The new world

Publish date 14-06-2022

by Mauro Palombo

The new mission to the Bara, diocese of Antsirabe, originated in 2018 on the initiative of père Pascal Raymond, a Malagasy Franciscan. It then takes shape with the journey of his friend Don Renato Rosso, a historical missionary among the nomads of the world, whom Sermig joins with enthusiasm. The enthusiasm of another Franciscan, Father Felix, gives the right impetus to the challenge: to bring new hope, and a new promotion of life, without uprooting people from their identity, to grow in broader, more human perspectives.
Compared to the Manapa plateau, in the Bara Valley, there are a river and two mountain ranges, with its 500 nomadic zebu herders, practically isolated since time immemorial. We have recently experienced a new encounter, already full of meanings. Great news was born around the work of the catechist-nurse-agronomist-teacher team who, organized by the Parish of Manapa, lives periods with them.

The first, a small school: the bricks produced there in an outdoor furnace, the corrugated tiles for the roof and other materials traveled willingly, many hours up and down the mountains. Boys and girls have embarked on a whole new path of great discoveries. The second step begins to corroborate the traditional lean diet of the shepherds, in quantity and quality: vast and fertile humid expanses, luxuriant only with marsh reeds, are replaced by rice fields and fields of legumes. The third is to improve a dramatic sanitation situation, starting with the work of a nurse to develop awareness of hygiene and care.
Nobody excluded. Community development action then involves the entire territory of Manapa, with a far-reaching program for its 32,000 inhabitants. Founded on the commitment of 30 catechists and 30 teachers in all the towns. The construction of the small churches is now being completed, for each community in the brousse; simple, some more beautiful, others more essential, each with its own school: where the catechist is the pillar of pastoral life, and the teacher takes care of the children's education. In the well-founded conviction that evangelization and education are the new name for lasting development. The life of the ecclesial communities grows around them, and all the members try to provide for them autonomously, contributing to them, co-responsible. Giving a future to the mission.

In addition to supporting ongoing programs, a priority today is to start delivering dramatically missing health care responses. The region does not yet have a full-time doctor, but a nurse is available, accompanied by a nun. It is a question of building a small real dispensary, a structure with some rooms, for an outpatient clinic and small maternity / hospitalization. A completely affordable cost, thanks also to the participation of the community as much as possible.
An open story, with new chapters. That of a great pastoral work and human promotion, with a soul, strong and attentive to the care of the community. Do the best you can, with what is available, people first of all: a great recipe.

Mauro Palombo
NP February 2022

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