My dear Friends, Greetings! I hope you are well. On 12th to 14th of this month we had another Sector meeting in Merrivale where we discussed especially different points to prepare our Chapter of next year; a Chapter is a special meeting held every six years at our General House in Rome; it can last many weeks. It is there that we evaluate the last six years and plan for the future orientations of our Society of the Missionaries of Africa. The delegates will also elect a new Superior General with his Council of four members. Our actual General team is composed thus: the Superior General is a Ghanaian, and his four assistants are from DR Congo, Mexico, England and Belgium.
One important aspect of our work in the last six years has been to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the anti-slavery campaign led by our founder, Cardinal Lavigerie from 1888 onward.1 One of our confreres, Fr. Jean-Pierre Le Scour, is very active in this line in the area of Malelane and Komatipoort, and as far as in Mozambique. Here is an extract from the report he gave at our last meeting.
“The month of September has been marked by an increase in the number of children disappearing, aged between 8 and 14 years. One of them was able to fight off the aggressor but was hit with a broken bottle in the race and received 8 stitches. I have organised a workshop in all the schools about the dangers of living in a small border town and given a course in self-defence to a few volunteers.
Following my latest reports, good contacts have been established with the CTIP (Counter Trafficking In Persons Office – of the Bishops’ Conference). A meeting has been set for the 5th October at Khanya House – Offices of the Bishops’ Conference in Pretoria) to meet with a delegation from the Vatican. Workshops are being conducted in the Nkomazi District as well as in Mozambique.
The sale of human organs from Mozambique to South Africa continues and with the increase of children disappearing, it is a very worrying trend. A few years ago, a Brazilian Sister was murdered in Nampula – Mozambique – for denouncing that practice. On 8th September 2015, an albino child was sold by his parents in Nampula again. The cases that surface are only the tip of the iceberg.” We cannot gauge how far our anti-slavery campaign has produced fruit, but the fact is that Pope Francis is taking a very keen interest in this issue and he already has taken some very decisive actions in this domain; not only within the Church, but also with Governments of many nations where the problem is more acute. And we know that the British Parliament as well as the United Nations are strongly supporting his efforts. At the end of this Mission Month, let us ask the Spirit of God to help us have “A Passion for Jesus and for his People” (theme chosen by Pope Francis for this year’s Mission Month), especially those who suffer the most. Let us pray and act in favour of victims of human trafficking. God bless you all!