5 October 2011
A young girl walks along a decorated wall as she joins her friends before the start of their first communion ceremony, in the Dbayeh Palestinian refugee camp, on the northern outskirts of Beirut, Lebanon. (photo: Dalia Khamissy)
The Pontifical Mission, our operating agency in the Middle East, has provided much support for the Dbayeh refugee camp in Beirut over the years. With the help of The Little Sisters of Nazareth, Dbayeh camp has set itself apart from most Palestinian refugee camps:
Across from the UNRWA office, in the partially derelict school compound that Pontifical Mission, in partnership with UNRWA, built, funded and once administered, 10 youngsters were sitting in a semicircle rehearsing their First Communion. All wore white cassocks; wooden crosses hung around their necks while the girls wore gardenias in their hair. Men and women stood by, offering moral support. Among them was Sister Anita, a Little Sister of Nazareth, a community inspired by the French hermit Blessed Charles de Foucauld. While her two colleagues in Dbayeh are Belgian, Sister Anita is a native of Bshirri, a village in north Lebanon.
The Little Sisters of Nazareth have had a family of three nuns stationed in Lebanon since 1971. Sister Anita and Sister Rosa have served for four years, while Sister Joanna arrived a year ago, though she has long experience in Lebanon. Based first in Jisr el Basha, the sisters left Lebanon briefly for the safety of Jordan after the camp was razed in 1976. But in 1978, the Pontifical Mission approached the sisters and, to ease their return, offered living quarters in Dbayeh.
For more about the Dbayeh refugee camp, check out Defining Dbayeh in the September 2007 issue of ONE.
4 October 2011
Tags: Lebanon Refugee Camps Palestinians Beirut Palestinian Refugees
Ethiopian Orthodox priests wear the Tabot, symbolizing the Ark of the Covenant, during the beginning of the celebration of the Ethiopian religious festivity of Timqat/Epiphany in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (photo: Cody Christopulos)
Timqat or Epiphany is 12 days after Orthodox Christmas. It celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. Wikipedia describes the meaning of the beautiful headdresses worn by the priests in the photo above:
During the ceremonies of Timkat, the Tabot, a model of the Ark of the Covenant, which is present on every Ethiopian altar (somewhat like the Western altar stone), is reverently wrapped in rich cloth and born in procession on the head of the priest. The Tabot, which is otherwise rarely seen by the laity, represents the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah when he came to the Jordan for baptism.
For more on Ethiopian priests check out the story, As it Was, So Shall It Remain? from the September 2009 edition of ONE.
3 October 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Monastery Ethiopian Orthodox Church
A relative of a patient at Amala Hospital in Kerala, India, prays in the candle-lit grotto located near the main entrance to the hospital, which is dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The grotto contains a statue of Mary draped with rosaries. (Photo: Peter Lemieux)
During the Middle Ages, entire months of the year were given over to special devotions. In 1883 Pope Leo XIII dedicated the month of October to the Queen of the Holy Rosary or Mary.
In the the current issue of ONE, Peter Lemieux reported on church-run institutions like Amala Hospital, which has a special connection to Mary:
With a busy 1,000–bed hospital and medical institute to oversee, the Carmelite priest keeps a close eye on the clock. After the celebration, he promptly closes the liturgy with a few words of wisdom. He also requests prayers for this year’s crop of students in the hospital’s nursing program who will take their final exams that afternoon. He then reminds the group that the day is the feast of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, to whom the Amala Hospital is dedicated.
To celebrate, Father Paul encourages them to join a rosary procession that evening, which will begin at the chapel, wind through the institution’s rolling campus and end at the grotto near its edge, where he will hold a candlelit vigil.
For more about Kerala’s health care system, check out the story, Healing Kerala’s Health Care in the current issue of ONE.
30 September 2011
Tags: India Kerala Health Care Catholic Church of the East
Msgr. John Kozar, President of CNEWA, enjoys a laugh with Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley,O.F.M. Cap.
(Photo: Erin Edwards)
Boston’s Archbishop, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., paid a visit to our New York offices this morning. Cardinal Sean is also a member of the CNEWA board, and was curious to meet some of the staff and see what we do. CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar gave him a tour of our offices, introduced him to the staff, and clearly had a great time.
29 September 2011
An Ethiopian monk prays at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City.
(Photo: Peter Lemieux)
Ben Cramer reported on the dwindling number of pilgrims or visitors to the Holy Land in the March/April 2004 issue of the magazine. The violence in the region at the time kept pilgrims away and depressed Christians living in the region:
The crisis jeopardizes the region’s Christian communities in ways that go beyond economics. According to Christian leaders in the area, the absence of Christian pilgrims in the birthplace of their faith is having a troubling impact on local parishioners and even the hope for peace in the Middle East.
“Pilgrimage has almost totally stopped since 2000,” says Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah. “There are a few pilgrims coming here out of true conviction, but these are only small groups, primarily from Italy, France and Spain.”
Since this story ran in 2004, the number of pilgrimages to the Holy Land has increased. According to a January 2011 article from Independent Catholic News, “...the highest number of pilgrims went to Bethlehem for the Christmas celebrations since 2000. Up to 500 Christians from Gaza were also able to come to Bethlehem which was a considerable improvement...”
For more, check out Holy Land: increase in number of Christians returning home.
28 September 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Jerusalem Holy Land Africa
Photographer Sean Sprague captured these dancers during the Istanbul Gypsy & Orientale Dance Festival in May of 2010. (Photo: Sean Sprague)
Turkey’s diversity has been well documented in the pages of ONE — including members of the Roma community, seen in the photo above partaking in an ancient celebration marking the arrival of spring. The celebration includes bonfires, traditional music and dancing. Though the Roma are a minority, their culture and traditions remain strong.
For more about Turkey’s diversity check out, Turkey’s Melting Pot from the May 2011 issue of ONE.
Turkey was in the news this week, being touted as an example of progress in the disarray within the Middle East.
“Turkey is the only country that has a sense of where things are going, and it has the wind blowing on its sails,” said Soli Ozel, a professor of international relations at Istanbul Bilgi University.
The country’s foreign policy seized the attention of many in the Middle East and beyond after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s tour this month of three Arab countries that have witnessed revolutions: Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Even Mr. Erdogan’s critics were impressed with the symbolism of the trip.
For more, read the New York Times article, In Riddle of Mideast Upheaval, Turkey Offers Itself as an Answer.
27 September 2011
Tags: Turkey Gypsy
Santa Lucia (home for the blind in Abou Kir, Egypt) staff member Iman Bibawi Iskandar helps a resident practice writing Arabic Braille in preparation for an exam. (Photo: Holly Pickett)
In the May 2010 issue of ONE, journalist Liam Stack shared the stories of the sisters and children at the Santa Lucia Home for the Blind — which was built with funds from CNEWA donors.
Santa Lucia inspires dedication and devotion among its faculty and staff. Samira Ibrahim Matta was one of the first teachers hired by Father Tarcisio. Every afternoon, she teaches the intricacies of Arabic grammar, a language whose swooping letters they learn to write on small, clanging Braille typewriters. Between school and afternoon classes at the home, residents learn to read and write Braille in Arabic, English and French.
Proud of her role at Santa Lucia, Ms. Samira teaches her students not only reading and writing, but lessons about life. A few years ago, her own vision began to fade, and today she is blind. As hard as it has been for her to adjust to being blind, she uses her own, recent experiences as a way to teach the children to respect themselves and work hard.
“I don’t want to congratulate myself for what I do, it is just important to teach them to challenge themselves and the difficulties of their lives,” Ms. Samira explains.
Learn more about the Santa Lucia Home in Blind to Limitations by Liam Stack.
26 September 2011
Tags: Egypt Africa Franciscan Sisters of the Cross
This photo of two Georgian Orthodox monks was taken in July of 2001. Photographer Justyna Mielnikiewicz has documented the Caucasus region extensively for many years.
(Photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)
In the November 2009 issue of ONE, we featured a beautiful photo essay by photographer Justyna Mielnikiewicz, profiling the diverse Caucasus region. Annie Grunow wrote the text accompanying Mielnikiewicz’s beautiful imagery:
While the Armenians, Georgians and Chechens may be most familiar, there are countless other peoples in the Caucasus who staunchly retain their own ethnic identities. Geographic names usually reflect a portion of an area’s ethnic population, but by no means can a geographic name be mistaken for ethnic homogeneity. Linguistic and religious differences also occur within a seemingly distinct ethnicity. Refugee and emigrant populations further confound the picture.
Abkhazians, Chechens and Ossetians are present in both Georgia and Russia; each group is struggling to gain some degree of autonomy. Abkhazians and Ossetians, which are distinct ethnic groups with their own languages, are largely Orthodox Christians.
For more about the Caucasus region read, Where Europe Meets Asia.
23 September 2011
Tags: Georgia Monastery Georgian Orthodox Church Caucasus
Roman’s Girls, a Catholic initiative in Addis Ababa, assists about 20 girls with school.
(photo: Peter Lemieux)
Today marks the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere — the first day of fall.
For a lot of children, the return of fall means returning to school. In the countries CNEWA serves, Catholic schools are often the only institutions providing an education in regions where quality education is a luxury. Meki Catholic School in central Ethiopia is one example. In An Uphill Battle, Peter Lemieux explored some of the challenges young women in Meki, Ethiopia face in their quest to achieve a higher education:
If growing up in Ethiopia these days were a race, these children would appear to be off to a good start. But a closer look reveals an unfair contest, one that favors the boys.
While Meki Catholic School makes every effort to maintain gender balance — an equal number of boys and girls make up its primary grades — the number of girls enrolled in the school’s secondary classes drops sharply. For the girls fortunate enough to remain in school, the harsh reality of Ethiopia’s tradition of gender disparity hits harder than a stiff headwind in a 50-yard dash.
Against a metal fence enclosing the school grounds, Messeret Yohannes, an 18-year-old senior, discusses the future with her girlfriends. All expect to go to college. And all hope to become professionals either in accounting, banking, education or medicine. Given the school’s outstanding achievements, high aspirations such as theirs are certainly realistic. From among the graduating class, 94 percent are expected to attend college, compared to 30 to 35 percent nationally.
For more, check out the May 2009 issue of ONE. Also, if you are interested in learning how you can help children in Ethiopia attend school, visit our website for more information.
22 September 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Catholic education Women (rights/issues) Catholic Schools
An elderly refugee from Azerbaijan languishes in an unsanitary government housing project. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
Photographer Armineh Johannes’ enthralling photos from the story, Pensioners in Crisis exposed a harsh reality for a group of Armenians too often forgotten — the elderly:
“When we escaped Azerbaijan in 1988, the state gave us temporary asylum here with assurances we would receive an apartment later,” said the 80-year-old widow. “But they forgot about us,” she continued, repeatedly pressing her face into her open hands.
A “refugee,” Mrs. Sargsian is among the thousands of Armenians who fled their homes in neighboring Azerbaijan in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
“Who needs a life like this? I don’t want to live in these inhumane conditions,” she added, gesturing at her run-down studio apartment.
Sonya Sargsian resides in a dilapidated government-owned building housing impoverished pensioners and the homeless — one of three clustered in a forgotten suburb of Yerevan, the Armenian capital. Built as a student dormitory after World War II, the building has not been renovated since its construction. Residents share a common bathroom, which barely functions. Decrepit plumbing supplies water at irregular intervals.
For more about the state of Armenia’s senior citizens, read the story, Pensioners in Crisis, by Gayane Abrahamyan, in the January 2008 issue of ONE.
Tags: Refugees Armenia Caucasus