Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 67(2) May 2017
THE CATHOLIC MEDICAL MISSIONARY SOCIETY:
an update for 2017
Dr Rob Hardie, Chairman CMMS.
Further to the our brief report in the CMQ in November 2014, the CMMS continues to send between £4000 to £6000 every year directly to projects related to health organised by members of the Catholic Church anywhere in the world. All disbursements have been to areas of extreme poverty and need. Most of our disbursements are of a “One off” nature, but we have two projects that for various reasons, despite our limited funds, we have decided to make a regular commitment.
We continue to assist a project in CAMBODIA which was mentioned in 2014 which we set up with the help of the parish priest in Svai Sisaphon, a poor town in NW Cambodia. Over the last 7 years the missionary Jesuit priests running the parish have changed, and we have found it easier for continuity to deal directly with the bishop of Western Cambodia , Bishop “Kike” (Enrique Figerido). The project has enabled AIDS patients in the local hospital who are seriously malnourished due both to their disease and the lack of caring relatives, to receive appropriate nutrition which has been provided by the parish community of Svai Sisaphon.
For the last 14 months we have been supporting an Elephantiasis project in ETHIOPIA, run by the Comboni Sisters. As with the help we give to the Svai hospital, we have become more involved in this than the customary “One off” disbursements; consequently it might prove helpful to go into more detail.
Sister Nives sent this introduction when we offered to help her in 2015.
“St. Daniel Comboni, founded the Congregation of Comboni Missionary Sisters in Italy in 1872. His vision was to promote the role of the woman in society. Pope John Paul II on the 5th of October 2003 declared Daniel Comboni a saint.
“Today the Congregation attempts to fulfill the charism of its founder in the Church by dedicating itself principally to evangelization among those who have not yet received the message of the gospel, particularly among the poorest and most abandoned especially in Africa. The priorities of the Congregation are:
- Promoting the integral growth and development of the woman at every level in society, so that she can use her potential as an active member of society.
- Announcing the good news of the gospel, through a pastoral approach in all the services given to people.
- Fostering reconciliation among people.
“Since 1914, the Comboni Sisters have been present in Ethiopia working mainly in Eritrea, but war cut short our missionary activities in the region, so we started in 1965 in Southern Ethiopia, opening 12 Communities. Currently there are 32 Sisters of 15 nationalities. The sisters operate in the pastoral and social fields of education and promotion of women, education and promotion of youth in primary and secondary school, in the medical field and in the formation of local religious.
“In the Vicariate of Nekemte we started over 20 years ago. The area is not exclusively for evangelisation, rather for ecumenical purpose because the people are mainly orthodox Christians (70%). 20% are Moslem, and the remainder are evangelical, protestant and many other new denominations that came in recently. We live in peace, and there is a good tolerance among all denominations.
Because we do not have a constant service in our chapel, I join the orthodox on Sunday for Mass. The only problem I face is that they start at 4.30 in the morning and I am lazy to join in at that time, moreover there are no lights so I am afraid to see the hyenas.
“We started 20 years ago with small clinic, and only 5 years ago, we up-graded to a health centre. We have a health officer but no doctors yet. “At times some Rotary doctors stay for few months at the most, and then it is operated day and night by local nurses and midwifes.
“I now, over 66 years of age and another Italian sister, age 75 are pushing every day the personnel, motivating them to give their best.”
In 2015 Sr Nives proposed a project to improve the health of patients suffering from Elephantiasis. One in twenty of the general population in Western Ethiopia suffer from this condition. The project is specifically to treat, and as much as possible prevent, Filariasis and Podoconoisis. Both diseases cause gross lymphedema in the lower limbs (Elephantiasis). The former is due to parasitic invasion, but the latter is due to silicate particles in the soil being absorbed through the skin of the feet and collecting in and blocking lymphatic vessels and nodes.
Nikemte is 332 km West of Addis Ababa in Central Ethiopia, the capital of the Wollega province.
Sr Nives has also sent photos of her patients with Elephantiasis. Elephantiasis is easy to help with washing and pressure, and prevent by wearing shoes!
We will continue to help Sr Nives’ project for the foreseeable future. Personal donations can be sent through the CMMS or directly to the Comboni Sisters, best contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org as Sr Nives email is unreliable in Ethiopia.
Iraq, Syria and the Middle East
It is also worth mentioning that we have attempted to help with the international refugee crisis, both by supporting the work of “Aid to the Church in Need” and the “Little Way Organisation”; and also by personally visiting the islands of Kos and Rhodes in September when our modest donation acted as a catalyst to others giving almost 4000 euros directly to a Franciscan priest working with the stranded refugees in the islands (and the giving continues). Thousands of refugees from Syria and Iraq who survived the crossing of the Aegean Sea in overcrowded inflatables have become increasingly stranded on the Greek islands as Europe has increasingly closed its borders. The English Franciscan priest, Fr Luke Gregory, speaks Arabic and spends his time visiting the “Welcome Centres” on both islands, which are in fact no more than shells of buildings made available by the authorities to the migrants. He works to bring a little comfort to them and provide basic provisions like toothpaste, shampoo and clothes. He brings children sweets and toys. He say, “The children have been tossed about for weeks and they do not understand what is happening. They need to catch their breath in the midst of all this.”
Donations to Fr John Luke can be made
directly via the website:
Recent disbursements are
|Bp Figaredo Enrique. Cambodia.
|Aid to Church in Need. Refugees.
|Little Way Association. Refugees.
|Fr Jos Thaliath. India.
|Bp Figaredo Enrique. Cambodia.
|Comboni Sisters, Sr Nives, Ethiopia
|African Missions, Mr Paddy Boyle / Dr P Doherty
|Fr John Luke Gregory in Rhodes
|Fr Jos Thaliah, India
|Poor Clare Sisters, Mbarara, Uganda
|Makeni Trust, Sierra Leone
For any further information please contact
Dr Steve Brennan, Hon
Dr Rob Hardie, Chairman, at