(ANS - Ankililoaka) - In Ankililoaka, in the south-western area of Madagascar, the Salesian mission represents an important point of reference for the local population. The Salesians of Don Bosco are concerned with offering them hospitality, medical assistance, education, but - above all - help and hope. One of them, Fr Giovanni Corselli, a missionary in the country for almost 40 years, interviewed by the news agency Fides, describes how his life changed when, in September 2019, he arrived in the missionary district of Ankililoaka, where he had started the Salesian work with the current Bishop of Moramanga, Mons.Rosario Vella, SDB, back in September 1981.
“After having always been in small villages, in the field,” writes Fr Corselli, “at the age of 76, they appointed me director here in Ankililoaka. It is important for us to be close to people. In our community we strive to carry out work of evangelization and human promotion by trying to educate young people and the population to work together, stimulating them to reflect and seek their own autonomy. The main problem,” continues the missionary, “is that of water, of which unfortunately we have seen a dramatic decrease in recent years. The rains have decreased and for an agricultural population that expects everything from the rains it becomes problematic to be able to make ends meet. This year it has rained almost nothing and people have collected little. In its social structure, the population retains many characteristics of village life. Most retain the traditions of the ancestors. The Coronavirus pandemic has also been added, which continues to rage and has increased the restrictions, which for the people who live day-by-day, become unbearable.”
“Of course,” explains Fr Giovanni, “in this context, the last thing parents think about is the education of their children. Despite the presence and use of social media, the population is not very open to the outside world. This creates a lot of difficulties for education and evangelization, our main objectives. For this reason, we try to let the little ones study, to educate the parents and, indirectly, to direct them to profitable activities of various kinds in order to become autonomous. In Ankililoaka we have 14 elementary schools in the villages with a school population of 2,599 pupils, a large middle school and a high school with around 750 pupils. In addition, the Trinitarian Sisters of Valenza, who work with us, run a dispensary and an elementary and kindergarten school with about 700 students.”
“Wherever I worked,” concludes the missionary, “both in Tulear in the context of parish activities and neighborhood animation, vocational school, women's promotion, elementary school for recovery, and in Benaneviky, a very extensive first evangelization missionary district, with connection difficulties, elementary schools in the villages, construction of wells, I was able to see that for the people we are a point of reference, and that they need to be helped, encouraged, animated and supported. We do not get discouraged and we entrust ourselves to the Lord and to the Virgin Mary Help of Christians and even if progress is very slow we continue to fight and encourage.”
- MDG MADAGASCAR