By Donatien Nyembo, SJ
Pope Francis recently donated medicines to help children cared for at an orphanage on the outskirts of Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo.
The Pope had originally received a request from them for this help regarding the need for certain types of medicine that are rarely available locally and are extremely expensive.
In early October, the medicines treating sickle cell disease were delivered to the orphanage’s director, Sister Elise Vouakouanitou, supplied by the Vatican’s Apostolic Almoner and the local Nunciature.
In her handwritten letter, dated 3 October 2021 and signed by all the children of the orphanage, Sister Elise makes her own the words the hymn from Morning Prayer and asks, “Who then is God to love us thus, sons and daughters of the earth?”
“By these medicines,” she writes, “we believe and affirm that the Lord has visited us through you… In turn, we bless Him and implore His grace and strength upon you.”
Sister Elise writes, “A great thank you to God, to you and to your nunciature in Congo-Brazzaville for your great concern for us. Through this gesture, we realize that the title of your last encyclical letter is not in vain, but an agenda of the work and mission that you have accepted in the name of Christ by the Church: Yes, we affirm that we are all brothers (Fratelli tutti).”
In an interview with Vatican News, the consecrated sister from Brazzaville revealed that she is working with a limited means, but has the support of an Italian association to provide a home for more than 20 orphaned and abandoned children.
They also provide them with a general education inspired by Christian values, especially those of love and universal fraternity.
Sister Elise reported that she had sick children in her orphanage, especially sickle cell patients, whose treatment can be difficult in a country where medicines are generally imported.
In addition to the issue of local production, the inaccessibility of medicines is also due to their high cost. But they hope the medicines provided by Pope Francis will go a long way in their efforts caring for the orphanage’s children.