I wish to share a great joy with you: Pope Francis is willing to meet CUAMM on Saturday, 7th May in Rome! Below is the letter we sent him. It outlines how CUAMM works, why we wish to meet him, what we believe in and what we are seeking help and support for. Which is why we would like each of you to be involved in and feel part of this wonderful opportunity.
We look forward to a big turnout!
Very best wishes
Rev. Dante Carraro
director of Doctors with Africa CUAMM
Padua, 2 February, 2016
Holy Father, dear Pope Francis,
We will meet at the Nervi Hall in Rome on Saturday, 7 May at 12 noon. Many thanks for accepting our request!
We wish to meet you because we care about Africa and its people, based on 65 years of daily encounters and observations, sufferings and joys! Our commitment is to contribute to the development of those lands and to help give young people and their families a future. Shortages of everything, even essential services as hospitals and schools has forced many to flee (and very often end their lives in the Mediterranean Sea).
We are Doctors WITH Africa CUAMM, a medical-missionary organization established in the heart of the Diocese of Padova and currently operating with its own voluntary doctors, paramedics and technical staff, in 7 Sub-Saharan African countries (Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda). Great importance is laid by us on the concept of WITH, a preposition used by Jesus himself: God WITH us. Our intention is not to be FOR others but to be WITH others. Many African countries have weak, fragile hospitals and dispensaries, unable to deliver decent, dignified healthcare to its people. Very few local doctors and nurses have been trained (South Sudan has one midwife per 20,000 mothers-to-be). We address these challenges together WITH local churches and governments, in a partnership founded on mutual responsibilities, offering support and guidance in service management and staff training. We are “proud” not to own anything in these lands or to have anything that carries our name. We have managed 217 hospitals, but not one of them has been or is a “CUAMM hospital”. We support 2 universities and many health centres, but none of them is called after us. We work alongside existing facilities to help them develop and then leave when they are able to carry on alone. We work like yeast that disappears, leavening the dough.
Mothers and children. The most vulnerable people in Africa are mothers and children, especially the malnourished. They are often considered the community’s “runts”. Numerous young women die in childbirth and many newborns fail to live longer than a week or a month. Motherhood is not an adversity or an illness. It requires support, care and protection, through a growing number of well-trained midwives and the involvement of mothers and fathers educated to become increasingly aware of and responsible for their choices.
The last red mile. Our “mission” takes us to the poorest areas of the African continent, i.e. the sub-Saharan countries, and from there to the most destitute, rural, peripheral, forgotten parts of these nations. It is the last mile of the healthcare system, 10-12 hours from the capital, accessible only by dirt track: red dirt to be precise. These are our geographical and existential suburbs: this is our arduous but challenging life. Clean water and electricity are privileges, communications a gift. Medicines, equipment and trained staff are often in short supply. But this is where we have chosen to do our part. Most of Africa is not in need of private, highly equipped, technological “super clinics”. What are needed are “field hospitals” providing basic, essential services accessible to the poorest members of the population. Still today, over 90% of the African population unfortunately suffer and die from “the disease of poverty”. Which is what we are striving to overcome and what we are fighting against. It is also the way to repress terrorism and insecurity: we should be more afraid of poverty than of a different religion from our own.
Don Luigi Mazzucato, a priest from the diocese of Padova, was CUAMM’s director from 1955 to 2008. He died on 26 November, 2015. Besides being a great source of inspiration for all of us and for the over 1500 volunteers who departed for Africa during this period (for an average of 4 years in the field), he bore witness to a series of fundamental choices:
> poverty: “I was born poor and have always sought to live with the essential minimum. I own nothing and have nothing to leave. The little clothing I own should be given to the poor”;
> trust in Providence: “Accounts must be done and must balance, but our trust we place in God. He is the one who wanted CUAMM and who guards, guides and moves CUAMM forward”;
> cultivation of authentic relationships: “Programmes, projects and good coordination are important, but people and their lives come first”. He made countless telephone calls and covered innumerable kilometres to visit families or the sick to let them know he was there for them.
We strongly believe you can help us with your word, your example and your evangelical thrust exhorting us to always give first place to the poorest, remotest people. Holy Father, Pope Francis, we express our utmost gratitude and affection, together with our prayers, and ask you to bless us and our mission.
Rev. Dante Carraro
Presentation of the Lord
For further information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, ph.number +39 049 8751279