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Monday, May 29, 2017

ONE WORLD RELIGION WATCH: Ivory Coast, where "deep respect" binds Christians and Muslims

ONE WORLD RELIGION WATCH: Ivory Coast, where "deep respect" binds Christians and Muslims 
More propaganda paving the way for the Formal apostate Church of Darkness coming Rome
"Stories of coexistence between believers in Christ and followers of Islam. Journey to the North of the African Country, where Missionary of the Consolata support and strengthen the good ties that unite the faithful of the two religions."

"To say that in this area of the Ivory Coast, Christians and Muslims tolerate each other would mean downsizing the phenomenon. Here mutual respect runs deep: there is love. "These are the words of Father Matteo Pettinari, 36, a missionary of the Consolata. Since 2011, he has been living in Dianra, a small town in the northern part of the African country. With him live two confreres and together they are responsible for a mission that covers a territory of about 3,000 square kilometers, including the two sub-prefectures of Dianra, inhabited predominantly by the Senufo ethnic group (who are Christians, Muslims and animists), and that of Dianra Village where instead the majority of the population belongs to the Mandinka ethnicity (Muslims). Altogether, there are about 100,000 inhabitants: Catholics are less than 2%, Evangelicals are 3%, over 65% are Muslims, and 30% follow the traditional religion.

A fertile ground for religion
Father Matteo points out that to understand the nature of relations between Christians and Muslims in this area of Ivory Coast, a premise is needed, "The Humus here is religious: there is certainty of the presence of God and the belief of depending on Him. Something that is also reflected in the current language: for example, to wish a quick recovery people say, "May God give you health soon"; To say goodbye, they use the expression "May God give you a good day." God exists and is close to men and women: this faith unites everyone. Consequently, there is a genuine, deep respect, between Christians and Muslims. We, missionaries are called "men of God"; Muslims often ask us to pray for them or to remember during mass their deceased Catholic relatives. In the Senufo area, marriages between Christians and Muslims are very frequent."

Strengthen ties
When the fathers of the Consolata arrived in this territory in 2001, they decided to start a “lightweight” mission, with small structures that could be run by the population and could employ properly trained young people. "We, missionaries have always involved everyone in our works by encouraging and strengthening the bonds between Christians, Muslims and followers of traditional religion" Father Matteo says, "Proximity and fraternity guide our choices and our taking care of this population who lives with simplicity and has suffered a great deal of pain and deprivation during a nearly ten-year-long conflict. The northern part of Ivory Coast has remained in the hands of the rebels from 2002 to 2011 and for all this time there were no state officials, no doctors, no teachers."

Health centers
Over the years, missionaries have opened small healthcare homes in some villages and a healthcare center in the village of Dianra, where presently, the dental studio is under construction, while the maternity ward is already operational. "At first, the population was very distrustful: they would prefer relying on local healers, but the situation is slowly changing and the number of patients is increasing" Father Matteo says. "The staff of the Dianra Village Health Center – where last year, over 1,300 prenatal consultations and 6,000 medical examinations were carried out - counts 14 people. Among them, there are young Christians and Senufo Muslims for whom we had paid training expenses and today are professional nurses and healthcare providers who work together with great spirit of collaboration. "To counteract malnutrition, missionaries have also launched a program involving eleven villages: children are constantly followed and mothers are offered staple food along with a special, and highly nutritious preparation.
The Muslim doctor
The first doctor who served in the Dianra Village is Abudu Sumaila, 45, a Muslim, married and father of two children. Father Matthew describes him as "a good friend, a man of great humanity and righteousness". Some time ago doctor Sumaila moved away but remained attached to the missionaries and did not forget the time spent at the medical center they managed: "I loved that job," he says, "The rigor, the discipline, the pursuit of excellence and the respect for human dignity were our daily bread." On his relations with Christians he states: "They are great, especially with Catholics: many have become dear friends. My wife is Catholic: at the beginning of our relationship things were not easy, but today our two families live in splendid harmony." 

Widespread illiteracy
Unfortunately, this area of the Ivory Coast has a sad primacy as it has highest rate of illiteracy in the country. "For us missionaries, the greatest difficulty is not raising funds to build literacy centers but is making people understand the importance of learning to read and write to people who have never actually felt the need. We have done a capillary and patient work of persuasion that is still ongoing: and although it’s just a drop in the sea, the results are encouraging. To date we have started six centers that offer evening classes. They are managed by both Christian and Muslim teachers, and currently attended by 220 students, mostly adults."

The promotion of women
The missionaries have also promoted a microcredit project for the female population, from which benefited 160 women who have been able to start small business. Each year they reimburse 10% of what received and with those sums new loans are funded. "For this job, we have involved as managers six women one of whom is Muslim," Father Matteo then adds, "Female condition is very important for us: we organize meetings to help women become aware of their dignity and value. Unfortunately, many little girls are subjected to female genital mutilation, an enduring practice over here: it is very difficult to persuade mothers (even Christians) to renounce to it."

The chapel painted by Muslims
Last year, in the sub-prefecture inhabited predominantly by the Mandinka people (Muslim) an episode struck Father Matteo: "The imam of the town of Sononzo promoted a fundraising to paint the mosque and asked me permission to use part of the money to do the same thing for our chapel, which was not in good condition. I accepted, surprised and moved by the proposal. So now, in Sononzo, our little church and mosque share the same color. When I expressed my gratitude, the Imam told me that with this gesture, the people wanted to thank us for the literacy center and the well we had built, two projects that saw the involvement of the small Christian community and the Muslim one, just like in one big family"

Relations with Côte d'Ivoire
Throughout Côte d'Ivoire, relations between Christians and Muslims are generally very good, Dr. Abudu concludes, “I am convinced that (good relations among Christians and Muslims) are a fundamental factor for social cohesion, not only in my country but in the rest of the world as well. I think that truly religious people (of different religions) who live and work together in harmony and peace can show and teach the world that loving God means to love one another and accept differences."