The following series of texts has an objective to introduce you to the many kinds of assistance needed by various organizations, parishes or Catholic communities throughout the world. We invite you to travel with us to all the continents that you may see how very important your support is to them.
Enjoy the read !
By ACN International
Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada
For many years the 60 different ethnic groups living in Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) had rubbed shoulders peaceably enough. Towards the end of the 1990s however, the situation worsened and in 2002 a civil war broke out lasting until 2007. Even after the formal end of the civil war, this West African country – which earned its name from the lucrative ivory trade in which elephants were hunted in the region for many years – has continued to make headlines on account of routine violent flare-ups.
Today ordinary people are struggling to rebuild their lives. While on one hand this country is now economically the strongest member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), on the other hand over 43% of its population still live in poverty; indeed over 50% in many regions.
Ivory Coast has a very young population, with an average age of just 20 years of age. Almost 40% of the population of close to 22 million are children or young people aged 15 and under. Some 16.8% of the population are Catholic. Christians of all denominations account for something over one third of the total, while Muslims make up somewhat less than a third; 35% – the largest group by a small margin – belongs to various traditional African religions.
The Catholic Church is organized into 15 dioceses. The diocese of Odienné, located in the northwest of the country, is still very young. In fact, this year it will be celebrating its 10th anniversary. It lies in a region that was a bastion of the political opposition during the civil war and which consequently saw heavy fighting. For a time, when the country was divided in two, it lay within the territory controlled by the rebels of the Forces Nouvelles de Côte d’Ivoire.
The great poverty here is disquieting to Bishop Antoine Kone who is concerned for his people. He writes: “Most of the people here are small peasant farmers. They are dependent on the very rare rainfalls and on the infertile lateritic soils. The only people who manage to obtain a good harvest are those who can afford tractors, ploughing oxen, good quality seeds, fertilisers and pesticides. But all those things are too expensive for the majority of our Christian people.”
Resulting in, of course, impoverished parishes, because the people can barely afford to contribute. The bishop is hoping that the parishes obtain their own sources of income so as to become less dependent on financial support. His idea is to plant rice and maize fields to be maintained by the parishioners. At the same time the poor would also benefit. Bishop Antoine is thinking of the words of Jesus at the feeding of the 5,000: “Give them to eat yourselves!” (Mt 14:16). And he asks, “Can we preach the Gospel of life to men and women who have empty stomachs and who are malnourished?”
At a cost of $20,400 we can help some 20 parishes to plant their own fields. As the old proverb says, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.”
By supporting this project we will be helping the Church in Odienné to rely less on outside help.
If you wish to make a donation, please call us: (514) 932-0552 or 1 (800) 585-6333