By Fr. Giorgio Licini
A journey to discover the initiatives of the PIME missionaries and the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate in this small African country, carried out with the help of supporters and sponsorships.
Things are going well because Fr. Fabio designs new classrooms in the villages where the mission runs “self-managed” schools directly in the hands of village leaders, who monitor student attendance and keep in touch with their families. With a government subsidy for teachers and one from the mission; for the building of classrooms, student support, and a small financial supplement to the meager salary of the teachers, things are moving along nicely.
The Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate run schools of this type in the villages around Mansôa. Specifically the school is at M’Panquinha. There we find students wearing beautiful sneakers, provided to them by PIME Milan’s Run4Peace Campaign last year. Many kids come to school here on bicycle from Bissorã and their new tennis shoes come handy; otherwise they would have to pedal and brake barefoot. Here we find no shortage of evidence of the good that the PIME missionaries did, and are doing for these children and students. Including those with disabilities who are welcomed at Casa Bambaram in Bissau. Here they welcome the disabled as well as displaced twins: two groups at risk here in Guinea Bissau because of ancestral beliefs in Iran (evil spirits in the case of disabled persons) or because of the custom of breastfeeding and helping only one of the twins to survive.
“A voice for peace in Guinea Bissau” is also the tagline and the slogan of Radio Sol Mansi, which broadcasts throughout the national territory. It is the brainchild of Fr. David Sciocco, PIME, but now local staff runs it, always with a little support from PIME, and the presence of Sister Sandra Bonfanti, Missionary of the Immaculate, as Assistant Director.
“Don’t forget the Bor Clinic,” Fr. Zamberletti reminded me just before I left for Milan. It is the children’s hospital São José em Bor in Bissau, built in memory of the sorely missed Fr. Ermanno Battisti, who died on January 3, 2015. This hospital keeps operating on the heroic commitment of Dr. Pina Torcaso Zordan (a retired Italian doctor) and Dr. Dionisio Cumba (a Guinean pediatric surgeon).
Three volunteer organizations based in the cities of Rho, Vigevano, and Brescia (all three in the Lombardy Region of Italy) support the hospital alongside PIME. It is a children’s hospital that, in the dismal poverty and backwardness of Guinea Bissau, often must treat adults as well, missionaries included.
The PIME Missionaries are Catholic priests and brothers who commit themselves to lifelong missionary services, but they can’t do alone. Will you help PIME Missionaries make a difference in crossing cultures and transforming lives through the Gospel?
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