St. Justin Centre for Children with Disabilities is a place here in Musoma, Tanzania, where you see kids struggling to walk, to communicate, or to do a simple drawing, but they welcome you with great love. Eighty kids live here with the loving support of the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa. I recently asked the sisters to give me a list of the children’s needs. The list included uniforms, shoes, mattresses, food, etc. I am happy to report that new mattresses for all the students came from a wonderful donor. I shed lots of tears as I watched the smiling kids carry their mattresses to their rooms. I pray to get support to buy uniforms to replace their sweaters full of holes and ragged shirts.
Angelica Ruppe, MKLM
The late theologian Paul Tillich said, “Life on the boundary often entails great loneliness as the boundary person can never be totally at home on either side.”
I know I am deeply loved by my sisters and brothers here in Nicaragua. Yet I will always be the fair-skinned foreigner. In the United States I will almost always be considered the “visitor,” one living out of a suitcase.
After returning from my first eight months in Nicaragua, a friend asked me, “What is it you learned about yourself during those months in Nicaragua?” My immediate answer surprised us both: “I learned to love myself.”
My time in Nicaragua was my first experience of not being surrounded by my family and friends, on whom I had always counted for affirmation. My Spanish was at such a beginner level that I would not have known if people were affirming me or not. This sense of being loved by self was definitely a gift from God.
Without this gift of God, I would never have had the courage to be that “boundary person” I have been called to become.
Catherine Madden, Maryknoll affiliate
In January we teamed up to facilitate a weekend retreat titled “Holistic Health in Times of Uncertainty” at AFYA Women’s Holistic Center here in João Pessoa, Brazil. Participating in processes such as respiration techniques, meditation and dynamics to reconnect with ancestral lineage, 12 people started 2021 off focused on integral health, self-healing and community building.
AFYA was co-founded by Maryknoll Sisters Efu Nyaki and the late Connie Pospisil in 2000. Numerous Maryknoll lay missioners have worked there over the years. Currently Kathy Bond teaches a weekly yoga class there and assists with marketing and social media efforts. We hope to offer more retreat moments in the future when the situation with COVID-19 improves. For now, we continue doing workshops and individual sessions online during this traumatic moment in our planet.
Muoch Chol Kuon is a 12-year-old boy from the village of Nasir, southeast of Malakal in South Sudan, where I serve. He was bitten by a snake and since there are no medical facilities in his village, he was brought by his father to the hospital in our U.N. camp. The boy’s infection was so serious that they had to amputate his left leg from the knee down.
The first time I met Muoch, I was touched by his gentle smile and sparkling eyes. Muoch wanted to learn English. As we talked daily, I would teach him words in English. He was so eager to learn. The most important part of our visit would be drinking porridge together. If I missed a day coming to visit him, he would use his father’s cell phone to call me and tell me to drink porridge with him.
Muoch eventually was able to get around using crutches and return to his village. He still calls me every week by cell phone and we greet each other with his asking me if I had any porridge today.
Michael Bassano, M.M.