AFRICA/ERITREA - Defense of life, promotion of dialogue and peace: the commitment of the Comboni sisters

Wednesday, 7 March 2018


Dekamhare (Agenzia Fides) - Strong state of precariousness, poor access to running water, electricity, broken down sewage system, lack of essential services: these are the conditions in which thousands of Eritreans live. Many families have broken up because they are forced to emigrate from Eritrea because of the situation of extreme poverty. Those left behind do not have a sure source of sustenance or work to survive. The country is paralyzed and there is no hope of future for the young. Many families remain without the head of the household because men are sent by the government to military service that lasts 25 years. Once a year they can come back to see their family. Children live on what their mothers are able to provide. In this context of absolute need, the Pie Madri of Nigrizia nuns (or Comboni Missionaries) are carrying out a project in four different places in the country: Asmara, the most populated city in the country with about 600 thousand inhabitants, Dekemhare, Embatkalla, and Ghinda .
"We have qualified nursery schools in these places which have the aim of promoting human values that defend life and promote peace with the hope that these children will create a better future for the nation. Both Christian and Muslim children live together in the same class to favor dialogue and friendship and overcome prejudices and fears. The nursery schools are mostly attended by children and mothers who live in situations of serious poverty", says to Agenzia Fides Sr. Johnston Mary Thomas.
"The aim of the project is to support the studies of the poorest children and also to help their families. So far about 450 children are direct beneficiaries. Mothers help with great spontaneity and gratitude in various ways, keeping clean the nursery environments, or sharing the fruits of their field to feed the little ones, offering their help when organizing formative meetings", the nun points out.
Dekamhare, 40 km from Asmara, has about 12 thousand inhabitants. In this area malnutrition is widespread with serious consequences on children. Embatkalla is a small rural town, populated by different ethnic groups of different religions. Most of the population are Muslim or Orthodox pastors. Ghinda is a city of 20 thousand people, once a transit place for travelers to Massawa and therefore a thriving merchant center. Now, because of the unstable political situation, people are no longer traveling and all trade has stopped and work has decreased. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 7/3/2018)