9 January 2019
CNEWA donor Dr. Camille Salame provides medical examinations to Syrian women on a visit to the Karagheusian Center in Lebanon. (photo: Tamara Abdul Hadi)
The current edition of ONE features a profile of Lebanon’s Karagheusian Socio-Medical Center, a refuge for refugees that helps them adapt to their new surroundings. Writer Doreen Abi Raad has some additional impressions of her visit there:
It’s easy to get lost navigating the maze of tiny streets in the Beirut suburb of Bourj Hammoud. But ask anyone in the bustling neighborhood for directions to the Karagheusian Medico-Social Center, and it’s as though you are receiving a welcoming invitation to their home.
For nearly 100 years, the clinic has been a landmark. It began serving the Armenian community at the beginning of the 20th century, reaching out to refugees who settled in Bourj Hammoud after fleeing the Ottoman massacres.
Now Karagheusian also serves refugees from neighboring Syria. Since 2011, tiny Lebanon has absorbed more than one million people displaced from the Syrian conflict.
At the clinic, a team of 40 rotating doctors, plus a staff of 40, serves 4,000 patients a month. Of those, 3,000 are Syrian refugees and 1,000 are from the Lebanese host community. About two-thirds of the clinic’s current beneficiaries are Muslim.
On a typical morning, worn strollers are lined in a row outside near the entrance to the sunny yellow building that houses the center.
Inside, at the central reception desk a nurse named Vartouq, with an engaging smile, rocks an infant in her arms while the baby’s mother tends to her young son. “I love babies,” Vartouq says. ”I want to see them well and in good health.”
Soon after, Vartouq is comforting a toddler girl who is crying pitifully during her vaccination shot. “You’re my sweetheart and you’re brave,” Vartouq reassures, gently holding a tiny hand in her own.
“I like to help everybody. All are God’s children,” Vartouq says, as dozens of mothers with their children patiently wait their turn to meet with staff.
This is the spirit that permeates the busy Karagheusian Center. The misery that the refugees carry from their catastrophic experiences seems to vanish as they enter the center, where they are welcomed with open arms. I was so touched by the loving care and support they receive. It is as if a huge weight has been lifted from their shoulders.
Dr. Camille Salame, a neurosurgeon from Norwich, Connecticut, and a longtime contributor to CNEWA, likened the mission of the Karagheusian Center to that of Mother Teresa’s call to do ”small acts with great love.”
Some months earlier, Dr. Salame had contacted CNEWA, offering to provide any service he could during his visit to his native Lebanon.
That outreach led to Dr. Salame presenting a talk on back and neck pain for a group of some 150 Syrian Armenian Christian refugee women who gather each week as part of Karagheusian’s social service initiatives supported by CNEWA. After the talk, the doctor tirelessly met with 25 women for individual consultations.
Karagheusian’s social services arm, which includes a team of eight social workers, is aimed at providing support and encouragement, to help both refugees and vulnerable members of the host community to live a dignified life. Those initiatives include home visits, after school tutorial programs, a summer camp for children, trauma therapy sessions, vocational training for women to learn income-generating skills and women’s empowerment groups.
“I’m happy to see how much help the community is receiving,” said Dr. Salame of his visit to the Karagheusian center. “This is an oasis of hope.”
Read more about A Refuge in Lebanon in the December 2018 edition of ONE.
9 January 2019
Devaki, 76, awaits the visit of a mobile care unit, which helps her care for her disabled son.
(photo: Meenakshi Soman)
The current edition of ONE takes readers on a journey into some of the poorest parts of India, where a mobile clinic is bringing healing and hope:
“Some of these families live in remote and far out places. They live by themselves in jungles. Access is difficult. But we find a way,” Father Elambasseril says.
R. Vasudevan lies on the floor of a small room. He lives in a small hut in the Dalit village of Ittakaveli. The tropical humidity is at its peak this late October afternoon. Mosquitoes buzz around.
Vasudevan was 21 when he fell off his motorbike. People around him thought he was drunk; no one called for help. Because of the delay in medical attention, his paralysis from the waist down became permanent.
“I’ve been bedridden for the last 27 years now,” the 48-year-old says. “But I am mentally strong and have been able to survive this.” Despite his suffering, he radiates good cheer.
His mother, Devaki, 76, is his full-time caregiver. “I have three daughters,” she says. “They visit occasionally and help bathe him.”
Both Devaki and Vasudevan look forward to their weekly visit from the Mother Teresa care team. “The priest prays. The volunteers and the nurse make conversation. I have visitors,” Vasudevan says, smiling.
Read more about Healing the Forgotten in the December 2018 edition of ONE.
9 January 2019
The video above shows the dramatic impact of a winter storm that devastated refugee camps in Lebanon Monday. (video: Straits Times/YouTube)
Storm wrecks refugee camps in Lebanon (AFP) Heavy rains and snow wrecked several informal settlements housing Syrian refugees in Lebanon and left thousands in need of emergency assistance, aid workers said on Tuesday (8 Jan). Some of the worst affected were the refugees living in Arsal, a mountainous border area in northern Lebanon where the roofs of rudimentary shacks caved under the weight of the snow…
Christians concerned about religious freedom if Turkey enters Syria (CNS) Growing numbers of Christians in North America and Europe are joining Christians in Syria’s northeast in expressing concern for the future of religious minorities and Kurds in that region should the U.S. give Turkey the “green light” to take over the fight against Islamic State. ”News of any Turkish military involvement in northern Syria impacts us strongly and negatively,” Chaldean Catholic Father Samir Kanoon of Qamishli, Syria, told Catholic News Service…
Ethiopia-Eritrea border boom as peace takes hold (BBC) The reopening of the border between former enemies Ethiopia and Eritrea has dramatically changed the towns near the frontier, writes the BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza…
Russian Patriarch: Antichrist will use Internet to control people’s lives (The Moscow Times) The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church has said that humans’ dependence on modern technology will result in the coming of the Antichrist. In an interview with Russian state media, Patriarch Kirill explained he does not entirely oppose gadgets, but warned against “falling into slavery” to smartphones. Patriarch Kirill said that the collection of user data including “location, interests and fears” will make it possible for humans to be controlled by external forces…
8 January 2019
Tags: Lebanon Ethiopia Russian Orthodox Church Eritrea Refugee Camps
A boy prepares to receive Communion during a Divine Liturgy marking the feast of the Nativity at St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church in New York City on 7 January. The Ukrainian Catholic Church and other Eastern Catholic churches celebrate Christmas according to the Julian calendar.
(photo: CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)
8 January 2019
Tags: Ukrainian Catholic Church
In the video above, an Egyptian bishop describes the tremendous faith of his people and how it has been strengthened by persecution and violent attacks in his country. The Vatican's Fides news agency reports 40 missionaries and pastoral workers around the world were killed in 2018.
(video: Rome Reports/YouTube)
Report: 40 missionaries killed around the world in 2018 (Vatican News) In the course of the year 2018, 40 “missionaries” and pastoral workers were killed around the world, almost double the previous year’s toll of 23, the Vatican’s Fides news agency reported. Until 2017, the Americas led the way for 8 consecutive years for the highest number of missionaries killed. In 2018, Africa topped the list…
Red Cross rescues hundreds of Syrians from flooded refugee camp (The Daily Star) The Lebanese Red Cross rescued more than 500 people from Akkar’s Semmaqieh refugee settlement Monday after their tents filled with floodwater as storm Norma battered Lebanon with fierce winds, heavy snow and rainfall…
Egypt policeman killed defusing bomb near Coptic church (BBC) A policeman has been killed trying to defuse a bomb outside a Coptic Christian church in Egypt, security officials say. Mustafa Abid was reportedly a specialist in mine clearance. The explosion injured two other officers and an onlooker…
Muslims slam India’s verbal divorce bill (UCANews.com) Opposition to India’s move to criminalize verbal divorce among Muslims continued in early January after the governing pro-Hindu party sought to push a bill through parliament last month that would outlaw the practice, which is still prevalent among Muslims…
For Orthodox churches in Ukraine and Russia, a politically charged Christmas (CNN) This Christmas, however, is a politically charged one for both Russia and Ukraine. On Saturday 5 January, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople signed a decree called a “tomos” that granted independence to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. The decree furthers a push begun in October to recognize the establishment of an independent Orthodox Church in the country. And it has given Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko an important symbolic victory ahead of a presidential vote slated for the end of March…
Priest turns derelict land into ’Garden of Eden’ in Delhi (UCANews.com) The Delhi Archdiocese has set up an eco-spirituality center for meditation on the edge of the capital powered by renewable energy that features quake-proof cottages, an organic diet and farm animals. It is called Ish Vatika (the Garden of God) and is managed by Father Stanley Kozhichira, national president of the Catholic media organization Signis India...
7 January 2019
Tags: India Egypt Ukraine Orthodox Persecution
The Rev. Tyler Strand of Resurrection Byzantine Catholic Church in Smithtown, N.Y., holds a crucifix as he blesses the waters of the Nissequogue River in Smithtown during a prayer service on 6 January marking the feast of the Theophany. The feast, celebrated by Eastern churches, commemorates the revelation of the Holy Trinity through Christ's baptism in the Jordan River. (photo: CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)
7 January 2019
Pope Francis greets an ambassador during an annual meeting to exchange greetings for the new year with diplomats accredited to the Holy See, at the Vatican on 7 January.
(photo: CNS/Ettore Ferrari, pool via Reuters)
Pope to diplomats: ’Nationalistic tendencies’ threaten world peace (CNS) As it did prior to the Second World War, the rise of nationalism in the world poses a threat to peace and constructive dialogue among nations, Pope Francis said. During his annual address to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, the pope said that the establishment of the League of Nations nearly 100 years ago ushered a new era of multilateral diplomacy based on goodwill, readiness among nations to deal fairly and honestly with each other and openness to compromise…
Two Americans accused of fighting for ISIS captured by Kurds in Syria (The Washington Post) Kurdish forces in Syria said Sunday that they had captured two American citizens hiding out in the country’s final Islamic State stronghold. In a statement, the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, identified the detainees as Warren Christopher Clark, 34, and Zaid Abed al-Hamid, 35. It said the pair had been captured alongside three others suspected of being foreign recruits in the extremist group.
Ethiopians celebrate Christmas (Andalou Agency) Ethiopian Orthodox Christians on Monday celebrated Christmas with religious leaders calling the laity to pray and work for the maintenance of peace and unity. In a sermon on the Christmas Eve, Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, said: “The people, particularly the youth, should work for the maintenance of peace.” Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on 7 January, along with other Eastern Orthodox Christians around the world, some two weeks after 25 December, when their Western counterparts celebrate Jesus’ birth…
Survivors of anti-Christian violence in India enter consecrated life (Vatican News) On 27 December, Father Anand was ordained a priest of the Order of Friars Minor and his sister, Anjali, pronounced her final vows as a member of the Society of Saint Anne of Luzern. The two are survivors of India’s 2008 anti-Christian violence in Odisha state. In 2018, Christians in eastern India’s Odisha state marked the 10th anniversary of the terrible massacre and atrocities inflicted on them by Hindu extremists. The year ended with the grace and blessing of the Lord when two siblings who survived the persecution, offered themselves to the Lord in consecrated life…
Putin marks Christmas in St. Petersburg (EuroNews) Russian Orthodox Christians have marked Christmas with a special midnight mass held in churches and cathedrals across the country. President Vladimir Putin attended a service in Saint Petersburg’s Transfiguration Cathedral, where his mother had him baptized in secrecy during Soviet times…
Pictures: Christians around the world mark Epiphany (AP) Christians across the world have been marking Epiphany, with worshippers plunging into icy waters and parades being held in Poland and elsewhere. At the Vatican, Pope Francis marked the Epiphany feast day by urging people to follow the path of “humble love” and care for those who can give nothing back…
4 January 2019
Tags: India Pope Francis Ethiopia Russian Orthodox Church
Elizabeth, from Aleppo, has her vital signs taken before a doctor visit. (photo: Tamara Abdul Hadi)
The December 2018 edition of ONE takes readers to A Refuge in Lebanon in the Beirut suburb of Bourj Hammoud, to meet some of the people at the Karagheusian Socio-Medical Center:
The center is helping those who have been uprooted to set their feet once more on firm ground — enabling them to find opportunities, rediscover community and rekindle hope.
The story of the Karagheusian Center begins after the death of 14-year-old Howard Karagheusian from pneumonia in New York City in 1918.
His Armenian American parents resolved to establish a humanitarian mission — the Howard Karagheusian Foundation — in their son’s memory, focusing at first on sheltering, feeding and educating orphaned children who had survived the Armenian Genocide. The organization has operated in Lebanon, Syria and Armenia ever since — now for more than 95 years.
A team of 40 doctors, plus a staff of 40, serves about 4,000 patients a month at the Bourj Hammoud clinic. Of those, 3,000 are Syrian refugees and 1,000 from the Lebanese host community. About two-thirds of the clinic’s current beneficiaries are Muslim. “The health center is available to everyone, because health is for all,” stresses Lebanon Field Director Serop Ohanian.
In Bourj Hammoud, the Syrian refugee population is still growing, notes Mr. Ohanian. They live in overcrowded conditions, typically with two or three families squeezed together in small, dismal apartments that rarely see the light of day. During Lebanon’s humid, cold and rainy winters, moisture hangs on concrete walls, frequently turning into mold, sparking respiratory conditions among residents.
“Their situation is catastrophic, and getting worse. We’re seeing more Syrian refugees entering into poverty,” Mr. Ohanian says.
Read more in the current edition of ONE.
4 January 2019
Tags: Lebanon Refugees
Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, president of Catholic Bishops Conference of India, will preside over a meeting of the Latin-rite bishops in India next week. (photo: CNS/Anto Akkara)
India’s bishops to meet (Vatican News) India’s Latin-rite bishops are gathering in the holding their plenary assembly next week in the seaside town of Mahabalipuram in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state. The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) of the Latin-rite bishops, is holding its 31stplenary assembly at the Joe Animation Centre from 8-14 January on the theme, “Evangelii Gaudium”, or “The Joy of the Gospel”, the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis that deals with the Church’s primary mission of evangelizations in the modern world…
Biggest cathedral in the Middle East to be dedicated (Egyptian Streets) According to local media outlets, the New Administrative Capital’s cathedral will finally be inaugurated in time for Coptic Christmas mass on Sunday. The opening of the cathedral, officially called the ‘Cathedral of the Birth of Christ’ and set to be the largest church in the Middle East, will be attended by Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Pope Tawadros II…
British report criticizes Indian government for failing to protect religious minorities (UCANews.com) A British parliamentary report has criticized the Indian government for failing to protect religious minorities from violent Hindu hardliners. A report by the British All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief said the rise of nationalist “Hindutva” ideology — which defines ‘Indian’ as exclusively Hindu — has led to an increase in religious oppression in the country…
‘Pope for Ukraine’ aims to help displaced families (CNA) ”Pope for Ukraine” is a Vatican initiative that aims to collaborate with non-Catholic entities to respond to the emergency humanitarian situation amid conflict in eastern Ukraine…
‘Walking in the Lord’s footsteps’ in Jerusalem (Reuters) It is three o’clock in the morning and Artak Tadevosyan is wafting incense through the corridors of Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was crucified and buried. ”Walking in the Lord’s footsteps, really, you have feelings that cannot be explained,” said the 26-year-old Armenian Orthodox cleric. “We don’t see it as stone, all these are holy places for us…”
3 January 2019
Tags: India Egypt Ukraine Coptic Christians
Msgr. Kozar, accompanying a group of religious sisters, pays a visit to the Cremisan Valley in the West Bank in December 2017. (photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)
In the current edition of ONE, CNEWA’s president Msgr. John E. Kozar reflects on the meaning of “accompaniment” — and how we at CNEWA have made this central to our mission:
We often describe our ministry at CNEWA as one of “accompaniment” of the Eastern Catholic churches on behalf of the Holy Father and in the name of the church. It is important we understand the breadth of this description and thus appreciate in a fuller way the importance of our “good works.”
Webster’s Dictionary tells us that to “accompany” means to “go somewhere as a companion or an escort.” For CNEWA, walking with others can take many forms. We offer guidance and support, expertise and insight, and always with a spirit of encouragement and love.
Some might think that our accompaniment only means financial support. Of course, our material support — thanks to your generosity — is critically important. In many instances, CNEWA is not just the primary source of financial support, but the only external benefactor. This is the case with hundreds of individual program pieces and institutional components.
But our commitment to this journey with the church takes many other forms besides financial subsidies or programmatic distributions.
Sometimes we are called to assist the local church in determining the priorities for addressing pastoral and material needs. Again, we draw on our broader experience from CNEWA’s world and are able to give helpful insights to church leaders about real priorities.
We accompany them.
I think of a number of instances where religious congregations, sometimes cloistered and out of the public eye, have come to our regional office seeking some technical assistance, perhaps looking for help with an emergency plumbing problem, a leaking roof or an electric malfunction. CNEWA, of course, is not in the contracting business or home repair business, but since we are on the ground for so many years and have established relationships with many service providers, we are able to offer immediate comfort and security, helping them to secure reputable and honest contractors, engineers or craftsmen.
We accompany them.
You can read more and see more pictures at the link. And check out the video below, in which Msgr. Kozar talks about this subject in some depth.
As we embark on a new year and look toward the future, CNEWA will continue to accompany those in need however we can, wherever we can — ever mindful of the hope and possibility that are so vital to the Gospel and the work we do.