AFRICA/TOGO - The story of a missionary: "The new leper is AIDS that also infects many children"

Monday, 18 September 2017


Kolowaré (Agenzia Fides) - "We assist more than 800 people in antiretroviral therapy, of whom 50 are children. AIDS, like leprosy, creates discrimination and often the family’s rejection because it is considered a shameful illness. Women, in particular, are abandoned when they are severely ill", says to Fides Sister Antonietta Profumo, head of the Health Center in Kolowarè, in the center of Togo. The religious, who belongs to the congregation of Our Lady of the Apostles (NSA), explains: "God did not create bridges, he gave us hands. African wisdom reminds me that it is very important what we can do, that we must look at life with an open heart, with a sense of responsibility, and do what is in our power. Our ‘hands’ are guided and supported by Providence that reaches us in so many different ways but always to help us build something beautiful and good. That is what I learn every day here in Kolowar".
The nun continues: "We are a small community of three sisters supported, accompanied by doctors and staff who work generously with us and allow us to welcome, cure and accompany many sick, especially women, children, handicapped".
The Health Center in Kolowaré was founded in the 1940s as a leper colony (see Fides 14/9/2017) to welcome people with leprosy, care for them, to provide accommodation and food and a bit of dignity. "Hundreds of lepers were welcomed here. Many died. Today there are 46 elderly, frail, almost all with severe handicaps and are often rejected by the family. Since 2009, we also deal with people who have AIDS whose number rises every day. We have opened a service for the prevention, care and accompaniment of these patients. And we pay special attention to HIV positive pregnant women to prevent mother-to-child transmission", says Sister Antonietta. "Our focus has been on children for some years now. These fragile, immunodepressed children and therefore subject to many infections are often neglected and are always a problem for the already poor family. Thanks to nurses and the help of so many people, our Center welcomes them and takes care of them. In addition, every month we give a food kit to encourage the family to come and take the therapy", adds the missionary. "At the beginning of the school year", she explains, "we give what is needed to attend school. During the Christmas, Easter, and Summer holidays, these children come to the Center to live together. Good nutrition, good hygiene, and medication taken at the right time help these little ones improve their fragile health. A doctor visits them and we do all the lab analysis. Thanks to this method no child died in 2016".
"We nuns, aware of the great gift that is our consecration to the Lord, we try to spend the days doing good and every day we encounter different occasions to be supportive and to help many poor people who cannot find solutions to their problems", concludes the religious. (AP/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 18/9/2017)