional experience as an engineer. By modifying shipping containers, Mr. Tafesse has erected a mini-city of classrooms, workshops and leisure areas. Living quarters are nearby.
For a year, the young women learn a variety of skills — cooking, hairdressing, computer literacy, handicrafts — and are given a basic education. Meanwhile, their infants receive appropriate attention.
The women earn some money, but the larger aim is to find them jobs after a year of training. Most do, and eventually many also reunite with their families.
Read more about Breaking Barriers in Ethiopia.
6 November 2013
Tags: CNEWA Ethiopia Children Education Women
A Free Syrian Army fighter walks inside a church in Aleppo, Syria, on 4 November. The following day, the Vatican embassy in Damascus was struck by a mortar round. No one was injured. Read more. (photo: CNS/Molhem Barakat, Reuters)
5 November 2013
Tags: Syria Syrian Civil War Vatican Aleppo Damascus
Oseni Khalajian, a pensioner living in Eshtia, belongs to a community of Armenian Catholics descended from Armenians who fled to Georgia to escape the Turkish mass murder. (photo: Molly Corso)
The Autumn issue of ONE includes a memorable look at life in Armenia, and Catholics who have true staying power — those who kept the faith alive despite years of persecution:
Older generations, while they maintained their Catholic identity, are still struggling to come to terms with their faith after decades of pressure to abandon it. Built in 1886, when the first Armenian immigrants started to trickle out of Turkey and into Georgia, the church in Eshtia was turned later into a warehouse when the Soviet Union’s Josef Stalin went to war against religion in the 1930’s.
Armenian Catholics, however, went to great lengths to maintain their identity and faith. Villagers tell tales about elders baptizing the communities’ babies in secret, and Dr. Ovsepian remembered celebrating Christmas.
“During the time of the Communists, people were also religious,” Father Antonian recalls. “I remember well the holidays like Christmas — which were celebrated.”
But for men like Vano Gasparian, a local born in 1955, being an Armenian Catholic was part of his identity, even if he grew up knowing little about the faith.
“Catholics remained Catholics,” he says, adding, however, that for the older generations it can be a difficult transition from a culture that promoted atheism to a life of faith.
“For the young, they believe with their whole soul,” he says. For the older generations, “for us, it is harder.”
Read more in the Autumn issue of ONE.
4 November 2013
Tags: Cultural Identity Armenia Village life Georgia Armenian Catholic Church
A young Ethiopian girl is shown in one of many photographs captured by Sister Christian Molidor during her travels for CNEWA. (photo: Christian Molidor, R.S.M.)
In the Autumn edition of ONE, we devote several pages to the remarkable photographs of Christian Molidor, R.S.M., who worked for CNEWA for many years and died this past summer. Michael J.L. La Civita pays tribute to her life and work in the video below.