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BURUNDI: 2 Salesian priests and 25 youth leaders from Salesian parish in Rukago visit the sick and prisoners in Gahombo

BURUNDI

(MissionNewswire) Salesian priests Father Benjamin Gahungu and Father Raphael Katanga, from the Salesian parish in Rukago, Burundi, along with 25 youth leaders from the oratory, visited the sick and prisoners in the nearby town of Gahombo. The group broke into two teams, and one headed to a local hospital while the other went to the prison.

Fr. Katana held Mass at the hospital and at the end of the celebration, aided by hospital staff, distributed food and laundry soap to all the sick and health care personnel. Fr. Katanga said, “It was a moment of relief and consolation for the sick housed in the hospital. In our service, we also made sure that patients who are alone and have no relatives or friends to support them would receive something extra.”

The other group of youth offered the same assistance and comfort to prisoners. The visit was a great surprise for the prisoners and the guards, who were able to share a moment of emotion and serenity. Salesians in Rukago seek to motivate youth and show them the impact that they can have on the society around them. It is also an opportunity for youth to give back.

“The youth at the parish in Rukago have decided to become protagonists of change,” said Fr. Katanga. “They carry out charitable activities among the most vulnerable without expecting anything in return. Others participate in community programs for the renovation of roads and bridges. Sometimes they participate in the construction and renovation of homes for the needy.”

He added, “They, like other Christians in the parish, have understood that there can be no authentic Christian life without social commitment, especially in favor of the neediest.”

Salesian missionaries in Rukago operate a parish, schools, a youth center and an orphanage. In November 2019 Salesian missionaries inaugurated a new building for the Maison Cana orphanage. The orphanage is managed by the Daughters of Mary –Our Lady of Cana and was founded in 1994 by Salesian Father Vital Minani, who today is the vicar of the Mary Mother of God house in Rukago. The building is a large two-story structure. The work began in 2012 with the ground floor and continued in various stages based on the availability of funds from various benefactors, mainly from the Salesian Congregation.

Burundi, located in the heart of the African Great Lakes region, has seen more than a decade of violence and conflict which has contributed to widespread poverty, according to UNICEF. Burundi ranks 185 out of 189 countries on the 2019 UN Human Development Index and close to 70 percent of its residents live below the poverty line.

Children are some of the most severely affected by the country’s rampant poverty. Fifty-three percent of children under the age of 5 suffer from growth stunting caused by inadequate food, low-quality diet, poor infant feeding practices, poor household management of childhood diseases and the general decline of the country’s health system.

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Sources:

ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)

ANS – Burundi – Salesians and young people visit hospital and prison in Gahombo

Salesian Missions – Burundi

UNICEF – Burundi