Almost 30 years ago, Father Pedro went to the Antananarivo landfill. What he saw made him "fall into horror." Since then, he has continued to act for the children of the landfill.
Lhe little Pedro Opeka was only 9 years old when his Slovenian father taught him the trade of a mason in Argentina. He then dreams of becoming a professional footballer. But another way was waiting for him. After graduating from high school, he went to a remote corner of Argentina with Christian students. He wants to share his know-how with the Mapuche Indians, and build a house there.
He repeated this experience the following year in the tribe of Matacos, on the Bolivian border. Her vocation was born: he undertakes to spend his life helping the poorest, with a watchword, helping without assisting.
“I was 17 and a half years old when I was in Argentina, above the Andes Cordillera. I was so dazzled by this extraordinary environment. But there, there were Mapuche Indians who survived. How was it possible that brothers in Argentina could live in this poverty. There I decided. I will give my life for the poorest. "
Help the most disadvantaged to take their destiny in hand
Close to abandonmentHe then trained in theology and philosophy in Buenos Aires then in Slovenia, the land of his parents, before leaving for Madagascar. He is a mason in the parish of one of the poorest regions of the island and brings together groups of young peasants, helping them to take their destiny in hand. After resuming his studies, he then went to Vangaindrano, where he shared the life of poor peasants for 13 years. He works with them in the rice fields, shares their fate and falls ill several times because of the harsh living conditions. Close to abandonment, when he thinks of becoming a seminary trainer, a visits will turn his life upside down.
“I had fallen very ill, I could no longer stand up in the face of so much misery and suffering. I told myself that I was going to leave Madagascar. But at that time, my community offered me a new mission in the capital, Antananarivo. What I saw in the landfill made me fall into horror. "
Experiencing poverty on a daily basis
Children try to survive on mountains of trashDischarge. Children who try to survive on mountains of garbage, like the dogs and pigs they rub shoulders with. 3000 ragpickers, mpikritakas, work tirelessly there, sorting and collecting plastic, metal and coal day and night. They will have to resell 2 kilos of plastic to earn 1 euro cent. To get the metal, which they will sell for 50 euro cents per kilo, they have to set the waste on fire. Toxic smoke is everywhere on the landfill, making breathing problems common. But poverty is great in Madagascar, and for poor rural families, this landfill is like an El Dorado. Living in the landfill is also a solution for the 12% of children who survive in the streets in Madagascar. The landfill is also a place of abandonment. Because poverty is confronted with deficiencies in health facilities, it is the landfill that welcomes young mothers, when they come to abandon their fetuses and newborns to it.
“When I saw that day children arguing for their survival with animals, dogs, pigs who were there, I remained silent. I suffered an electric shock. I said, here I am not allowed to speak. There, I must act. Tonight I made a covenant with God […] My God, help me do something for these little children. I didn't know what or how. But I knew these kids had to get out of this hell. "
This May 20, 1989 marked Father Pedro forever. The next day, he organizes a tea party with the children of the landfill, then he starts a school, under a tree. In December, the association Akamasoa see the day. “The good friends”, this is Father Pedro's project for the children of the landfill.
It is through work that we will overcome poverty.
Brick after brickAnd for almost 30 years, Father Pedro has been tirelessly fighting every day to overcome poverty. Akamasoa today, it is a real society: several villages, hospitals, nurseries, schools, colleges, high schools, higher schools, vocational training, nurseries, sports facilities, cemeteries ... Brick after brick, the malagasys are building a peaceful world.
“From this mountain of waste, we have made it an oasis of hope. It all started with a brick. "
To rebel "with the arms of the heart"
Today, Father Pedro calls us to rebel. To rise up against injustice, indifference, selfishness and poverty.
“Faced with misery, extreme poverty, this duty of insurrection concerns everyone, not only those in power, we must all rise up with arms from the heart. You don't have to wait to be perfect to start something good. "
And for him, Christians must be “in the front ranks”.
“We don't have the right not to help. We have to help. It is a moral duty as a human. It is a spiritual duty as a believer. "
So when a journalist talks to him about the crisis in Europe, he protests:
“I arrived in Madagascar, there were 6 million inhabitants. Today, they are 23 million inhabitants. At the time, there was 30% poverty, poor people. Today, they are 90%. The World Bank says 92%. […] But what crisis? We cannot compare the crisis in Europe. If you say you are in crisis, invent another word for Africa and Madagascar. There, we survive. "
A work recognized by allHis missionary work is internationally recognized and rewarded with numerous distinctions, such as the Cross of the Grand Officer of the Malagasy National Order, or the Legion of Honor in France. Nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, there is no doubt that he will one day receive this prestigious prize. But his happiness is elsewhere:
“I discovered the true happiness, that of hearing resounding in the depths of me these words of Jesus, 'what you will do to the smallest of my brothers, it is to me that you will do it'. "
Today, Made In Compassion joins the effort of Father Pedro, offering the possibility to donors to support 2000 children from the villages of Father Pedro.
With 15 euros, a child eats in the canteen for a month.
Offering a meal is also offering a chance to go to school, receive an education and build a future outside the landfill.
Do not miss the full interview of Father Pedro by Guillaume Anjou.
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