2015 Aid to refugees in Hungary
Following the news given by Ferenc and by young volunteers who went to Hungary to be with the refugees, Operation Hope has received donations to support their work. Donations have helped take care of children and young people in central Fót. These donations also helped to assist refugees who are crossing borders.
2015: Support for the construction of an eye clinic in Congo
Dr. Richard Hardi has been living and working in the Democratic Republic of Congo for twenty years as an ophthalmologist. He is a committed member of the Community of the Beatitudes. He practices in Mbuji Mayi, the capital of East Kasai province, but he makes regular medical missions in remote areas.
In much of the country, he is virtually the only ophthalmologist who operates on children and difficult cases. He makes over 2,500 operations each year.
Operation Hope has sent financial assistance to Dr. Hardi to start building an eye clinic for which the region has a great need.
2015: Support for people after the earthquakes in Nepal
After successive earthquakes in Nepal in April and May 2015, Operation Hope has supported the work of a German NGO, Freundeskreis Nepalhilfe e.V. (FNH). All the money sent was used to purchase corrugated roofs for the construction of temporary housing. It was very urgent, since the “monsun” was expected shortly after the tremors. These roofs can be integrated in the future construction of more durable homes. Operation Hope has helped 200 families to relocate.
A friend of the community has just returned from a visit to this country. She writes: “There are still a lot of mountains of debris, and you sometimes see people sitting on the debris. As often, the quake mainly affected the poor, who lived in very simple shacks. Currently some were able to find a place in emergency housing, which sometimes turn out better than their former homes and could become a long-term solution.”
2015: Aid to refugees in Jordan
Jordan has become an important place of refuge for thousands of men and women fleeing the violence in Syria. A significant number of people from Iraq, Sudan and Somalia have also been received. The country remains tolerant and welcoming towards refugees and asylum-seekers. Responding to the enormous needs of a growing population of refugees in the country remains a huge challenge. Over a number of years, JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service)-Jordan has developed a program of non-formal education in the Greek-Catholic Ashrafyah School in Amman called “Community Learning Centre.”
For this year of 2015, a large number of refugee children were refused entry into the formal education system. JRS has focused on this non-formal education project by offering children lessons in Arabic language, maths, English and IT. Many Syrian children have not been able to attend pre-school nurseries. Primary school classes have been opened for them. Mothers in difficulty can at the same time follow life-preparation classes. This program includes subjects such as infancy care, basic literacy, rights awareness, handicrafts and parental support. These women are also given instruction on how to use educative materials for their children.
As well as teaching adults to read and write, apprenticeships are offered for women to give them a means of living. This educative program is run by refugees themselves, coming from Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Palestine.
Several Jordanians work together with JRS and Jordanian children can take part in the programs. The JRS team leads weekly sessions of recreational sports for child refugees.
These different activities give young refugees the means to build a network of mutual support, to develop a sense of common responsibility and to prepare to become facilitators themselves. Psychosocial support is also offered in Amman through a counsellor who is a psychologist.
In real terms, the Community Learning Centre Ashrafiyah looks after 1600 refugees, of which 220 are children, 670 are young people and 270 are women in precarious situations.
Through Operation Hope, the Taizé Community will support this project of JRS-Jordan by helping purchase the necessary equipment on site. A volunteer will also be sent by the Community to help in the camp for a while.
2015: Collection of medicines for Cuba
In October 2014, Brother Alois went to Cuba, with a few brothers during a stage of the “Pilgrimage of Trust” in the Caribbean. Prayers were held at Havana and Matanzas. On returning , Brother Alois told young people gathered in Taizé: “Cubans, especially the young, are desperate to leave their isolation, they need to feel close to young people in other countries, and they urged us to greet you all from them. For them, becoming salt of the earth means taking an option of hope.” In March of this year, a brother went back to this country to deepen ties. He saw that there was a defiency of many goods, especially medicines. A group of Christians runs a medical support network for disadvantaged populations, with small health centres in different parts of the country. Through Operation Hope, the Community has decided to organise a collection of medicines which will be sent to this group in Cuba.
All who want to help with this act of mutual aid can bring medicines to Taizé between May 10 and August 16. The list of medicines requested is the following: Diclofenac (anti-inflammatory), doxycycline (antibiotic), aspirins, vitamins, glucosamine, amoxycilline, furosemide, cephalexin, dexchlorpheniramine (antihistamine), ibuprofene. These drugs should have an expiry date for after December 2015 and be presented in unopened packaging.
Humanitarian aid to North Korea
In 2015, the Community invited two doctors from the Hospital of the Red Cross of North Korea to do a refresher course in France. These doctors are now for three months in Paris and the costs of their stay are being borne entirely by Operation Hope. Between 2007 and 2011, six other doctors did a one year intern-ship in France.
The first humanitarian deliveries to this country were made in 1998 and 1999. More than one thousand tons of maize were sent for the population who were suffering after several years of drought and flooding.
Since then, every year it has been possible to make a gesture of solidarity. Milk and feeding bottles for newborn babies, medical equipment and basic medication, were collected during the European meeting in Berlin at the end of 2011. Dozens of packs of medication, hundreds of stethoscopes, thermometers, bandages, gauze, syringes and different medical supplies as well as several large boxes of surgical devices and two sterilisers were sent. Operation Hope added two new oxygen concentrators. This support continued in 2012, 2013 and 2014 with the sending of medical devices and medication. The North Korean Red Cross takes care of the distribution to hospitals and rural clinics.
A brother of the Community, originally from South Korea, has visited North Korea several times. He has sometimes accompanied the delivery of foodstuffs.
Other examples of recent undertakings of Operation Hope
In South Sudan
In a village 25 km. south of Rumbek, some fifty families of lepers live; they have come from the entire Great Lakes region. Although medical treatment heals the disease and removes all danger of contagion, the loss of limbs sometimes remains a great handicap. The social stigma continues to affect them. The lepers cannot stay in their place of origin. Their children, even if they themselves have not been touched by the disease, are not welcome in school. The courage and hope of these families who have started a new life from scratch in great isolation and precariousness are remarkable. Operation Hope will help build a building for the primary classes, so that the children can continue to study even during the rainy season.
The civil war, the fees demanded and the lack of schools have kept many young people from continuing their schooling; helping them to develop their full potential is a priority. Setting up the Youth Opportunity Center wants to give a strong signal in favor of this commitment. On land occupied by the resources of an NGO during the civil war, the Church wants to develop a place of welcome, activities and formation open to young people of all backgrounds. Operation Hope will contribute to building a multipurpose room to replace the leaking tent.
In South Sudan, summer 2013
Humanitarian supplies sent to North Korea
The medicine and medical devices collected at the European meeting in Berlin end 2011 were sent on 11 February 2012, in order to arrive in North Korea in late March - early April. Many responded to the call of the community for solidarity with the people of North Korea. Dozens of packages of basic medicines, were picked up hundreds of stethoscopes, thermometers, boxes of bandages, gauze, syringes and various medical supplies. Also several large boxes of surgical devices and two sterilizers were given. Operation Hope has added two new oxygen concentrators. Everything was packed onto four pallets. In North Korea the Red Cross will undertake the distribution of the supplies to hospitals and rural clinics.
This aid in collaboration with the North Korean Red Cross continued in 2012 and 2013 by sending medical equipment (including an electrocardiogram, microscopes and emergency kits for doctors) and medicine for hospitals.
In 2011, through Operation Hope, the Community made humanitarian shipments for those who lacked food in North Korea: 260 tons of wheat flour and 120 tons of noodles. In 2007 the Community had sent a thousand tons of wheat flour. The first humanitarian shipments into this country were made by the Community in 1998 and 1999: more than a thousand tons of corn were sent to the people who suffered after several years of drought and floods. Since then, every year it was possible to make a sign of solidarity by sending humanitarian aid: milk and feeding bottles for infants, medical equipment and medicines. A brother of the community, himself a native of South Korea, was several times in North Korea and he sometimes accompanied the distribution of food aid. Between 2007 and 2011, the community also invited six doctors from the Red Cross Hospital of North Korea to spend a one-year internship in France.
In 2009, Taizé had one million Bibles printed in China
At the European meeting which brought together 40,000 young people in Brussels at the end of 2008, Brother Alois announced that, to respond to the needs of the Christians of China, the Taizé Community was going to have printed one million Bibles in China—200,000 complete Bibles and 800,000 New Testaments with Psalms. The printing was done in Nanjing, and from there the books were delivered across the country in successive stages throughout 2009.
In 2009, the Taizé Community is also supporting the biblical work of the Protestant Church in China. This support was continued throughout 2010 and 2011.
Support for AIDS orphans in Ethiopia
Operation Hope continues to help the religious sisters in Ethiopia whose work it has been supporting for more than fifteen years. In Addis Ababa they care for children who are AIDS orphans and families who are affected by leprosy.
In Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso is situated in the Sahel where the dry season lasts nine months without interruption. The population uses open wells that often dry up and the women are forced to use unhealthy water collected in artificial ponds during the rainy season. Sometimes they have to go as far as ten kilometres in order to find water and the rare wells that do exist become a source of conflict because of the scarcity of water and the long time they have to wait. Operation Hope supports the drilling of wells and the installation of pumps. These wells are an essential source of water supply for the people and for the prevention of sickness.
In 2010, Operation Hope also supported a project to provide milk for children at the hospital of Nanoro, also in Burkina-Faso.
Solidarity after Bolivian disasters
In 2007, several states in Bolivia were hit by floods. The most serious was in the State of Beni. Operation Hope provided help for buying food for families in the region of Trinidad who had lost their homes and who are living in camps.
While in the plains of Bolivia the problem was rain, it the mountains it was the contrary. The Altiplano was undergoing severe drought. Operation Hope helped farming families from El Alto who were in need of tools for working the earth and of seed.
Schools in Bangladesh
Operation Hope supports schools in Mymensingh, Bangladesh. In all, more than 1500 children study in these schools. These schools are places where young Muslim, Hindu and Christian teachers learn to work together. All of them are students themselves; they have to earn money to pay for their studies. These students understand that, if they wish to receive help themselves, it is also important for them to give something. They give their time to care for these schools, for children from very poor families. Serving the poor in this way increases the feeling of being part of one single human family.
In Cambodia: a place where the sick are made welcome
Since 2013, Operation Hope sends aid to support a centre for the sick, created in the Infant Jesus Parish of Boeng Tumpun, Cambodia. To respond to the needs of poor village people coming from different provinces in the country, the parish launched this project that promotes the dignity of the sick persons and provides them with the necessary medical care. The closeness to the capital, Phnom Penh, facilitates access to hospitals if that is necessary. Gifts make it possible to share in the cost of hospitalisation, but also to finance the centre itself: to pay the workers and the upkeep of the building, the cost of welcoming these people and of medication.