Taking care of the family, the basis of society.
At the end of my visit to the Arrupe Social Center, Madagascar from 7 to 16 October 2022, I would like to share in a few words what I experienced.
Indeed, the Centre Social Arrupe Madagascar (CA-MDG) is a work of the Jesuit Province of Madagascar (Jesuits) working in the same enclosure as the Parish of St John the Baptist in Antananarivo. It opened in May 2005 and has as its motto “a faith committed to Justice“. ».
For the Board, we cannot talk about faith without valuing and protecting the family which is the base, the core of any good society that wants to be balanced and healthy. Man, i.e. a worthy human being, is forged, among other things, in the family. The first steps, the first acts and gestures of justice and faith, for a believer, as well as the first foundations of society are given in the family. Therefore, anyone who wants to contribute to forming a society based on values must take care of the family.
Convinced of this reality and wanting to give flesh to its deep religious beliefs, since its opening 17 years ago, the MDG Board has focused first on the family through the Health and Family Program (PSF). The latter has “the mission to raise awareness, protect, promote and transmit the values of a healthy and harmonious woman. It looks to families, parents, young people, and men and women to share and bring to life a vision of mutual respect, common commitments, and a spirit of dialogue.” The HIV pandemic is another word that puts the family at risk, the PSF has not remained indifferent to this pandemic. Thus, at its beginnings, “the PSF has invested in the fight against HIV/AIDS with the objective of reducing and eradicating this scourge through prevention and education of the population, young adolescents and people excluded and victims of discrimination in particular“. In addition to the issues of values education for the protection of the family and the fight against the spread of HIV among adolescents and adults, since 2019, the PSF has integrated into its action plan the fight against violence, particularly violence against girls and women (VAW). It is also a response to Christ’s call “whatever you do to one of the least of these least who are my brothers and sisters, you do to me” (Mt 25:40)https://centre-arrupe-madagascar.com/programme-sante-et-famille/
In order to advance the mission of Christ (to take care of each being) and to have more impact on the ground and to achieve its objectives, among other things, to strengthen the formation and accompaniment of families, couples and young people; to combat all forms of violence against girls and women; to raise awareness for an effective and inclusive health system, particularly in the fight against HIV and AIDS, the PSF of the Board has integrated into its program of “Education for Life and Love (EVA)” the Program of the African Jesuit AIDS Network for the prevention of HIV among young people, known as AHAPPY or Happy Generation. This program (Happy Generation) offers holistic tools to strengthen the decision-making capacity of young people while opening their minds to build, as a responsible and reasonable person, a fulfilled, thriving life in a healthy environment where every living being has its place.
The CA/PSF is also convinced that no one can operate in a vacuum. He believes in partnership and the adage that “there is strength in numbers“. As such, it has developed a partnership (collaboration) with other partners of the Catholic Church, Protestant, and other non-confessional organizations including State structures working in the health sector and young people.
I had to participate in a meeting with these partners to feel their work environment, share our experiences, challenges and perspectives. It was an enriching exchange for me. In addition to this very rich meeting, we also hosted a radio program on Radio Don Bosco on “the challenges of educating young people today“. It was also for me a moment of sharing experience with the listeners and learning from them through their interaction through questions as well as contributions by call and sms. I felt a great concern and interest of the listeners to build a youth standing, responsible and conscientious of its role in the emergence of Malagasy society.
This visit corresponded with the visit of Father General, Arturo Sosa, to the Province of Madagascar on the occasion of its 50th anniversary accomplished in 2021. On the same occasion, the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) held its plenary in October 2022. It was a time of joy, graces and thanksgiving.
I pray and wish to see this radio program produce many fruits that contribute more to the growth and development of our Malagasy youth and become true ‘blessings’ for the country and for the Continent.
I invite any person or institution that cares about our young people to lend us a hand so that together we can work to form a generation of young Africans full of hope and committed to the protection of the planet.
By, Matambura Ismael, SJ