Despair or Hope?
Africa and Aids have become almost synonymous. What
other medical news and images do you see and hear coming
out off Africa, Ebola Virus? West Nile? Leprosy? Malnutrition?
Malaria? You would think that everyone in Africa is
dropping dead from some dread disease or other. In fact,
there are millions and millions of people in Africa
who are surprisingly healthy, but there is no doubt
that there are pockets of Africa where people urgently
need medical help.
There are enormous problems:
Diets and nutrition need to be improved.
There is a great need for better sanitation and
Sources of clean water need to be made available.
Men, women and children all need health education.
There is a dearth of health workers and affordable
There is need for research into local and alternative
Child mortality rates need improving.
One would think that in the face of so many urgent
needs that those who work in Africa are gripped by frustration
and despair. On the contrary, the Missionaries of Africa
look upon all of this as challenges which with your
help and the grace of God they can confront.
In fact great strikes have been made. Let us take one
very small example: chiggers. These are minute fleas
that burrow into the skin of the foot, especially the
toes, lay there eggs, which would hatch, drop out, and
start the birth/death cycle all over again. If left,
they would cause infections and even loss of limbs.
But through education children were taught to remove
the fleas as soon as they noticed that they had burrowed
into the skin, sweep floors, and also wear footwear,
even simple beach sandals. The result? These fleas have
almost entirely disappeared, and their memory relegated
to folk-lore. One small almost insignificant step -
but as the ditty goes "Oh what a relief it is".
But there are hundred more like this and the Missionaries
of Africa are involved in such minute steps, quietly,
unassumingly, it's all part of their job! Whether it
is building hospitals, removing cataracts, being, literally,
the first and perhaps only aid in the area, transporting
the grievously sick to hospital, they take it in stride,
bring hope to the hopeless and succor to the helpless.