Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 69(4) November 2019


Catholic Medical Missionary Society Update
An appeal from SR. NIVES in Ethiopia

Since 2015, the CMMS has been supporting Sister Nives Bataglia, one of two Comboni sisters working in extremely difficult conditions in Western Ethiopia. Sr Nives is 70 and the other sister 76! We originally became involved to help fund a project she proposed to reduce non-filarial elephantiasis (podoconiosis) caused by clay irritants in the soil. Because Sr Nives is such a grateful recipient and such an excellent correspondent, we have continued to support her work. As she makes clear from these two letters (below) that she has sent this year; time and situations move on!

With the continuing help of CMA members, over the last 4 years the CMMS has contributed £2000 to the two Comboni sisters. They, and we, are very grateful to all who have donated. Sadly, due to some of our more elderly benefactors, for a variety of reasons, being unable to continue to support the CMMS, we have found that we have reduced funds available to help really worthwhile projects being run by Catholic missions in desperately poor and troubled parts of the world.

Please could we ask all the readers of the CMQ to consider making a standing order payment to the CMMS.
Dr Steve Brennan, the Hon. Secretary of the CMMS will be delighted to supply you with the necessary forms.
His email address is

Comboni Missionary sisters
Beneshangul Gumuz
10 February 2019

Dear Dr. Robert hello, peace and joy to you.

I am certainly growing old very quickly and I do not remember if I told you that I was appointed to a new mission of ours.

I was also entrusted from all the province's sisters to do an exploration in new villages in order to open up a new community later on. It is in our vision but not yet possible to implement it.

With another Spanish sister, age 76 I went to do an exploration for three weeks in a reality that was shocking even to me that I have been here 37 years now.

We returned back to the community a week ago, me with typhoid fever, (I am already getting better) and in 2 weeks' time we will be off to another new village to see and then we will make a choice later on.

Here in this place called Mandura, we have opened up a major clinic for all the people, regardless the tribe they belong to, for a very cheap price they can get the treatment. The government was asking for a new delivery wing in order to reduce mortality for the mother and children, and it has to be for free.

clinic picsIt was a long time we heard about it, but we were not paying much attention, but concentrating on vaccinations. At the end of the year when they came for inspection and auditing the request was made crystal clear to us or the license to operate would not be renewed. So quickly we had to act upon, no time to make project requests to anybody. I dare asking to you if at all possible, for some contribution, toward this project of reducing maternal mortality even in the future. This drop will help us immensely.

Please pray for me and the sister who is coming with me. We need it indeed.

As a community we pray for all benefactors during adoration once a week.

May God bless you and give you serenity and peace of mind and heart.

Yours sincerely
Sr Nives Battaglia

Comboni Missionary Sisters
Beneshangul Gumuz
7 May 2019

Dear Dr. Hardie, hello! Peace to you in the name of the Risen Lord.

Proving there is no retirement age for missionary, here I am once more coming to you.

Simply two lines to say THANKS to you and to the Lord for allowing you to be present in my journey of missionary life here, among the Gumuz .

Because of what is taking place here, there is no communication whatsoever and I did not log in to see the e-mail for a long time.

A few hours ago, I was lucky to get a phone call from you, Dr. Robert inquiring about a donation of yours towards the new wing of maternity. Unfortunately, I still did not get the money transferred to me, but I will notify to you when it reaches me.

The wing is very nice and functional and many (compare to before) women are attending, if not yet so many for delivery, they do attend for vaccination of Tetanus Toxoid. I have to tell you that despite my 37 years of Ethiopia, I am back to square one, for I need to learn everything about this tribe. Sense of time, of values, of relationship, of eating and perceiving life...

By stopping and imagining a new behaviour, I could come up with alternatives to my old way of working, but it is not easy at my age, and it is a way of emptying myself anew if I want to learn about them.... What can I do? I feel I need a key a decoder. I never felt that differences are a problem. The differences hold also the solution.

Differences between what and what I am asking myself. But the meaning is simple and wonderful; "difference" is the variety and abundance of things: colours and life, opportunity and growth, change and excitement, richness and diversity. But also suffering. This tribe have suffered a lot from all sides. Forgotten by all because of the color of their skin which is black. Our presence here among them, (without cutting out the other tribes present in this piece of land) made a difference for them, a great impact.

Easter here was celebrated on the 28 of April. The same night, the so-called Amhara tribe living among the Gumuz, attacked them in a village and killed over 600 people, and wounding many others, including children. There has been a devastating loss of life, and massive displacement of people. Revenge killing or what some people understand as blood compensation, creates an unending cycle of violence that produced a lot of orphans.

Eventually the federal police managed to rescue the wounded and brought them near the village where we have our mission, in a school still under construction.

Only today, the Emergency and Famine team was able to respond to the need of this people and entered the School compound with provisions, medical as well as food, which we were providing up to now

(This suffering should be an asset to my growth. But I do not see it yet. Lord, I believe but increase my faith)

The local authorities are trying to negotiate. It is as I have to be plunged into despair before I am able to discover a hope, which lies beyond the darkness, surely?

What was the rhyme I learn many years ago in England? Every cloud has a silver line.

And today when I heard you Dr. Robert on the phone, I felt and saw the silver line coming from you. Thanks once more. I know I am rather confused in jotting down these lines, forgive me for it. I have seen too much pain lately.

clinic2Please pray for the reconciliation to take place.

I will see if I manage to send some photos not only of the clinic, but of the displaced people as well.

United in Christ the Lord Sr. Nives Battaglia

We will continue to attempt to keep you abreast, not only of the projects in Ethiopia that we are supporting, but of other important missionary activity throughout the world that we have been asked to become involved with.

Dr Rob Hardie Chairman CMMS