ASIA/INDONESIA - Catholic Maternity Hospital in Ternate, Moluccas, reopens: Christians and Muslims welcome this sign of hope and confidence

Friday, 2 April 2004

Jakarta (Fides Service) - The Catholic Maternity Hospital on the small Island of Ternate, in the Moluccas, vitally important for the local people who are Christians and Muslims, has been reopened. The hospital, which is run by a local community of Sisters who care for mothers and children irrespective of their religion, has always been a centre of harmony and peaceful co-existence.
The 50 bed hospital was opened in 1999, but due to damage in two years of violent ethnic clashes in the Moluccas it had to close. Thanks to much effort on the part of the local people and authorities as well as valuable assistance and equipment supplied by Caritas Internationalis on 1 March 2004 the hospital was able to reopen its doors although for some time it will function only partly. The Ternate hospital also has medical staff working in small mobile clinics on nearby islands.
Most of the Christians who fled Ternate in 1999 because of the violence, including the hospital Sisters, have now returned. Once stability and security had been restored the Indonesian government asked the local Church to call back the Sisters and reopen the hospital which provides indispensable care for mothers and children in the area.
The Catholic hospital with its Sisters and Catholic volunteers is an important means of rebuilding reconciliation in the Christian and Muslim population of the Moluccas. Interacting with the Sisters and other staff local Muslims learn to appreciate and respect Christians, And Christian returnees are confident that life will once again be one of peace and harmony.
The Hospital has eleven medical doctors and a team of paramedics as well as the nursing religious Sisters. The support offered by Caritas Internationalis was essential for the hospital to reopen. Caritas Internationalis is a confederation 162 national Caritas agencies involved in humanitarian and social assistance in more than 200 countries.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 2/4/2004 lines 34 words 322)