Father Pedro, the "father of the poor", a miracle for Madagascar

Clean air, a calm and peaceful atmosphere, wonder in a village not far from the city, such were my feelings when I entered for the first time in the "Village of Father Pedro".

Dhe smiles on the faces of the people who greeted us from their window, the burst of laughter of children running after a balloon, of the inhabitants happy to build their own house, this red earth where they could finally say "home" "! Then several schools, but also dispensaries, and even a computer room, this place had nothing to envy to the city, a few kilometers away ...

However, it was not always so, indeed, believe it or not, the inhabitants of this place come from the most disadvantaged backgrounds of Antananarivo, and a large part of them lived in the dump. from the city. From homeless, feeding on rubbish and living among rubbish, they have become true citizens, to whom “Life” has restored their dignity, their rights and their freedom. But by what miracle was all this going to happen? This miracle is called Pedro Opeka, better known under the name of Father Pedro, in a way the hand of God to help the poor of Madagascar.

Having felt in his life the call of God to help the poor, it was in 1989 that Father Pedro created AKAMASOA association (Le Bon Ami), in order to get these destitute people out of the indecent places where they lived, in order to restore their dignity. To do this, three elements were inseparable: a roof, a job, an education. Having no financial means at his disposal, Father Pedro began his work with a view to helping without assistance, and to push the poor to build their structures: houses, schools, workplaces, dispensaries.

But to do this, this population had to leave the landfill where it had settled and go to the countryside where it would escape begging and crime. It was therefore a few kilometers north of Antananarivo that the work began: to move away from the illusory promises of the city, from the hell of pollution and garbage, and find a life, THE life.

Today, after 26 years of existence, AKAMASOA has come to the aid of 500 Malagasy people, 000 houses have been built, 3 people live in the villages and more than 000 children are currently enrolled in their schools. Each village has schools, a dispensary, workplaces for adults: crafts, quarry, carpentry, agriculture, etc. In 25, the association was recognized as being of public utility by the Malagasy State.

The achievements of the association are considerable but the struggle is daily, whether within the framework of the villages, but also the needs of the outside which do not stop growing, Madagascar being devastated by poverty. Indeed, the living conditions of the Malagasy population continue to deteriorate, and to date 9 in 10 Malagasy live on less than $ 1,5 per day. It is therefore now, and more than ever, that the fight must be waged. Among the many durable and solid structures already in place, we can find:

- Of Reception centers to receive people from the street and provide them with temporary emergency assistance (meals, clothing, care)

- Of Housing for poor families.

- Of Schools to educate children, from nursery to university, as well as Vocational training centers.

- Of Dispensaries to allow access to care.

Similar structures have yet to be erected, and many teachers, professors, doctors, have yet to be recruited, but we have faith that God is working with them “For we are workers with God. " 1 Corinthians 3: 9

Beyond material aid, it is a whole education based on biblical principles that the educators, under the responsibility of Father Pedro, wish to transmit to the population. The discipline to follow at AKAMASOA is called Dina, it is a convention drawn up by the inhabitants themselves: no drugs, no alcohol, no games and no prostitution.

The transmission of the Christian faith also holds a great place at AKAMASOA. It is this faith which enables the inhabitants to become aware of their responsibility and also to animate their courage. Every Sunday, around 7000 people gather for a mass at the indoor stadium in Manantenasoa. Adults participate in its organization and each week the children prepare new dances to make each celebration a unique time of praise and worship.

It was without money, but armed with faith and love that the “Father of the poor” began this work, God provided and supported him to this day. Finally, I would like to close with these words of Jesus:

Then the King will say to those on his right hand: 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, take possession of the kingdom which was prepared for you from the creation of the world! Indeed, I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me; I was naked and you dressed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me. ' The righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and come to you? ' And the King will answer them: "I say it to you in truth, whenever you have done this to one of these smallest of my brothers, it is to me that you have done it".
Matthew 25: 34-40

Anne-Muriel RAHAINGONJATOVO

Writing

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