ASIA/AFGHANISTAN - The Pro Children Association of Kabul and the work of the nuns for the dignity of disabled children

Friday, 4 May 2018 children   nuns   disabled   healthcare  

Ass. pro bambini di Kabul

Kabul (Agenzia Fides) - "The nuns on mission in Kabul live in an extreme situation. They are carrying out a truly heroic work. And, in their small way, they are slowly helping to requalify the figure of people with disabilities within Afghan families". This is what Father Matteo Sanavio says to Agenzia Fides, a priest of the Congregation of the Rogationist Fathers and referent of the "Pro Children of Kabul" Association, a reality officially born in 2006, but which finds its origin in the Christmas speech given by John Paul II in 2001. "On that occasion the Pope said: 'Let's save the children of Kabul!'. It was from that cry for help that the Guanellian, Fr. Giancarlo Pravettoni had the idea of creating an inter-congregational association that would respond to Wojtyla's appeal", explains Fr. Sanavio.
The first four nuns arrived in Kabul in 2006. The priest explains: "They belonged to three different Congregations and they prepared themselves by living an experience of common life for six months in Rome. At first they were housed in the premises of Caritas in Kabul, then they found a house for rent. The aim of their mission was to help the weakest, so they chose disabled children, because unfortunately very often Afghan families do not give any kind of attention or assistance to disabled relatives".
Right from the beginning, therefore, the nuns tried to gradually incorporate children into society. To this end, "in a first phase a kind of professional school had been created. For almost 10 years now, however, the institute has been reorganized. Today there are 40 of our young pupils, and among them there is even a minister's daughter. In fact, we find that the Pro Children's Association of Kabul is the only structure for handicapped children present in Afghanistan", notes Fr. Sanavio, also explaining that "there are 4 classes of 10 students, followed by specialized teachers, in turn coordinated by the nuns. The teachers are Afghans with a regular contract, so the school is also a real job opportunity for the locals".
The future of the school, however, explains the priest, is rather uncertain: "We are in the hands of God, because we meet two difficulties every day. One is of an economic nature: for 2018, we need the necessary financial support, but at the moment we do not know if we will be able to maintain the institute in the next three years. The economic one, however, is not the biggest problem. The main obstacle is to find the staff to send to Kabul: there is need of nuns who have a culture close to that of Afghanistan, or who at least know the Arabic language. And above all that they are willing to spend and sacrifice two or three years of their lives there".
According to what Fr. Matteo Sanavio reported, there are currently two nuns in Kabul, a Guanellian from India and a Missionary of the Consolata from Mozambique.
In Afghanistan, where Islam is recognized as a State religion, the Catholic presence was admitted in the early twentieth century as mere spiritual assistance within the Italian Embassy in Kabul, elevated to Missio sui iuris in 2002 by John Paul II. Today the mission continues to be based in the diplomatic structure and is entrusted to the Barnabite, father Giovanni Scalese. The Missionary Sisters of Charity also work in the Afghan capital. (LF) (Agenzia Fides, 4/5/2018)