People’s hunger in Eritrea

People’s hunger in Eritrea

By Luciano Zanardini/ Asmara

The African country is hostage to a regime since 1993. The Daughters of Saint Anne, who require some concrete help, bring the Gospel and lots of Hope to this dramatic situation.

UNESCO has recently declared Asmara, capital of Eritrea, a heritage of humanity. Eritreans, however need a different kind of attention from the international community. Just by looking at the number of people fleeing (about 20% land in Italy), we can understand that the situation in the Horn of Africa has been getting worse for quite some time. In the overall analysis, it is more likely to direct ones’ attention on the landings rather than tackling what is happening across the Mediterranean and, in particular, addressing the situation of a nation which is now dominated by fear. Democracy is hung with an authoritarian government that runs forced labor camps for those who have the unhealthy idea of opposing the political power in office (since 1993 dictator Isaias Aferwerki is in charge), and imposes a potentially unlimited mandatory military service for men and Women over 17 years old.

Economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations in 2009 (on the charge of arming the Islamic terrorism in Somalia) have led to an impoverishment of a community that is already in dire straits. Hunger and famine are on the country’s agenda. But even here, the Church brings the Gospel to men and women in a predominantly Muslim territory. In particular, in the country facing the Red Sea, the Daughters of St. Anne have been serving for 125 years. Their charism is a commitment of being “ministers of the Father’s mercy”. Their spirituality can be summed up in three words: faith, hope, and charity.

The Congregation was founded in 1866 by Rosa Gattorno (1831-1900), beatified by John Paul II in 2000. “The secret of her path of holiness, the dynamism of her charity and strength of mind with which she was able to face with a strong faith all obstacles - the Pope said in his homily - consisted in the continuous covenant with God and her confident abandonment in Him, in the attention and docility towards the Holy Ghost’s impulses, in her loving participation to the passion of Christ, her ceaseless pretense of converting sinners. Pure and simple instrument in the hands of God, she accomplished what she taught to her daughters: live for God, die for Him, and spend your life for love.”

Her message immediately spread to Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Eritrea, France and Spain. Today, the institute sends about 1400 of her daughters in Italy and around the world. 175 operate in Eritrea: they are active in the health care field with five outpatient clinics and one hospital; they work for the development of women with 14 work centers; they take care of the education system with 26 nursery schools, six primary schools and three middle schools and they are in charge of three orphanages; they animate the Pastoral activity with 22 Centers.

In particular, in recent years they are committed to boost nutrition for young people. Deforestation and lack of rain have caused a local agriculture crisis, the only source of livelihood. The desert continues to earn meters. Only cereals (barley, sorghum and millet) are grown, no legumes, vegetables or fruit. Thanks to the “Heart Friend” non-profit organization, the sisters have started a project. It does not take much to supply one kilogram of lentils, one liter of oil, and one sheep. The Daughters of Saint Anne, who for security reasons do not want to talk, must not be abandoned. The Eritreans, who have witnessed colonialism, fratricidal wars with neighboring Ethiopia and now military dictatorship, need democracy and, above all, to dream of their future.

Mon, 07/17/2017 - 18:19
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