On March 10, 2018, friars from the Provincial Delegation in Burkina Faso, of the Province of the Immaculate Mother of God in Poland (Warsaw) with the Province of St. Bernardine and St. Angelo in Italy (Abruzzo), presented a conference together with members of the NGO Emergenza Sorrisi at the Seraphicum International College in Rome. The conference was entitled “The Friars Minor Conventual in Africa: Presences, Results and Expectations – The Sabou Medical Center in Burkina Faso: An Example of Synergy between the Gospel, Charity and Inculturation.”
The conference moderator was Mr. Lucas DURAN of Vatican Radio.
The Delegation founded and maintains a large medical center known as the “CREN” [Center for Rehabilitation and Nutritional Education]. It has since become a hospital. The CREN was made possible with support from Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Health and many benefactors. Emergenza Sorrisi is united with the friars in their commitment to address the health issues of the local population and to tackle the most pressing needs emerging in the poorest area of the country.
The hospital initially started as a small parish pharmacy. It is located on a major crossroads in the country and has been operating since 2003. It provides first aid, general medicine, care for AIDS patients, maternity wards, and nutritional rehabilitation for malnourished children.
Future developments being planned include setting up radiology and surgery departments. The hospital is indispensable in the local area. In 2017 alone, it provided 12,815 medical consultations for adults, 4,000 medical consultations for children, 1,090 hospitalizations, and performed 196 deliveries. The hospital is the only treatment center in a region with 112,000 inhabitants.
On the occasion of this conference, Pope Francis sent the following words of encouragement, “His Holiness Pope Francis sends you his cordial thoughts and best wishes. He hopes that the religious family will be able to continue its generous work of spreading the Gospel and constantly supporting the Church in Burkina Faso, while always giving priority to the poor and those working in the geographical and existential peripheries who are entrusted with the precious commitment of evangelization and human promotion.”
Friar Jerzy NOREL, the Vicar General of Friars Minor Conventual, spoke on behalf of the Order and expressed thanks and appreciation for the evangelizing and charitable work our confreres carried out with Emergenza Sorrisi. Both of the Ministers Provincial responsible for the Delegation in Burkina Faso were present as well: Friar Franco RAPACCHIALE (Abruzzo, Italy) and Friar Wiesław PYZIO (Warsaw, Poland). The Most Reverend Gianrico RUZZA, Auxiliary Bishop of Rome and Secretary General of the Vicariate of Rome, expressed his encouragement on behalf of the Diocese of Rome.
Other speakers included Friar Tadeusz ŚWIĄTKOWSKI, the Assistant General for the African Federation of Conventual Franciscans (AFCOF); Friar Jarosław WYSOCZAŃSKI, the Secretary General for Missionary Animation (SGAM); Friar Tomasz KRĘT, Director of the Sabou Medical Center; Mr. Fabio Massimo ABENAVOLI, President of Emergenza Sorrisi; Mr. Massimiliano MALLARDO, the Head of the RAI Social Secretariat [Italian national public broadcasting]; and Mr. Paolo RUFFINI, Director of Tv2000.
Officials of Burkina Faso were also present: Mr. Nicolas MEDA, the Minister of Health, and other officers of the same ministry along with many other attendees who were interested in the theme of human promotion, collaboration and helping the poor and needy in Burkina Faso.
Friar Tadeusz ŚWIĄTKOWSKI, Assistant General for the AFCOF