AFRICA/IVORY COAST - The smile on the face of many orphaned children and the fatigue of women: the poor, always at the center

Tuesday, 11 January 2022


Abobo (Agenzia Fides) - "I belong to the Congregation of the Holy Family of Spoleto. At the age of 17 I wanted to consecrate myself to God and after my religious profession I went to Guatemala", so begins the story of Sister Monica Auccello. "In the Latin American country, I experienced firsthand what it means to choose the poor and put them first. I then returned to Italy where I was asked to study nursing at Tor Vergata University in Rome, in view of a departure for the mission in Africa. I am currently in Abobo, a large and poor suburb of Abidjan, where I train women religious with temporary vows and run a school with 500 students, including a group of autistic children, whom we welcome with affection and patience".
Recounting her long and rich experience, Sister Monica highlights the joys and sadness of her mission in the north of Ivory Coast and mentions "the smiles on the faces of so many orphans and the weariness of women".
"In 2007 I came to Ivory Coast, to work in the city of Odienné, where we run a large Health Center - she writes. I took care of the health of hundreds of children. One of the many wonderful memories of Odienné is the Rainbow Family House, which I helped open in 2011. Our starting point was a specific need: there were so many babies abandoned by their mothers, young mothers who could not keep the child in a Muslim environment or the children were orphans because the mother died during childbirth.
Thanks to this initiative, we have given a smile to many unfortunate children, providing them with a home and a family and facilitating their adoption".
Sister Monica also talks about the suffering she experienced in Odienné, especially about the conditions under which the women live there. "The burden of the family falls entirely on the woman's shoulders, she alone has to raise the children, look after them when they are sick, feed them by working in the fields or selling a few things at a stand in front of the house. The men do nothing: they watch indifferently how their wives and daughters work all day, return from the fields with heavy baskets on their heads or run for miles to fetch water. It is something that I have never accepted. Even the way children are treated made me suffer: they occupy the last place in the family. When lunch is ready, the man is the first to sit down at the table and helps himself first. The piece of meat in the sauce is for him. When he is satiated, it is the women's turn. If there's anything left in the end, it's for the children. It is therefore not surprising that malnutrition is so widespread and that child mortality is so high".
Odienné is located in the far north-west of the country, on the border with Guinea and Mali, and has a population of 250,000, 99% of whom are Muslim. (MA/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 11/1/2022)