Ghana – Salesians grappling with Covid-19 and the usual challenges

(ANS - Sunyani) - The Salesian presence in Ghana has to deal with the daily challenges of, among other issues, child exploitation, poverty, the lack of opportunities that leads young people to emigrate illegally ... The pandemic from Covid-19 has been recently added to the list of issues, with the additional difficulties deriving from lockdown and the stop to all activities. The Salesian missionary Fr Nicola Ciarapica, 72 years old, active for 30 years in the African region, offers a detailed picture of the current challenges.

What does your work or center consist of today?

Our technical schools and also our boarding schools are empty, but we've decided to stay together with the local population. This allows us to carry out activities for the socio-economic emancipation of women, young people and vulnerable groups.

Another activity that we continue doing is the training of teachers on the issues of irregular migration, creating a culture of conscientious planning of one's own educational-professional path. With the help of benefactors we have distributed tools for agriculture, seeds, fertilizers to poor families.

Finally, the means of social communication allow us to offer subsidies for spiritual and human formation and to invite to moments of prayer in spiritual communion. Staying with people helps us prepare for the post-pandemic.

One of the biggest problems is the trafficking of minors: what answer do you offer?

The phenomenon is unfortunately widespread in this region and is accompanied by other atrocities and violations: slave labor, the use of child soldiers, sexual violence and exploitation, marketing of human organs ... In Ghana the Catholic Church has always been a bulwark of defense of Human Rights.

We Salesians, with the Church of Ghana, civil organizations and various NGOs opened, three years ago, the "Child Protection Center" in Ashaiman, which houses minors recovered from the hands of traffickers, to assist them, re-educate them and when it's possible to return them to their families.

What challenge does this pandemic have for faith?

A first impression is that Catholics have let themselves be surprised by the measures of the lockdown. Few Christians have smartphones, and even those who have one cannot have a good internet connection. We found ourselves having to pray alone in our own home.

There have been original cases of parish priests who have installed speakers in the parish territory: by this means, they transmit the Rosary, Mass, biblical teachings and health-related information.

In addition, many Catholic groups have donated hospital equipment and food for the needy in the country.

As a priest, I simply share a new way of existence; a strong call to live the Mass as the heart of life; a "mystical communion" with sick people; being a facilitator of solidarity ...

It seems to me that the most eloquent pastoral image could be the open door of our chapels of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: in these months those doors have placed us before the constant presence of Christ the Eucharist, who brings our earthly affairs to the heart of the Father.



ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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