Support for 91 religious Sisters in Argentina
Project Code: 209-05-39
ACN has been helping the Diocese of Añatuya for many years now. Covering an area the size of West Virginia, this diocese has approximately 120,000 inhabitants, 85% of whom are Catholic. It is an extremely arid and unproductive region and the absence of infrastructure makes it difficult, not to say impossible, to get around quickly. As a result, for the 33 priests working in the dioceses, the help of the more than 100 religious Sisters and lay pastoral workers is priceless.
Bishop Adolfo, the Bishop of Añatuya, has now written to ACN for support. His is one of the poorest dioceses in Argentina, where the average salary is just 300 pesos (some $58) a month. Nor do the religious Sisters and catechists earn much more than this. "They get less than $75 a month, and from this they must pay their board, lodging and transportation costs," explains Bishop Adolfo. At the same time they share in the same kind of living conditions as others. "We have no electric power. When it rains, the roads are impassable and we cannot even transport medicine or food.” So runs a letter from three Dominican Sisters, who run a parish some 38 miles from Añatuya.
The priest can visit only once a month; for the rest of the time it is the Sisters who are there for the Catholic faithful. Those who do have work here consider themselves lucky – despite the meager salary – for the unemployment rate in Añatuya is close to 65%. Many of the local people live in simple mud huts with roofs of branches and grass. The general lack of hygiene and good order leads to all kinds of ailments, including outbreaks of tuberculosis and gastro-intestinal disorders, as well as syphilis. Many children suffer from malnutrition, and there is a lack of doctors. Hence the people are all the more happy to have Sister Asunción, a trained nurse, among them. This Dominican nun works in a health center and "does everything" as her fellow religious testify. "The patients come from miles away, since they have more confidence in her than in the doctors,” they tell us.
Water is a veritable blessing in Añatuya, where it normally rains only four months of the year and where the soil is full of saltpeter and is also contaminated with arsenic. The only water is supplied by the very salty water is of the – appropriately named – Rio Salado (or "Salty River"). Yet at the same time this river poses a very real threat during the rainy season for all the surrounding villages, when the roads and entire villages are inundated. "In our convent we had 24 evacuees living for almost 3 weeks," recalls Sister Loucia, the superior of the community of six Missionary Sisters of Jesus, Word and Victim.
The Sisters were completely cut off at the time and were forced to suspend their pastoral work. Nevertheless, they continued to visit everyone they could reach, and prayed with them – something that was "a great consolation" for the people concerned. ACN wants to help support the life and apostolate of the 91 religious Sisters in the diocese, with a total of $9,800. Will you give to support these Sisters serving the poor in Argentina?
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