Cleric’s campaign for African children

More than 10,000 children die every day in Africa, a number that reveals how greatly the developed world has failed to help children on this continent, many of whom will not live past infancy. One wonders how many innocent, suffering children are waiting for our help. How can we give them the hope of life, that divine gift of creation? The Patriarchate of Alexandria, which has jurisdiction over all of Africa and close-hand experience of the problems its children face, is trying with all the means at its disposal to provide all possible forms of assistance to all Africans, irrespective of color, race, religion or ideology. Children are the special focus of our efforts. The Orthodox Church fulfills its role in philanthropy, charity and ministry. All our missionaries travel to distant countries in the African continent, in cassocks faded by the sun and rain, bringing with them whatever aid they have managed to collect, trying to bring some light into children’s lives. In my ministries as a humble clergyman of God, I have experienced the pain and unhappiness of small children at close hand. Traveling through Cameroon, the high country of Chad, Angola and Mozambique, my paramount concern has always been the children. I have often waited days and months for the delivery of food, medicine and other material acquired at some considerable trouble. When they eventually did arrive, we sometimes had to carry them ourselves, since there was no other way to transport them to the needy. But we knew that the few things given to each child were like rays of sunshine, hope for the future. The joy I experienced at that moment was indescribable The aid we were able to give these children was a miracle, for which I praise God. Yet there were also times when I wept, especially when I went to isolated villages in the depths of the jungle and had nothing to offer the children who gathered around me. «It doesn’t matter, next time it will be our turn,» their eyes seemed to be saying. Their courage, love and strength gave me the power to continue my efforts with greater zeal. There are thousands of children that the Patriarchate is struggling to help, to give them better prospects for the future. The struggle is difficult, our means are few. However, God’s will is our duty and mission. There are many people from around the world who offer their help, with which the Patriarchate has built thousands of schools, hundreds of orphanages and dozens of hospitals for the children of Africa. Tens of thousands of children find protection, shelter and food thanks to the Patriarchate of Alexandria, which makes no distinctions among any of the children. In 2005, the declared year against AIDS, the Patriarchate has set up many clinics to care for the victims of the terrible disease that is sweeping the continent. Focusing on the protection of children, the Metropolitans of Eastern Africa are providing support for mothers without means so that they do not abandon these children. Our children, the future of Africa, and their needs have led us to wage a campaign for those suffering in Sudan, Chad and Cameroon. This major effort is to begin in autumn with places for distributing and preparing food, and for medical care. We must dry these children’s eyes once and for all, to let them smile, dream and feel certain about the future. That is the way of salvation, and we want to travel that road together. Our Patriarchate will not cease in its efforts. It will continue as it has done all these years – in humility, with all the means at its disposal, by the grace of God and with the love of philanthropists from every corner of the earth – to provide hope for the future of Africa. It will protect and care for its children.

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