Santos the Woodcarver – two years later…

In 2005, Dave Tacon brought us the story of Santos, a woodcarver in Sierra Leone. To recap, Santo’s right hand was amputated by dissident soldiers when he was in his teens. Struggling to recover from this incident, and the civil war that was crippling his country, Santos sought shelter in the Freetown Amputee Camp.

one of Santos’ chimp wood carvings – click for larger imageThe nuns from the Cluny Sisters Catholic Mission helped Santos to identify and build upon his natural ability as a wood sculptor. The nuns assisted by organising an apprenticeship for him with a local woodcarver. He gradually earned enough to rent a shed, to use as a workshop. With your contributions to Melbourne Overseas Missions, Santos was able to purchase better equipment and further attain his rightful place in Santos and family – click to view larger imagesociety.

Two years on, Santos has a steady job at the Tacuguma Chimpanzee Sanctuary, making carvings which are sold to the public. He is independent, happy and in great shape. At the end of last year, Santos and his wife Isata became parents to a beautiful baby girl – Fiona – ever increasing their happiness.

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Visit to PNG

Bishop Chris Prowse
with photographs by Dave Tacon

After clouds blocked his planned visit to missionary stations in the mountains of Kerema diocese in Papua New Guinea, Melbourne Auxiliary Bishop Christopher Prowse in PNGChristopher Prowse was forced to limit his pastoral visit to a lower altitude parish where he found much to impress him in the evangelising work of the Melbourne Overseas Mission.

Writing in the Melbourne diocesan publication Kairos, Bishop Prowse says that he had planned to visit Mgr John Flynn from Melbourne who “has served faithfully in the mountainous missionary stations of the Kerema Diocese in Papua New Guinea for many years, presently as the much loved parish priest of Kanabea”.

According to Bishop Prowse, “Fr John”, as he is known locally, is continuing a tradition of Melbourne Overseas Mission (MOM) contribution to Kanabea pastoral life that started in the late 1960s under former Melbourne Archbishop Cardinal James Knox.

“I was also keen to observe first hand the commitment of MOM to these regions,” Bishop Prowse writes.

“But the mission station had been covered in thick cloud for several months, and no aircraft was able to land at the station’s airstrip,” he added.

John Flynn in Kanabea, PNG Unable to visit Kanabea, Bishop Prowse was nevertheless able to speak to Fr John by radio. “Via others, I sent him some small gifts that included a letter from Archbishop Denis Hart, the Archbishop of Melbourne”.

Meanwhile, Bishop Prowse spent time at the parish of Bema lower down the mountain range.

“Bema also has strong links with the Archdiocese of Melbourne,” Bishop Prowse says.

A Melbourne priest Fr Patrick Harvey was parish priest for several years. Another Melbourne priest, Fr Peter Cullen died in an aircraft crash in the area in 1976, he writes.

“Bema has been the grateful recipient of generosity from Melbourne via MOM – many of the facilities that I inspected – schools, parish buildings, hydro-electrical equipment, tractor, and so forth – are all gifts from the organisation,” Bishop Prowse says.

Bishop Prowse – Kamina, PNG “Wherever we went, the simplicity of lifestyle, the friendliness of the shy parishioners, and the educational opportunities offered to an isolated culture were omnipresent, and so was the practical help of MOM!”

However, Bishop Prowse also noted the uncertain future that Papua New Guinea seems to face.

“Political inaction, corruption, and violence continue there unabated. I found this most evident in Port Moresby. The chilling advice of one local was that at night if one hears the sound of dogs barking and cars arriving at your residence, then you must remain in bed.

Kanabea, above the clouds, PNG “Under no circumstances ought one turn on lights or open doors. ‘Raskols’ roam certain streets with evil intent. Also, malaria and HIV-AIDS are national problems of the highest level,” he writes.

“Yet, the work of evangelisation continues. How happy I was to experience first-hand the Melbourne Archdiocese’s small but significant contribution in the Gulf Province of PNG and beyond!” Bishop Prowse concludes.

Visiting our MOM (Kairos, 1 October 2006)

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Tsunami Aid in Nias

Order of St Lazarus – Asia Disaster Relief
2005 – 2006
Following the disastrous Tsunami on Boxing Day 2004, hundreds of thousands of people from the west coast of the Indian Ocean to the east coast of Africa lost their lives.
Within hours of the disaster, the Grand Masters of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem put into motion the Asia Disaster Relief Programme, focusing on the distribution of rice other basic foods, the construction of up to 100 fishing boats as well as reconstruction and repair of 30 schools and the building of Lazarus Module Homes.

This project has focused its efforts on the island of Nias – located off the east coast of Sumatra.

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Photos from Sierra Leone

These are pictures of Sierra Leone brought to us by Sr. Ann Stevens who has returned to Melbourne briefly. Please click on an image below to view a larger version.

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