Archive for the ‘Global Poverty’ Category
With over four decades on the continent, Jesuit Father Mike Schultheis has devoted himself to providing Catholic higher education across Africa including stints in Uganda and Tanzania. In the 1990s, he taught economics at the Catholic University of Mozambique, established its first graduate degree and founded a research and documentation center. He also was the first president of the Catholic University of Ghana. All of his previous educational apostolic work led him to his latest initiative of opening the Catholic University of the Sudan two years ago.
With educational opportunities in Sudan being among the worst in the world and adult literacy below 30 percent, Schultheis realizes that the Catholic University of the Sudan is a critical component in moving the country forward after almost 25 years of civil war. The founding of the university also comes at a critical time for the nation as it prepares for a historic vote in 2011 to decide if Sudan stays united or becomes two countries.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference established the Catholic University of the Sudan as a centerpiece of their national program to help the country recover from decades of violence, famine and mass displacement of people. The vision for the university and its development goes back even farther, to half a century ago, soon after Sudan’s independence from Britain in 1956. The idea for the university was discussed again when former Sudanese president Jafaar Nimeiry met with Pope John Paul II in Rome in 1983, just months before a civil war broke out in the county and dashed the university project yet again.
“The Catholic University of the Sudan, as a national institution, is a dream long deferred,” explains Schultheis. “
You can read more about the new Catholic University of the Sudan here. You can also watch the interview with Fr. Schultheis on the progress of the Catholic University of the Sudan produced by National Jesuit News last year when the school launched its second faculty of agricultural and environmental sciences in Wau.
The Jesuits are probably best known for their work in education yet, the Society of Jesus is also the largest missionary order in the Roman Catholic Church. This vibrant apostolate dates back to St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of foreign missions, and his work in South and East Asia.
The Wisconsin Province Jesuits recently renewed a bond with the Kohima region of northeast India. This area, known as the “seven sisters” (for seven states), spans a rugged triangular region of lower Himalayan terrain that borders Tibet, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan. Th Wisconsin twinning relationship was created in a spirit of mutual sharing. It identifies particular areas of cooperation and a commitment to accompany indigenous people. Jesuit Father Tom Krettek, provincial of the Wisconsin province, and his international assistant John Sealey visited Kohima this year to help deepen this bond.
While there, Fr. Krettek and Sealey visited Jesuit schools, health clinics, the Jesuit novitiate in Kohima along with other Jesuit ministries in the area. The video below highlights their visit to Kohima.
St. Aloysius Gonzaga High School is located in the impoverished Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya and is dedicated to serving AIDS affected youth. With nearly 1 million inhabitants, Kibera is the largest slum in sub-Saharan Africa. In order to be admitted to the school, students must have lost one or both of their parents to HIV/AIDS and their surviving parents must also be afflicted with the disease. Jesuit Father Terry Charlton co-founded the school in 2003, which recently open a new building to its 280 students.
St. Aloysius is based on the Jesuit model of Catholic education and serves bright youngsters of all faith backgrounds who are at risk by providing a college preparatory education and support to overcome the deficits of their environment. Their educational philosophy is based on the Ignatian principals to become men and women for others who are dedicated to bettering society. Even facing such challenges as dire poverty and being orphaned, the children of the school take its motto to “live, love and learn” to heart.
You can read more about Fr. Charlton’s vision for St. Aloysius here or by watching the video below:
Six months after the earthquake devastated Haiti on January 12, more than one million survivors continue to live in appalling conditions, with inadequate sanitation, limited access to services and food shortages, say the Jesuits who are working to provide humanitarian assistance.
Conditions in many of the nearly 1,400 camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) around the capital, Port-au-Prince, are extremely critical. The conditions at the largest Jesuit Refugee Services’ (JRS) camp, Automeca, with a population of 12,000, are typical. Here, residents continue to live in shacks held up by rags and poles. There are no schools or electricity, sanitation is poor and the water barely drinkable. When heavy rain falls, garbage rushes through the camp.
For many years, JRS has had a grassroots presence in Haiti and has provided humanitarian assistance to displaced Haitians in both the Dominican Republic and along the Haitian border. JRS – Haiti is focusing its current relief efforts in the Port-au-Prince area, working in seven camps that serve the needs of more than 21,000 displaced people in and around the capital by providing emergency assistance, psychosocial support, and training to community leaders to manage camps and civil society organizations.
“Camp management and aid delivery structures should always include consultation and cooperation with the displaced people who are swiftly forming their own organizations to advocate for their own particular needs,” said JRS/USA Director Jesuit Father Kenneth J. Gavin. “More attention must be placed on supporting the food and relief needs for IDP recipient communities and people not living in camps so that moving to a camp is not the only way for people to receive minimal food, water, and livelihood assistance.”
At a meeting with JRS – Haiti on June 20, seven IDP camp leaders highlighted numerous concerns, including the lack of security, particularly in camps that don’t have electricity and lighting at night, which pose a particular threat to women and children.
The situation in unofficial camps is even worse. Throughout the city, unofficial camp residents receive little or no care from large aid organizations or international coordinating bodies; many have even been told leave the camps but have not been provided with alternative housing.
“JRS welcomes the moratorium on forced evictions issued by the Haitian government. Unfortunately, pressure from landowners on IDPs to evacuate the sites continues. Actions go so far as intermittent disconnection of the water supply, and refusals to allow the construction of more permanent shelters and street lighting. ,” said JRS – Haiti Director Jesuit Father Wismith Lazard. “The government needs to use its authority to protect camp residents from this kind of harassment, and put more effort into identifying suitable shelter.”
In the video below, Frs. Lazard and Kawas Francois, president of the Jesuit Interprovincial Committee for the Reconstruction of Haiti, discuss the conditions in the camps in Haiti and the plans to open 17 Jesuit Fe y Alegria (Hope & Joy) schools in the next year in Haiti.
Last fall, Jesuit Brother Jim Boynton was missioned to northern Haiti to serve refugees through the Jesuit-founded “Foi et Joie” (Faith and Joy) school system. On January 12, a 7.4-magnitude earthquake devastated the capital city of Port-au-Prince 80 miles away. The next day, the Jesuit superior in the area sent Br. Boynton an email saying, “I know that you have led medical brigades in the past . . . I want you to bring doctors immediately.”
Filled with fear and faith, Boynton connected with a group of Jesuit-educated former soldiers and health care professionals and headed into the heart of the crisis to serve the greatest needs. In a video interview with the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus, Boynton shares his story and his mission to help rebuild Haiti through education and service. Click on the picture of Boyton below to be taken to the video interview with him.