Help Bishop Antoine Feed His People in Ivory Coast
Project Code: 116-01-39
For many years, the 60 different ethnic groups in Ivory Coast lived together peaceably. But at the end of the 1990s, tensions rose, and in 2002 a civil war broke out which lasted until 2007. But even after the formal end of the war, violence continued to flare up again and again.
Today, people are struggling to rebuild their lives. And even though the country is financially one the strongest members of the West African economic and monetary union (UEMOA), more than 43% of the Ivory Coast population still lives in poverty, and in some regions the rate is over 50%.
Ivory Coast has a very youthful population, with an average age of just 20 years, and almost 40% of its population – close to 22 million – are children or young people aged 15 and under. Some 16.8% of the population is Catholic, while Muslims make up somewhat less than a third and another 35% or so still belong to various traditional African religions.
The Diocese of Odienné, one of the 15 dioceses in the countries, lies in the northwest and is still very young; this year it will be celebrating its 10th anniversary. It is in a region that saw heavy fighting during the civil war, and when the country was divided in two at one point, it lay within the territory controlled by the rebels of the Forces Nouvelles de Côte d’Ivoire.
Today, Bishop Antoine Kone is concerned for his people, due to the great poverty here. He writes: "Most of the people here are small peasant farmers. They are dependent on the very rare rainfalls and on the infertile lateritic soils. The only people who manage to obtain a good harvest are those who can afford tractors, plow oxen, good quality seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. But all those things are too expensive for the majority of our Christian people."
As a result, of course, the parishes are also very poor, since the people cannot afford to contribute much. Now the bishop is hoping that the parishes can obtain their own sources of income and become less dependent on financial support. His idea is to plant rice and maize fields to be maintained by the parishioners. At the same time, this can also be a means of helping the poor. Bishop Antoine is thinking of the words of Jesus at the feeding of the 5,000: “Give them some food yourselves” (Mt. 14:16). And he asks, "Can we preach the Gospel of life to men and women who have empty stomachs and are malnourished?"
For $9,000, we can help some 20 parishes to plant their own fields, and so be less reliant on outside help in the future. As the old proverb says, "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life." Will you give to help Bishop Antoine feed his people in the Ivory Coast both materially and spiritually?
This project is an example of our work. Your donation will be attributed either to this or to another similar project that accords with the pastoral needs that ACN witnesses.