In March 2021 the provinces of Zambia-Malawi, Zimbabwe-Mozambique and South Africa were merged to form a new Jesuit Province of Southern Africa.
Jesuit Missions has long links with this region, partly because South Africa and Zimbabwe were formerly part of the British Province.
Southern Africa is a beautiful part of the world with lots of youthful potential. Unfortunately political instability, poverty and the climate crisis have meant that this region is yet to reach it’s full potential and this is what motivates us to be involved.
Here is an example of one project we are currently running in Southern Africa:
‘A community cannot develop if it is sick and fearful of illness’: Covid-19 support to the Denis Hurley Centre, Durban
Named after the former Archbishop and anti-apartheid activist, the Denis Hurley Centre in Durban has been providing the only primary health care services to the city’s most vulnerable population since 2015. This includes almost 5,000 homeless people, tens of thousands of refugees and people living with HIV and AIDS.
The Denis Hurley Centre has a drop-in clinic where they serve over 1,500 patients each month and administers HIV tests, as well as a mobile clinic through which is reaches over 500 people a month by driving around the poorest parts of the city, and a satellite clinic-in-a-container near the harbour.
Advocacy is a key part of the Centre’s work, with Director Raymond Perrier chairing a task force on homelessness in the city.
Funding for the centre was secure, but the Covid-19 pandemic led to stakeholders pulling out. The Centre became endangered of shutting down when the marginalised needed it most. Jesuit Misisons was humbled to support the Centre during the month of October last year, enabling it to continue delivering free primary healthcare including HIV and tuberculosis treatment to its patients, of which were more than 60% were homeless.
South Africa has been one of the worst-affected countries by Covid-19, with over 1.5 million cases and 50,000 registered deaths.
Arrupe Social Centre, Antananarivo
Jesuit Missions has been supporting the Arrupe Centre in Madagascar since January 2020 in their efforts to strengthen environmental education and raise awareness in the country. Madagascar is already struggling with the effects of climate change, notably with ongoing drought in the south which has left more than a million people with food insecurity. The country is also recovering from Cyclone Batsirai which killed at least 100 people and left more homeless. This is the second tropical storm to hit the island, which is roughly the size of Spain, in two weeks.
The Arrupe Centre works in 6 dioceses spread across the country to help people understand the risks posed by climate change by sharing knowledge and practical skills so that they can actively participate in the prevention and resolution of environmental degradation.
This is mainly done through training groups of young people to be environmental leaders through informal education in the form of conferences, national radio broadcasts and television series on environmental themes. To ensure that its message reaches those with power to change policies, the Centre also collaborates with Madagascar’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and the United Nations Development Programme. The Jesuit director of the centre, Fr Cyprien, provides input on the religious aspect of environmental protection and the importance of caring for our Common Home as Pope Francis calls in Laudato Si’.
After participating in one of the youth trainings, scouts Jean and Onic were inspired to carry out a five-day training session in their diocese for 40 people on the topic of ‘Young Environmental Entrepreneurs’. Speaking about her experience of the Arrupe Centre’s training, Jean talked about the benefits:
“I obtained several advantages, such as discovering regions other than mine, reinforcing my knowledge on the encyclical Laudato Si’. Besides, I got more knowledge about the environment… It is the inspirations and the motivations that we got during these trainings that encouraged us to concretize our action plans.”
We are grateful to the Arrupe Centre for carrying out this important and urgent work, and to our generous donors who make it possible for us to support this project.