What does an FBO* call evangelizing? Claretians in Chad
Our Claretian Working Pastoral Plan in Chad
Fr. Casmir Ibe cmf
Mission coordinator of Chad Mission
* FBO: Faith-Based Organization
Greetings from Chad!
1. Chad, in a brief description
Chad is a developing country with 17 million inhabitants, with 51% and 40% of Christians. The level of illiteracy is at about 75 percent of the total population. Poor environment and harsh weather is the reason for the rampant illnesses and high mortality rate.
I would like to describe the land-weather situation as it gives an idea about the country’s status and people.
Generally, the weather rains for 3 to 4 months, between July and October. Outside these months, there is drought. Everywhere begins to dry up from late November with its pick in April and May. During this pick time, everywhere, including the bushes, are dry. The hotness of the weather is as high as 46°C and 47°C. People and animals quickly die due to dehydration.
The high wind that blows dust everywhere carries with itself certain air-borne diseases. The environment becomes so hot that the easiest alternative is to sleep overnight in the open air due to heat. The significant foods in the country during this period are grains and floor, which may be dangerous to people with terminal sicknesses like diabetes etc.
But the good news is that a little effort for the drilling of bore-hole produces good results, as underground water is not so deep.
A typical family environment in Banda, Sarh – Chad
A desert-like Chandian environment
Nevertheless, the Government of Chad has been so nice in its effort through the reduction or almost free education at the primary and secondary school levels. Still, the nightmare has been regular teacher strikes.
Many Chadians are very simple and accommodative, while others can be very violent.
2. The Claretian Missionaries in Chad
We are Claretians working in the Southern part of Chad. The name of our diocese is Sarh diocese, Chad. The diocese has a boundary with the Central African Republic.
Presently we run two parishes here:
- Marie Mère de L’Eglise (St. Mary’s Mother of the Church) is a Catholic parish in one of the quarters in the town called Banda.
- Vicaria Ste. Mère Thérèse de Calcutta (St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta quasi-Parish, located in Kotoungoro, the South-Eastern part of Chad. These mission areas are vast, and most regions are non-developed and still under primary evangelization.
We are engaged in parochial work, which began on October 1, 2015. We work with church members numbering about 8,500 in our two parishes. Presently three Claretian priests who live together manage these two parishes.
The three Claretian Priests working presently in Chad
Most times, we travel to distant places (150 km) on motorcycles because of bad roads to help people who need both pastoral and social assistance. We celebrate the sacraments and engage in the catechesis and the catechists’ formation.
A Claretian priest on the rough road to pastoral work
After a celebration with the diocesan bishop
3. Our work as Claretian Missionaries, An organization rooted (based) on Faith
I want to present to you the main projects and works we are involved in, trying to respond to the integral need of people in Chad.
We engage in social work, especially in assisting the poor and needy people, thanks to the help we get from our benefactors in many aspects. These are some of our actions:
- Providing some funds to assist them in entrepreneurship.
- Helping in providing shelter to some who have no place to sleep.
- Assisting those who are out of school due to non-availability of school fees.
- Creating schools in the interior villages that do not have access to schooling.
- Feeding poor school children who sometimes do not eat before trekking long distances to school.
- Organizing skills acquisition exercises to encourage self-dependency and reduce poverty.
- Donations like wheelchairs to the disabled.
- Providing funds to assist sick people who cannot go to hospitals due to lack of finance. Unfortunately, a lot of people here die in this kind of situation.
Assistance to Poor Widows/Single mothers
One of our primary tasks here in Chad is assisting Poor Widows/Single Mothers in their economic lives whenever we get a benefactor’s help.
This is because illiteracy and seemingly hopelessness due to hardship cause a lot of people (men and women alike) to live reckless lives of drunkenness and promiscuity. This fact leads to many unwanted pregnancies and unprepared marriages that do not take time to disintegrate, leading to much single parenting. More so, since this kind of lifestyle is a fertile ground for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), needless to ask why there will be many widows and widowers.
A lot of widows here with their many children live miserable lives due to poverty. One cannot but pity them and begin to think of what to do to help them reduce their misery.
We also engage in youth animations in youth encounters, youth formations, and skill acquisitions. The youths here are so vibrant. Any assistance to them brings enormous good results. They have a lot of hope in the church and had never relented in educating them through the creation of schools, organizing skills acquisition exercises, and guiding them in their moral lives. The youths of our churches are so happy about our closeness and accompaniment with them.
Skill Acquisition for the youths
Difficulties and dialogue with Muslims
Here in Chad, many people ‘sing’ and desire “Cohabitation Pacifique” (Peaceful Cohabitat), but the actual realization of this is still tricky. Truly the political and economic power in Chad is in the hands of some group of Muslims. They have never ceased to use this power to take advantage of the Christians in all ramifications.
Sometimes they forcefully graze over lands that do not belong to them while being quickly ready to bribe their way out in law courts. Several times this has caused village disputes that always result in the killings of human beings.
In our area, some Muslims do not respect Christians and consider us infidels. We are convinced that dialogue, respect, and peaceful relationship are the best way, but sometimes, it is difficult.
4. Challenges and dreams for the future:
- Our significant challenges are the weather and finances. Sometimes because of the harsh weather, our comfort would be far-fetched.
- There are also Muslim influences. Some Muslims are never tired of their effort to Islamise our Catholic faithful. This fact disturbs the Christian existence here in Chad.
- From time to time, we are amid many unlearned Christians with different and divergent mentalities that become very conspicuous.
- The language barrier continues since many do not understand the French language but local dialects.
- The weather condition is very challenging to health.
We thank everyone who has assisted us in one way or another.
Fr. Casmir Ibe cmf.