AFRICA/NIGER - Three months after the military coup: "Close to the poorest without fuss"

Friday, 3 November 2023


Dosso (Agenzia Fides) - "After three months of military government there is no way out. We continue to experience a complicated situation throughout the country. And the situation seems to be getting worse because so far no solution has been attempted or proposed, neither economic nor political".
Father Rafael Casamayor, who lives and works as a missionary in the small Christian community of Dosso, about 150 km from the capital Niamey, wrote to Fides. "Since the coup last July (see Fides, 27/7/2023), the country has been paralyzed, not even the civil servants receive their salaries, the prices of basic products, including medicines, continue to rise or are completely absent," adds the priest of the Society of African Missions, who has been working in the small community in Niger since 2021. Father Rafael also reported how the general difficulties have also affected the beginning of this pastoral year, explaining that amid the difficulties he has noticed greater unity and solidarity in the Christian community with which he works. "In the last three or four months, five young couples have been married in church, the number of catechumens has increased slightly and there is a more fraternal and generally more relaxed atmosphere." "In the last week of October, together with our grassroots communities in the different neighborhoods, in the most remote places, we distributed food to the poorest families (see Fides, 26/9/2023) and we asked ourselves how it is possible to live like this in huts of only eight or ten square meters". "And if it rains, where do they go?" asked a seminarian from Benin who took part in this initiative with us. "He had never seen such poverty and told me: 'It is the first time that I am taking part in a food distribution to the poorest, and when I think of the extremely precarious conditions of these brothers and sisters, it tears my heart apart'. "What made this gesture of solidarity with our most needy brothers possible was the spirit of fraternity that arose between people from such different cultures, spaces, countries and worlds," emphasized Father Casamayour. “The grassroots communities in the different neighborhoods collect information about the families most in need and discreetly distribute bags of rice and money for spices at night.” "A city councilor congratulated us on this initiative," he emphasizes, "but above all on the reserved and modest way in which we help the poorest without making a fuss." The priest concludes his report with details of other initiatives: "After our recent diocesan assembly in Niamey (see Fides 19/10/2023) we are planning courses for various youth groups, including: Songhay-Djerma culture, nursing and Caritas, a prayer school, discernment, sport courses and a missionary group... And also catechesis for children and adults. Our work with blind children and young people is also making remarkable progress", (see Fides, 7/1/2022) he concludes. (RC/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 3/11/2023)