The Mission Hub

The Pontifical Mission Societies include the Society for the
Propagation of the Faith, the Missionary Childhood Association, the Society of St.Peter Apostle, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. These Societies promote a prayerfulmissionary spirit among baptized Catholics and to gather a fund of support for the evangelizing and pastoral programs of more than 1,150 local churches of the Developing World.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Children Helping Special Children

In rural Zambia, as in many places in the missions, when a child is born with a physical disability it can be the beginning of a hopeless existence.  Depending on the educational level of the child’s parents, quite often a physical problem is assumed to mean a mental challenge as well.  The little one may be loved, but left on the fringes of the family.  In the life of subsistence farmers, someone who cannot work to help raise the     family’s food, even at a young age, can be viewed as a burden.  With       little to no extra money, families often choose to spend their meager      funds on something other than school fees for such a child thinking that education would be wasted.

Imagine, then, the blessing that the Congregation of the Sisters of St. John the Baptist and the Cheshire Home bring to the Diocese of Chipata with support from the Holy Childhood Association.  These Sisters go into the distant villages seeking out children born with club feet and missing   or malformed limbs.  Once found, the Sisters reach out to the parents, helping them to understand that this child of God has value and can be medically helped. 

Once parental support and trust is earned, the child is taken to the Home in Chipata where they are evaluated physically and mentally.  They attend school there, some for the first time, and are able to catch up to their peers.  As the child is deemed healthy and strong enough, they make the long trip to Lusaka where they receive whatever surgical intervention has been deemed necessary – straightening of legs, rebuilding of bone structures, or receiving prosthetic limbs, like this little girl.

Post surgery, children are returned to Chipata for lengthy physical rehabilitation, all the while continuing their schooling.

The Sisters know that their journey is only beginning.  When it comes     time for a child to leave Cheshire Home and return to their family, a system of follow up home visits by the Sisters is necessary to track the child’s progress.  Is the family following through with the physical            exercise program necessary for full healing?  Is the child attending the local school regularly?  Are educational programs needed for the        village as a whole to understand that disability does not mean inability?

Because children in our parish Religious Education programs and Catholic schools sacrifice and fill their Missionary Childhood            Association Mite Boxes, the Sisters are there for the long term,       making sure the answer to those vital questions is a resounding         “Yes, Lord!”.  
 -Maureen Crowley Heil

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