Madagascar: faith communities at the service of the poor

Andohatapenaka and Ampefiloha are two Jesuit parishes located in one of the most poverty-stricken areas of Tananarive, capital of Madagascar. At least a hundred thousand people live in this overcrowded area in appallingly poor shelters and alarming health and sanitation conditions. Since he was assigned to these parishes nine years ago, Fr Gino Manzone SJ has been asking himself: ?Fight against poverty? How?? He does not yet have ready-made answers, but forty long years of experience in Madagascar have taught him at least two important lessons. The first is that ?individual initiatives to fight poverty and to promote development, even when blessed by superiors, are destined to vanish after the disappearance of their initiator?. A second lesson, or evidence as he calls it, is that ?the service of the poor is an intrinsic component of Christian life as such.? For these reasons Fr Gino and his companions have tried through social and charitable actions to make the parish into a ?community that lives the faith in Christ?. A House of Charities, hosting some twenty physically and mentally handicapped people is now in operation, together with two churches and annexed facilities for socio-pastoral activities run by the people. Among these is a school for more than 1,700 children, open to all regardless of origin or religion. [HL41105] Fr Gino Manzone SJ, Parish priest of Andohatapenaka-Ampefiloha, [email protected]