Divine Word Missionaries blog will share some of the latest mission updates from around the world. The more than 6,000 Divine Word Missionaries are serving in 84 countries with a variety of provinces/regions that are then grouped into four zones, namely, the European zone (EUROPA), the Pan-American zone (PANAM), the Asia-Pacific zone (ASPAC), and the Africa-Madagascar zone (AFRAM). The zones may work as geographical sub-zones wherever this seems suitable. Check back often for real-time stories from the missions.
Care for the disabled and the dying
Aug 24, 2018
Based in Germany, Father Dan Anzorge SVD works to build awareness in his country of Divine Word Missionaries’ ministries worldwide. He recently spent five weeks checking on Divine Word projects in Kenya, where he had served as a missionary for many years. Courtesy of our German province, here is Fr. Anzorge’s account of his visit:
Currently, apart from the well construction in Kenya, I see a great need in two areas: education for the disabled and care for the dying. Divine Word Missionaries have been building schools in Kenya for years. At my suggestion, a hospice was built there. I have looked in on these projects.
As a missionary I place the disadvantaged very close to my heart, especially people with disabilities. In western Kenya, our missionaries run a workshop for children with disabilities. These children do not have it easy in Africa. A disability is considered the punishment of God. Many parents hide their children’s disabilities so the neighbors do not notice. In our workshop, we want to give these children back their dignity. We look after them and train them in agriculture,
Step by step, we are working to change people’s minds about the disabled. That’s why I like to tell the story of Edwin, a young man born without legs and without a right hand. He received his education from us, gained university entrance qualification and even went to a university. Now he is married, expecting his second child and holding down a well-paid job in the town hall. He is an example of how we have achieved a major breakthrough, proving that children with disabilities in Kenya have the right to education. These children have their own talents. We want to discover those talents together with them and give them the confidence to follow their talents. When I see the joy of a disabled who has achieved something, who has proved her talents, I’m happy too.
But our goal of complete inclusion is still far away. We are pursuing another model to achieve that goal. Around six parishes we have built huts where we take in disabled children who have been cast off. We send them to a state school together with children without disabilities. From an early age, children should learn that everyone belongs, no matter what they look like or what they can or cannot do. Then they can learn from each other.
Another area where Kenya lags behind is palliative medicine. People who are dying often just go to a hospital where they lie in a bed until they die with nobody caring about them. They suffer. They are in pain. They are poor and abandoned, and they are afraid. That's why Divine Word Missionaries have built a hospice where we can take in people at the end of their lives and accompany them to the end. They should be allowed to walk in dignity and be free of pain when the time comes. This topic is very important to me. I work to motivate as many diocesan priests and lay people as possible to create ministries for the dying. In our Kenyan parishes, we now train lay people in palliative care.
Being close to people shapes me as a missionary. When I first arrived in Kenya, it was clear to me from the outset: I am the apprentice here. The locals know their country and their culture. I do not. So I learned from them and not vice versa. The country became my home, and in many ways it remains so. I invested my heart and all my love in Kenya.