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Spring, 2014
Volume 40, Number 1
imageofweek From the Archive
In this 1996 image, children attend a festival in New York celebrating Greek heritage. (photo: Karen Lagerquist)
  
31 July 2014
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2006, Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga presides over the Sunday liturgy at St. Nicholas Church in Kampala, Uganda. To learn more about Orthodoxy’s growth in Uganda, read Orthodox Africa in the March 2006 edition of ONE. (photo: Tugela Ridley)



Tags: Africa Orthodox Church Patriarchate of Alexandria
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30 July 2014
Greg Kandra




Father Adris Hanna celebrates the Eucharist at greater Stockholm’s Syriac Catholic Church. (photo: Magnus Aronson)

With the news these days full of stories of refugees, we were reminded of a story in ONE from three years ago, about refugees from the Middle East who had settled in Sweden:

On an early December morning, 33-year-old Ramiz Toma stops his taxi in front of a home in one of Stockholm’s posh residential neighborhoods. Mr. Toma waits a few minutes until his client, a well-dressed businessman, approaches the car and swiftly takes a seat in the back. Mr. Toma then drives off down the street, still white from the night’s snowfall, and heads to the airport.

After a short while, the man glances at Mr. Toma’s identity badge on the dashboard and breaks the silence. “Where are you from?,” he asks.

“I am an Iraqi Christian,” responds the driver.

“Christian?” replies the man with surprise.

Mr. Toma nods with a faint smile.

“I didn’t know there were Christians in Iraq,” the man continues.

Mr. Toma catches the man’s regard through the rearview mirror. He politely but briefly tells him that, though a minority, Christians have always lived in Iraq. The man says nothing. After a few moments, Mr. Toma turns up the radio and drives on.

Mr. Toma knows his employer, the largest taxi company in Stockholm, discourages its drivers from chatting at length with clients, especially about politics and religion.

After dropping off the client at the airport, Mr. Toma admits he had wanted to say much more about Iraq’s Christians — their ancient history, different denominations, the suffering they have endured since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, even the recent memorial service he attended at his church in Stockholm honoring a Christian woman brutally murdered in her home in Baghdad.

Mr. Toma first came to Sweden in 2000, when the country’s policy toward Iraqi refugees still ranked as the most generous in the world. Believing Sweden a promised land, thousands of Iraqis clamored for asylum at its embassy in Baghdad.

With support from his family, the 23-year-old managed to travel to Sweden and obtain refugee status. However, as do most refugees, the young man struggled at first to adjust to life in Sweden, facing the usual challenges of language and culture.

However, a much larger and more complex problem afflicts Sweden’s Iraqi population: an alarmingly high unemployment rate. According to a recent study, among Iraqis living in Sweden for ten or more years, 73 percent of women and 60 percent of men are unemployed. Some experts attribute the high unemployment rate to the fact that Iraqis in Sweden, particularly Christians, are often well educated. Many had once belonged to Iraq’s affluent middle class. As a result, they have difficulty either landing or settling for one of the mostly unskilled jobs available to them. …

“My faith is the foundation for everything that matters in my life. Just as Jesus showed us his love, we learn to view other people with love when we go to church and listen to his words,” he says.

Mr. Toma’s parents still live in Iraq. And during his first few years in Sweden, he thought for certain he would one day return there and reunite with them. But as the years passed, he planted roots and now considers Sweden home. To his surprise, he even feels more comfortable now among Swedes than he does among his compatriots back in Iraq.

“When I go to Iraq to visit my family, I can’t stand being there for more than a week. It’s not the same people,” he explains. “Everything has changed. Here in Sweden, maybe I haven’t yet been accepted as a Swede. But I feel accepted in Swedish society. And for that I am grateful.”

Today, more than 170,000 Iraqis or persons of Iraqi descent live in Sweden. Iraqis first began coming to Sweden in the early 1980’s during the Iran-Iraq war. Immigration, however, reached its peak in 2007, when Swedish authorities granted asylum to 85 percent of the 20,000 Iraqis who requested it.

Read more about A Nordic Refuge No More from the May 2011 issue of ONE.



Tags: Cultural Identity Iraqi Christians Iraqi Refugees Sweden
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29 July 2014
Greg Kandra




Catholic sisters light candles spelling “peace” in Arabic in front of the altar during Mass in the Church of St. Catherine in Bethlehem, West Bank, on 27 July. Parishes throughout the West Bank celebrated special Masses for Gaza, Iraq and Syria. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)



Tags: Sisters Catholic Gaza Strip/West Bank Israeli-Palestinian conflict Middle East Peace Process
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25 July 2014
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis eats with Vatican workers during a surprise visit to the Vatican cafeteria on 25 July. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Workers at the Vatican got a surprise visitor today at lunch:

Taking the chef completely by surprise, Pope Francis unexpectedly showed up to eat with the Vatican’s blue collar workers at their cafeteria in the tiny city-state’s “industrial park.”

“He showed up, got his tray, silverware, he stood in line and we served him,” the cafeteria’s chef, Franco Paini, told Vatican Radio on 25 July.

He acted “normally, like the humblest of the workers,” Paini said, his voice still trembling from the thrill. “Please forgive me, I’m still excited, you know?”

Wearing his white cassock and zucchetto, the pope grabbed an orange plastic tray and chose what he wanted from the array of prepared foods.

He got a plate of pasta without sauce; a portion of cod; a whole wheat roll; some “au gratin” vegetables; a few French fries; an apple; and a bottle of spring water -- but not the fizzy, bubbly kind, witnessed reported.

“I didn’t have the courage to give him the bill,” said Claudia Di Giacomo, who was sitting behind the cash register.

Paini said the pope made everyone feel at ease. “We introduced ourselves, he asked how we were, what it was like working there, he paid us compliments; it was really nice.”

The cafeteria in the Vatican’s “industrial area” serves employees who work as technicians, electricians, plumbers, metalworkers, craftsmen, but also employees of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

The pope sat down to eat at a table with workers from the Vatican pharmacy’s warehouse. Wearing dark blue uniform polo shirts, the men spoke to the pope about their jobs and the pope talked about his Italian heritage.

Table talk also included soccer and the economy, the Vatican newspaper reported.

CNS has more.



Tags: Pope Francis Vatican Rome Cuisine
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23 July 2014
Greg Kandra




Father Paul Achandy offers the Eucharist to patients at the Amala Hospital in Trichur, India. To read more about the health care ministry in Kerala, check out Healing Kerala’s Health Care from the September 2011 issue of ONE. (photo: Peter Lemieux)



Tags: India Health Care Kerala
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22 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Iraqi refugee children had found some stability in Syria before civil war erupted. Today, Foreign Policy in Focus writes: “Syria — a host country to 540,000 Palestinian refugees and, at its peak in 2007, 1.5 million Iraqi refugees — now faces its own refugee crisis.” With your help, CNEWA continues to work for, through and with the local churches and religious to help those enduring war in both Iraq and Syria. (photo: Spencer Osberg)



Tags: Syria Syrian Civil War Children Refugees Iraqi Refugees
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21 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Marcie Alter pets Dennis, a therapy dog that visits patients at the St. Louis Hospital in Jerusalem once a week. To learn more about this institution’s good work, read An Oasis of Compassion, from the September 2012 issue of ONE. (photo: Debbie Hill)



Tags: Sisters Jerusalem Health Care
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18 July 2014
Greg Kandra




A senior chef and his students at the Naipunya Institute proudly exhibit their entrees. (photo: Peter Lemieux)

Several years ago, we took readers on a culinary adventure to discover the cuisine of Kerala enjoyed by Christians, Hindus and Muslims:

“If you enjoy food, you should come to Kerala!” said Father Sebastian Kalapurackal, a Syro-Malabar Catholic priest and director of Naipunya Institute of Management and Information Technology, which boasts one of the state’s top hotel management programs. Each year, the program graduates some 100 students, many of whom land jobs with five-star hotels, major cruise lines and airline companies.

Keralites unquestionably take great pride in their local cuisine — and for good reason. Its diversity and sophistication have earned the state worldwide fame.

What is more, it is unique. A narrow strip of coastland bounded to the east by the Western Ghats (mountains) and to the west by the Arabian Sea, Kerala has been largely disconnected from the rest of India for much of its history. Isolated from the prevailing trends of Indian cooking, Keralites developed a distinct culinary tradition unlike any other on the subcontinent.

Read more about What’s Cooking in Kerala — and discover some recipes — in the November 2008 issue of ONE.



Tags: India Cultural Identity Kerala Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Cuisine
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17 July 2014
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2003, Anduamlak Getnet and his older brother, Melesa, prepare food for their blind grandmother. The boys lost both of their parents to AIDS. (photo: Peter Lemieux)

Several years ago, we visited a bleak corner of Ethiopia, and found a flicker of light in the darkness:

Anduamlak Getnet was too young to remember the night six years ago when he was gently pulled away from his dead mother’s breast. Nor does he remember the moment when his father died — both parents succumbing to AIDS. According to the Ministry of Health, Anduamlak is one of the one million AIDS orphans living in Ethiopia right now. With no social welfare system in place, their childhood memories will be short and not always sweet.

Yet 7-year-old Anduamlak and his brother, Melesa, 10, are more fortunate than many orphans. They moved in with their blind grandmother — their lone relative. She tries her best to help them, but at age 80, disabilities limit her. So rather than care for them, Anduamlak and Melesa care for her. They wash the clothes, prepare the food, scavenge for firewood, water the chat plants and, when they find time, study their textbooks.

In spite of having no parents and no income, and living in a country that the World Food Program claims has the lowest primary education enrollment rate in the world, the brothers actually do study. Anduamlak and Melesa have this opportunity thanks largely to CNEWA’s needy child program. This program, which assists just over 29,000 children in 10 countries, provides assistance — in the form of school tuition, uniforms, materials, food, medical care, counseling and even shelter — to almost 5,000 of the neediest children in Ethiopia.

Read more about A Flicker of Candlelight Amid the Darkness from the September 2003 edition of the magazine. And to learn how you can help the children of Ethiopia today, visit this page.



Tags: Children Ethiopia
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16 July 2014
Greg Kandra




A worker at the Olive Branch Foundation puts the finishing touches on dove peace lamps.
(photo: Miriam Sushman)


Three years ago, we profiled a village in Palestine, where there was an unsual effort underway to promote peace:

Father Ra’ed’s greatest contribution has been the Olive Branch Foundation, a nonprofit he founded and runs. The business includes a small ceramics factory and most recently an olive press and machinery to make and package olive oil and olive–based soap and cosmetic products from locally grown olives.

The priest’s business endeavors began five years ago, when one day at church he displayed some of his handmade white ceramic lamps in the shape of doves. He filled them with locally produced olive oil, placed them near the altar and encouraged parishioners to light them and pray for peace. Delighted by the “peace” lamps, parishioners quickly spread the word to neighbors from other congregations, and in no time, residents inundated Father Ra’ed with requests for lamps of their own.

Seeing an opportunity to promote peace and generate income for the local community, Father Ra’ed intensified production, hiring a small team of local craftsmen, and began selling the lamps to faithful throughout the region and beyond.

“I use the lamp to put pressure on the heavens to make peace in the Holy Land,” says the priest.

So far, the foundation has produced and sold more than 80,000 lamps, “flying them,” as he says, “around the world like little birds until peace comes.”

Read more about Taybeh, “A Town Named ‘Good’,” in the July 2011 issue of ONE.



Tags: Christianity Palestine Emigration
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