AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - Camillian Fathers caring for the sick in Africa: Fides speaks to one of the many missionaries who have chosen to live among some of the poorest people on earth

Monday, 16 February 2004

Rome (Fides Service) - Forty years have passed since the first Camillian Fathers arrived in 40 Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, where today a parish dedicated to Saint Camillus stands in an area of 200 square km of bushland.
The parish has always been engaged in health-care with its St Camillus Health Care Centre which attends to more than 160,000 people in close collaboration with the national health ministry which recently sent 20 midwives and 9 nurses to work at the centre.
The Centre consists of various departments: a mother/child centre; a maternity ward with 50 beds and an average of 5 deliveries a day; an infant care department for premature or sick new born babies. It is the only medical centre with 7 incubators and it receives about 400 children every year. Its dispensary for adults attends to 200 persons a day and the dispensary for children treats about 300 a day. The new dispensary for adults has a sector for AIDS patients; a laboratory, opened for internal needs but which today serves the whole town; a pharmacy selling essential drugs at a minimum cost and distributed free to the poorest patients; a mobile dispensary which serves two villages in the Savana dependent on the parish.
Brother Giovanni Grigoletto works at the medical centre for adults. From Piedmont, in Burkina for a life time, he starts his service very early and continues until late at night. He is a qualified nurse and besides caring for adults he looks after elderly clergy and bedridden terminally ill patients.
We asked him about his work:
“I came to Burkina Faso in April 1973. The country was called at the time Upper Volta. Before setting out for Africa as a Religious Brother in Italy I worked with our Order and when they opened a health mission in one of the poorest countries in the world - Upper Volta - I asked if I could take part and was accepted.
When we arrived there was no electricity or running water, only stifling heat and poverty. Since then we have made progress: now we are 60 Camillian Brothers, 55 local men and we have 2 large medical centres one which specialises in surgery a centre for the prevention of AIDS, and a centre with 100 beds for AIDS patients terminally ill, dispensaries in Savana, 2 seminars for future religious and a large parish entrusted to us by the local Church.” (AP) (16/2/2004 Agenzia Fides; Righe:36 Parole: 475)