Tag Archives: poverty

World Malaria Day

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April 25 is World Malaria Day, an occasion to highlight the ongoing effort to fight and eradicate malaria. Malaria is a disease spread by mosquitoes. It causes severe flu-like symptoms, and can lead to death if untreated. Some of our sites are in areas where malaria is prevalent.  We work with our sites to prevent malaria by providing mosquito nets and preventative medication. Sponsored children are able to receive crucial medical care for the treatment of this serious disease.

Kate, our Creative Specialist, contracted malaria while working in Ghana, Africa. Read about her experience that inspired her to sponsor a child through Chalice:

“In 2013, I had just turned 22. I had also just graduated from York University, with a degree in Film Production. The ink was barely dry on my diploma, and I found myself in Tamale, Ghana, on an internship. It was supposed to be a communications job, but when I got there, they saw my camera. At the time, I was not a trained photographer, but my Nikon looked professional enough to them, and photographer soon became my primary role.

One organization in our membership group was just launching a new project with some of the poorest households in northern Ghana, which is the most impoverished and underdeveloped region of the country. They had no photos for their marketing materials or reports, so off I went, on the back of a motorbike, to rural hospitals, schools, and homes.

There’s a town way up in the northwest called Wa. Going to Wa is well known to be a harrowing journey. The roads are not just unpaved, but require a Land Cruiser to even think about driving on them. Our trip kept getting delayed, as it took only the smallest detail to derail the whole plan. My anticipation was mounting, and I was thrilled when we finally had a date for it to happen.

Kate in Wa, Ghana

Kate in Wa, Ghana

The morning before we left, I woke up not feeling well. I hoped it was dehydration, so I drank some juice, and set off for the 45 minute walk to Mass. I lurched and staggered up the road, and realized I couldn’t make it. Determined that I was not sick, I rested in bed for the day.

I awoke the next morning faring no better. I started telling my roommates that I was going to the hospital to be tested for malaria, and started asking about where to go. I realized in all my frenzy, I was actually feeling better. Maybe breakfast had kicked in, I reasoned. I felt good enough to go. So I went to Wa, not saying anything to my companions about the scare.

The roads were as atrocious as I’d been promised, but I was otherwise fine. The next day, however, the nausea was back. I later learned this is a common aspect of malaria – symptoms come in waves. Later, I felt well enough to work , only to arrive at the site to be ushered to a chair or the back of a truck to curl into a ball while my colleagues did their jobs.

One of the days, they dropped me off at a guest house run by a Catholic convent. The sisters let me stay for the afternoon, free of charge. I was so grateful for their generosity. Through my stubbornness, I had not just become a burden to my colleagues, but was imposing on these kind and busy Sisters. After about three days of this pattern, my colleagues took me to a doctor for malaria treatment.

When I returned to Canada a few months later, I landed a full time job in my chosen field, film making. I knew I finally had sufficient means to start sponsoring a child through Chalice. My parents had always sponsored at least one child. To me, it was just a matter of course that I would sponsor someday too.

I learned that Chalice has a sponsor site in Wa, as I probably would have observed if I hadn’t been quite so… hindered. Wa’s dry climate and unpredictable rains create frequent water shortages. Sustaining small-scale farms is precarious, and most educated youth move to the prospering southern regions. Retaining teachers is a constant challenge. Hepatitis B is a pervasive issue.

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Those were all reasons to sponsor a child in Wa. But as I was on Chalice’s website, a smile jumped out at me. Her name is Geraldina, and at the time, she was 12 years old. And what did she want to be? A nurse, just like the ones who cared for me when I was vulnerable. 

That is my story of why I sponsored a child. There are thousands, tens of thousands more. Over the years, Chalice staff have heard hundreds of reasons of why sponsors chose that child. Some felt strangely compelled. Some happened to pick up the folder of a child with their own name, or the name of a deceased relative. Some see a child who wants to have their profession when they grow up, or have the same hobbies as their own children. I have sponsored Geraldina for 3 years now, and I hope one day she can be among the ranks of those kind and compassionate nurses.”

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The Epiphany: the Greatness of Jesus Revealed in his Smallness

A Christmas gathering in Santiago, Chile.

A Christmas gathering in Santiago, Chile.

“We travel all the way from the East, are you sure this is the place where the King of the Jews is born?”

“I am not 100% sure. We were told to follow the star. And the star stops here.”

“A messy manger? To pay homage to a child born in a messy manger?”

“Well, since we are here, might as well go in to have a look.”

“What Child is this who laid to rest on Mary’s lap is sleeping? Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping? So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh, come peasant, King to own Him. The King of Kings salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone Him. This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and Angels sing. Haste, haste, to bring Him laud, the Babe, the Son of Mary.” (What Child is This lyrics)

Today, on this great solemnity of Epiphany, the Church celebrates the manifestation of Jesus to the world, represented by the encounter with the three wise men (magi) who traveled from the East, guided by the star, to see the newborn babe in the manger in Bethlehem. They are Gentiles, people from outside the Israelite nation. According to Cambridge Dictionary, Epiphany means: a moment when you suddenly feel that you understand, or suddenly become conscious of, something that is very important to you; a powerful religious experience. So what’s The Solemnity of Epiphany so important to us, what do we suddenly understand and what’s the powerful experience? First it doesn’t make common sense for the King of Jews to be born in a messy manger. A 4+ stars inn, at least. He must be a child more than of the rich and nobles. “In sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel. … This child is destined … to be a sign that will be contradicted so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:30-35). I recall Pope Benedict XVI also said “God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us. . . . God made himself small so that we could understand him, welcome him, and love him” The Child is revealed for all of us, Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come!” The opening words of the first reading (Isaiah 60:1) give us a command to follow. The star, the light the Child Jesus is for us all who search for peace, for salvation, and the meeting of Jews and Gentiles, believers and non-believers. God calls us together soaked in his love, and he calls us to become one family where peace and reconciliation reign. The light gives us faith, hope and love. How do we welcome our neighbours and friends who do not share our faith? Like the Magi, who make an extraordinary trip to pay homage to the newborn Christ, we are also invited to pay homage and are to be the heralds of the Good News, to proclaim that Jesus is born and there is freedom in Him who lived and loved, died and rose for us. Let us be overwhelmed with joy, and dare to invite others in.

Tomorrow, Monday, is the Solemnity of Baptism of the Lord. After that, the Christmas season will end and the Ordinary Time begins when the Baby Jesus will be 30 by then to start His mission. “I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). The Baby Jesus is for all the poor, literally, physically and spiritually. He is a Child of the poor. I started my permanent deacon mission at double His age (60) to serve the needy and the poor. Soup kitchen, services at missions, hospital and old age home visits, etc. The sleeves of our dalmatics are so designed to be wide enough for ease in carrying supplies and food to the helpless and hungry. But now, ten years later, I, like a new born baby, cannot walk and talk. iPad is the only device for me to communicate. Google helps me to search and research for my weekly assignment, the reflection. I have been pondering everyday puzzling on who I serve now, and what’s next.

When I meditate on the nativity after mass on New Year’s day, I suddenly become conscious of: the greatness of Jesus revealed in his smallness, coming into the world as a helpless child born in the poorest conditions. Christ came in this weak state to help us to be at peace with our own helplessness and weakness. He wants to lift us up in all of the glory with which we have been created. His love and mercy are ALWAYS available to us! Christ being a Child of the Poor gives me comfort and hope.

“Helpless and hungry, lowly afraid, wrapped in the chill of mid-winter. Comes now among us, born into poverty’s embrace, new life for the world. Who is this who lives with the lowly, sharing their sorrows, knowing their hunger? This is Christ, revealed to the world in the eyes of a child, a child of the poor. Who is the stranger, here in our midst, looking for shelter among us? Who is this outcast? Who do we see amidst the poor, the children of God? … Bring all the thirsty, all who seek peace; bring those with nothing to offer. Strengthen the feeble, say to the frightened heart: “Fear not, here is our God!”. Who is this who lives with the lowly, sharing their sorrows, knowing their hunger? This is Christ,revealed to the world in the eyes of a child, a child of the poor.” (Scott Soper, “Child of the Poor” Lyrics)

By Deacon Raymond Chan, Chalice speaker and Champion