From the desk of Fr. Lance P. Nadeau, M.M.
When I was a young missioner I had hoped to be assigned to a mission in Japan. But God had other plans for me. Instead, I would serve over thirty years in active mission on the continent of Africa.
Jesus promises those that have left family for Him and the gospel that they will have one hundred times brothers, sisters, parents and children (Mark 10). And in my life that has been true. I have shared in the family life of so many people of different religions, cultures and languages during my time in Africa that I know the promises of the Lord are true. I have been blessed the hundred-fold way that Jesus promised. I am thankful for the people of Africa for providing me with blessings that have sustained my vocation as a missioner.
Although my present position keeps me far from Africa, the African people remain forever in my heart. So you can understand my concern when I read reports in the newspaper that Eastern Africa was in “crisis.” The newspaper made the situation sound dire, but Africa has experienced more than its fair share of crises over the last hundred years.
I immediately reached out to my fellow missioners on the ground in Africa who could provide first-hand accounts of what was really happening. The appeals for help I received were anguishing. As fate had it, my presence was required in Nairobi and I was able to see the situation for myself. My friends, I’ve spent more than thirty years in Africa and the situation is as bad as I have ever seen it.
Severe drought has dried up water resources in much of Kenya and millions of people lack access to clean water. Recurrent droughts have destroyed livelihoods, triggered local conflicts over scarce resources, and eroded the ability of communities to cope.
There has been some rain in Tanzania but it’s woefully inadequate. The lack of rainfall has killed off most of the cattle and sheep there. In South Sudan, one is considered lucky if they get to eat one meal a day. This lack of food and political turmoil causes people to flee to Uganda in search of food and security, causing a refugee crisis.
Drought conditions have caused mass starvation in Kenya, South Sudan and Tanzania. Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers are desperately trying to bring relief, delivering food, clean water and as much HOPE as humanly possible to children and their families.
The coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine has magnified the grim situation in Africa, impacting food supply chains and forcing many families to pay higher prices for life-sustaining food as well as fuel and fertilizer that allows them to work and farm.
Maryknoll Father John Waldrep, who works in the area of food intervention in Kenya, tells us that in early 2019, the government declared a national drought emergency. Since then, the number of people at risk of hunger has doubled from 1.3 million to 2.7 million and over 250,000 Kenyan children as well as pregnant and nursing mothers are acutely malnourished.
During the last few years, Maryknoll Father Michael Bassano has provided food assistance in the war-ravaged city of Malakal in northeastern South Sudan. He says the pandemic has aggravated food shortages there and people, especially those displaced by the previous civil war, are in desperate need of food.
To make this life-threatening emergency infinitely worse, a multitude of other crises amplify the deadly situation across Eastern Africa, including locust infestations; civil war; political strife and multiple disease outbreaks including cholera and measles.
All of these tragic events have contributed to the destruction of farms, the depletion of harvests, a worsening food crisis and, most heartbreaking of all, the loss of precious life.
As I pray about this tragic situation, you come to mind as a faithful friend who is quick to answer our call to comfort and care for the afflicted. We are so very grateful for your faithfulness.
In Galatians 6:2 we are encouraged to carry each other’s burdens, and in this way fulfill the law of Christ. Your continued willingness to offer support – to work in the fields of the Lord’s harvest – remind Maryknoll missioners every day that we are not alone. Please know how much your faithful support means to me and to the many, many lives you’ve
helped save. I am overwhelmed by your generosity.
I pray you will be able to help us provide life-saving help in the midst of this crisis and please know you are always remembered in our prayers.