“Being a Shalom missionary in a foreign land is a Grace of God. I am touching the lives of a people that was previously unknown to me and now they have become my people”, says Vanda Santos who has been the Responsible for the Shalom Community Mission for 7 years in the city of Antsiranana, Madagascar.
According to Vanda, as the nation is very poor, the Missionary reality of Madagascar is very different from other Shalom Missions, because it is surrounded with not only material poverty but also spiritual. “I feel completely exposed to so many difficult realities, but I also feel fully protected by God’s Grace, realizing that His powerful actions perform in all extremes.”
Evangelization and mission
The Mission has 6 missionaries and apostolates. We work with about 40 children, evangelize door-to-door and have prayer groups including one in the city’s prison, where we also provide a guitar course for the inmates. “The people had no hope and had little dignity; but since the Community arrived 11 years ago, we can see in the faces of the Malagasy people a newly found hope and joy, a desire to know and experience the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Shalom missionaries in Madagascar work hard day after day without expecting anything in return except the gift of Joy. “In addition to children and young people, we enhance the life of the local Church. It is a poor church, but wants to bring hope.”
One of the major challenges of the Mission, which shares its food with five other families, is a financial one. In this country, 90% of the population is poor: children are malnourished, the head of a family earns just over 20 cents a day- there is no basic income for buying sufficient food and clothes. “In Brazil it is very easy to tell a person ‘Jesus loves you’ in an evangelization. But in Madagascar, in the African lands, we cannot say something like this when we evangelize because life is so different as there is such widespread poverty. We must go to the poor man’s house with food so that he can truly understand that Jesus loves him through sharing.”
Vanda has lived in several Shalom Missions and has had many different experiences, but for her what is common to all of them is the realization that as a missionary she has the Grace of God’s sovereignty to give and preserve human dignity, not only on a spiritual level but on a practical one as well. The cooking classes she and her team teach is a good example. “In the course, people come without any food and without knowing how to feed their children. They learn how to make a simple cake and at the end of the course, they receive a sum of money to buy the ingredients. They can then make cakes at home and sell them and so begin to have the financial resources to feed their children.”
In Madagascar, Vanda has truly known human, spiritual and moral poverty. But nonetheless, she and the other Shalom members have experienced a lot of happiness.
This and various other initiatives of the Shalom Catholic Community are carried out with the help of benefactors who take up with us the commitment to promote a culture of peace in the world which awaits the manifestation of the children of God (Rom 8:19).
Do you want to take this mission with us? Support us!
If you’d like to donate by bank transfer, here are the Banca Prossima codes:
COMUNITA’ CATTOLICA SHALOM – International Assistance
Current Account: 100000008887 | Bank: Banca Prossima
MILAN BRANCH | 20121 – PIAZZA PAOLO FERRARI 10 – MILAN
For the transfer from abroad the following codes must be used:
BIC receiving bank (SWIFT): BCITITMX