…of service and assistance in promoting faith…
Encouraged and mobilized by the request of Mother Angela Marie, and earlier, by many of my sisters from Poland, I share with you about my apostolate and what God has done in this past time and continues to do for the local community.
My ministry among catechists, there are 600 of them in the diocese of Sunyani, and almost as many teachers of the Sunday Liturgy for Children and 40 Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, was and still is a great challenge. To be a support and help for all of them in their pastoral work among the local, multi-faith and multilingual population, my apostolate involves frequent trips to all those people, especially the catechists who attend seminars, workshops or courses for their deaneries. Currently, there are seven deaneries in the diocese with 48 parishes and 100 priests, and the most remote parish in the Sunyani deanery requires about 2.5 hours by car to reach it.
Within these seven years, I have also been reaching distant, poor villages, where there is still no electricity or water. Most of the catechists in the villages are farmers, often unable to read and write even in their native language. That is why their and my work is extremely difficult, not only in communicating – here translators might help, but also in conveying and remembering the content of the tenets of our faith. Books and other helpful materials are published mainly in English. We try to translate and print them in the local language, Twi, but there is a problem even to find people who can translate and type the text. Nother difficulty is that not everyone who speaks Twi is able to read it.
I did not discover all these challenges during the first years and nobody told me about them. In various situations, I realized them by myself, and God sent ideas and people to help.
Now I would like to share about the help of this great God as well as other people. Despite many difficulties, there is also great joy. It is a joy that our God is a truly loving, caring Father who helps and supports us in the tasks entrusted to us and guides us on the paths of our faith.
Among the many people whom God sent to help me was the international organization operating at the Polish Episcopate – MIVA POLSKA (Missionary Vehicle Assistance), which, through its collecting funds for missionaries in their work, in 2016 helped us to buy a car for work in the Catechetical Office, and in the years 2017-2018 – 110 bikes and 30 motorbikes for catechists from the entire diocese.
In 2018, the first group of ophthalmologist volunteers came to us, and in November a dentist. During the first and second visit, the doctors reached 16 parishes and helped over 1,000 people not only catechists but also parishioners as well as the youth and children from our Nazareth schools.
At the initiative of the ophthalmologists, it was proposed that an ophthalmology clinic be established with the help of the Polish Government and the cooperation of Polish volunteers, doctors from the Foundation of the Ophthalmologists for Africa. With the consent of Bishop Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi, who expressed great joy and encouraged them to establish the clinic at the Diocesan Hospital of the Holy Family in Berekum in the Diocese of Sunyani, the project was written and sent in April 2018 to the Polish Embassy in Nigeria (which also covers Ghana). Because of the internal affairs of the Embassy, no projects were implemented that year. In November of last year, the new embassy staff called the people interested in the projects asking if they want to continue them in the new year 2019. In May of this year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Poland approved the project, the implementation of which began in July. The works are already finishing and medical equipment has been bought in Poland with the help of the Foundation. Then, I sent them by courier to Ghana when I was on holiday in the country. In the first days of November, an ophthalmologist – Iwona Filipecka and an optometrist – Agnieszka Lembowicz, volunteers from Poland and founders of the Foundation: Ophthalmologists for Africa and the Consul from the Polish Embassy in Nigeria – Joanna Popławska-Lilumbi, came to inspect the project and to train local staff how to assemble, take care of and use the new equipment. Our guests stayed at our home in Yamfo, as I belong to this community now while continuing to work in the Diocese of Sunyani.
The inspection took place on November 1. As the project coordinator on the Polish side, I took the guests to Berekum for a meeting with the contractor, the director of the hospital, local ophthalmic staff and the Bishop. Everyone was happy and satisfied with the work already done on the project. Mrs. Consul congratulated the contractor for his reliability and thanked Bishop Mattew for the good cooperation with the Polish Government. The next day she had to leave, so she thanked Sr. Helen and the whole community for their help, kindness and warm welcome. Our doctors from Monday to Thursday, in one of our schoolrooms, assembled the new equipment. There, they had training for four personnel from the Hospital in Berekum. They used the checking of the equipment and the training of the staff as an opportunity to also examine some children from ours and the neighboring school and the needy residents of Yamfo and the surrounding area. Our volunteers also expressed their great gratitude for cooperation and hospitality.
The official opening is expected to take place this month, probably on December 20th, when the Hospital is celebrating the Feast of its patron saint – the Holy Family. Therefore, we are pleased that our Congregation, under the same patronage, has its participation in this project, which will serve the local community in the health field.
May Jesus, our Lord, be born continually in us and through us among people and the world to which we are sent. Amen.
Sr. Marietta Żelasko from Ghana