The history of Camillian missions is almost a secular history. In the 17th century, the first century of the Order’s life, Camillian religious were engaged in Italy, where there were lots of dramatic situations with the repeated epidemics and pestilences, during which the Camillians gave witness to heroic charity. One of these was the famous plague in Milan in 1630, in which more than 25 Camillian religious died as “martyrs of charity.” Besides, Camillians were called upon to bring aid to the wounded in the numerous bloody wars that raged throughout Europe (for example, the Hungarian campaign in 1595, the Thirty Years’ War in 1627, in Spain and Portugal). It is not without reason that Camillians have been recognized as the precursors of the International Red Cross.
Missions in distant countries in a more stable form began in 1710, with the first foundations in Latin America in Lima, Peru, followed by centres in Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, and Mexico. For a few decades from the end of the eighteenth century, the Camillian Order seemed to reach extinction, because of the laws of Emperor Joseph II and because of the radical suppression by Napoleon. After the Napoleonic storm, the Order slowly recovered, and new missions began again. In 1867, the first Camillians, led by Fr. Stanislao Carcereri, left for Sudan alongside Fr. Daniele Comboni, now a saint. Unfortunately, that first expedition was short-lived, and it would take almost a century to see new missionary expeditions to Africa and other continents. Today, Camillians are present in many countries in all five continents (Italy, France, Spain, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Georgia, Armenia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, North America, Burkina Faso, Benin, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Haiti, India, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and Pakistan).
In 1996, Salute e Sviluppo (SeS) became part of this long history under the guidance of Fr. Efisio Locci. Born by the will of the Superior General Frank Monks and the Consulta of the Order in implementation of a decision of the General Chapter, SeS is constituted as a Non-Governmental Organization to support the activities of Camillian religious, who work as its local partners in developing countries. The objective is to improve the health conditions of those populations, and to contribute to their growth and autonomy. Since then, SeS has been one of the pillars of the Camillian missions.
The projects of SeS intervene mainly in the socio-health and human development sectors, building hospitals, schools and aqueducts, and implementing food and livestock production. All interventions are aimed at achieving their own sustainability, and are characterized by a highly formative approach to the local population.
The projects already implemented and concluded with the contribution of SeS are now over a hundred, from the smallest ones costing a few thousand euros to the largest ones that exceed the cost of one million euros. God’s Providence, through the public and private donors, has been truly great, which we will never cease to acknowledge and thank.
We would like to recall some of the projects currently underway. They focus on emergency situations in West Africa, Central Africa, and Asia.
In the Central African Republic, the initiatives aim to improve socio-health conditions in the area of Bossemptélé, Diocese of Buar.
One example is the project to strengthen health services at the John Paul II Hospital, run by the Camillian Religious at Bossemptélé, which aims to improve access to health services for the vulnerable population, and to increase its ability to reach neighbouring villages with a mobile clinic and home care service. The hospital has been upgraded with the provision of medicines, medical instruments, biomedical equipment and increased service delivery. The health staff has been trained in orthopaedic, paediatric, pharmaceutical services, and in laboratory analysis. Thanks to this intervention, 4300 persons, including 1250 children, can now benefit from hospital and medical services.
In West Africa, in Burkina Faso, two innovative projects have been launched to improve the socio-economic development of the Tenkodogo area: The “L’Oro di Bagrè” project to increase the cultivation, production and marketing of rice; and the “Latte Sano” project. Tenkodogo is part of the province of Boulgou, where 55.1% of people live below poverty line, and has serious limitations in access to basic health services, education, drinking water, and in the ability to generate income.
With these initiatives, rice production and productivity techniques have been improved, facilitating access to them by the people of the area, and meeting their food needs. Traditional agriculture has been transformed into modern agriculture, providing innovative agricultural tools and adequate technical-professional training.
After having built many health facilities in developing countries and having contributed significantly to their growth, now more than ever Salute e Sviluppo is called upon by our missionaries to help the poorest patients who are unable to pay for the services provided by health facilities. I am referring in particular to hospitals in the poorest countries of the world, such as those in Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Benin, Ivory Coast, not to mention those in Kenya, Armenia, Georgia, etc. … In this regard, SeS intends to establish the Camillian Missions AMOC Fund dedicated to this purpose. The acronym AMOC stands for Assicurazione Malati Opere Camilliane (Insurance for the Sick in Camillian Institutions). The fund will be utilized for the reimbursement of medical expenses of needy sick people, who are under the care of Camillian health facilities and are subscribed to AMOC. We ask all readers of Missione e Salute to contribute to this fund, whose utilization reports will be made public on the website of SeS. The donations received will be eligible for tax deductions by law.
We trust that, through this new initiative, God’s Providence will continue to help us.