CATHOLIC WORLD DAY OF THE SICK: Salesian health programs provide for the needs of the sick
Salesian missionaries offer more than 150 medical clinics and hospitals around the globe.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Feb. 11, 2023) Top of Form Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins Catholic organizations around the globe in honoring the Catholic World Day of the Sick. Every year on Feb. 11, the Pope marks the day with a special message calling for spiritual and physical closeness to all those who are ill. Saint John Paul II instituted the day “to encourage the people of God, Catholic health institutions and civil society to be increasingly attentive to the sick and to those who care for them.”
Pope Francis focused his message for the day on the theme “Take care of him: Compassion as a synodal exercise of healing.” He calls on everyone to remember the sick and provide support and care for them so that they don’t live in isolation and feel abandoned.
Further, in his message, Pope Francis wrote, “These past years of the pandemic have increased our sense of gratitude for those who work each day in the fields of health care and research. Yet it is not enough to emerge from such an immense collective tragedy simply by honoring heroes. COVID-19 has strained the great networks of expertise and solidarity, and has exposed the structural limits of existing public welfare systems. Gratitude, then, needs to be matched by actively seeking, in every country, strategies and resources in order to guarantee each person’s fundamental right to basic and decent health care.”
Salesian missionaries offer more than 150 medical clinics and hospitals in mostly rural areas around the globe that serve a wide range of medical care needs. In many countries with Salesian programs, dental care and other necessary health services are offered to poor youth and their families who might otherwise have no access to health care.
“Salesians aim to serve the whole person by making sure that basic needs like health and nutrition are met in addition to other social service needs,” said Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “Ensuring that poor youth and their families have access to health services is essential, especially as the world still grapples with the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
On World Day of the Sick 2023, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight medical and health programs that provide critical services to those living in poverty.
St. Dominic Savio Parish’s Children’s Pastoral Care in Campinápolis, Brazil, visited the Xavante village of Santa Fé, where 120 people live in 10 homes. The visit was part of the volunteer efforts of Operation Mato Grosso, a Salesian initiative that provides volunteer support to aid local Indigenous communities.
A month before, the team had been there assessing the health of children at serious risk of malnutrition and returned to monitor these children. Team members found most had a significant jump in weight, showing improvement and recovery. Two of the children who were being monitored were admitted to the Indigenous Health Home (CASAI) to provide them with better health support. During this visit and over the month of support, families received donations of food baskets, and on specific days a hot dish was served to all villagers.
Also volunteering during this time was Dr. Paolo Fior, an Italian pulmonologist, who collaborated with Salesians in June. Fior said that taking care of the health of Indigenous people is a way to help preserve the culture of the people. “I realized that this work is very important. It is also very important for the city of Campinápolis to know that there are people who go all the way to the very last village to give them some attention as well. We prepared food for them to show that there are people who care about them, who care about their health, and who like and respect the Xavante people.”
Salesian missionaries have launched a modernization project for Afia Don Bosco Polyclinic in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo*. Built in 1987, the Salesian health clinic provides health care to people living in Lubumbashi. After more than 30 years in operation, the clinic is now in a position to expand and upgrade its facilities.
At a launch event, Father Ghislain Kaya, general director of Afia Don Bosco Polyclinic, and Father Guillermo Basañes, superior of the Mary Most Holy Assumption of Central Africa Province, laid the foundation stone that launches the new construction.
Dr. Franck Monga, who is in charge of the Lubumbashi Health District, also attended the ceremony. He acknowledged the value and contribution of Afia Don Bosco Polyclinic for the local community and expressed his confidence on behalf of the people of his area. He thanked the Salesians for the clinic, which has become a partner of the Congolese government in the health sector.
Salesian missionaries with St. Vincent de Paul Parish are operating the Don Bosco Gumbo camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Juba, South Sudan*. The camp, established in January 2014 after the outbreak of the civil war in December 2013, currently hosts 10,000 people, most of whom are women, children and the elderly. Salesians provide shelter, food, education, medical care and other basic needs.
Most of people living in nearby villages have had little or no access to face masks, hand sanitizers and immunization. They have also had little information about the spread of COVID-19, leaving the population at risk. Salesians are working to create awareness and provide information to create healthy practices to fight the disease.
Salesians are also providing face masks, soap and hand sanitizers. After this project launched, students, young adults, and people who are working started taking the necessary precautions while women in the villages and older people focused on engaging in the awareness programs and helping to spread the message. Cooked meals were also provided for students and adults who required better nutrition.
Salesian missionaries in Vietnam were able to assist more than 3,000 families with much-needed food essentials such as rice, noodles, cooking oil, sauces and milk thanks to the Australian Salesian Missions Overseas Aid Fund. The people receiving food aid live in remote areas and face many economic difficulties including unemployment.
Many seniors in the region live in dilapidated houses and are faced with poverty and medical conditions. With the funding, individuals received wheelchairs and walkers, cataract operations, and heart disease treatment. One patient was supplied with prosthetic legs.
Funding has also provided clean drinking water, and five homes were provided for very poor families. In addition, funding supported 250 scholarships. Many youth in the region are not able to go to school because their families cannot afford the school fees.
*Any goods, services or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.
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