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CHARITY THAT HURTS / Fr. Martin Chittadiyil V.C.

CHARITY THAT HURTS / Fr. Martin Chittadiyil V.C.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for we will reap at the harvest time if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).

There is a place in Kenya called Mugunda. I visited that place with Bro. Joseph, one of the zealous team members of Tabor team, when he came to Kenya to preach youth retreats. He told me that he wanted to meet Fr. Romano Filipe who has been his friend for many years.  And thus one fine morning we set off for Mugunda, beyond Nyeri hills of Africa.

Fr. Romano Filipe came to Kenya in 1971 as a missionary priest from Italy. He dedicated himself for the spiritual and material progress of the people. When he reached the place many years ago, there were no churches, schools, hospitals and even the environment was generally hostile. But trusting in the providence of God Fr. Romano decided to do something good for his flock. He climbed the Aberdares Forest and found out water sources and made plans to provide water for the people and now all the people of the region has piped clean drinking water. It is not just water, he took us around and I found there a beautiful church, school, hospital and even vocational training centre. He has received a presidential award for his committed service.

As John Keats wrote, “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter.” What really made me wonder-struck was his new project; because I never imagined a priest would dare to have such a dream in that corner of Africa. It is a multi-purpose youth sports centre. Father Romano said, “Kenyan children are talented in sports. They have high chances to win medals in athletics. This centre will help to tap talents of Kenyan children.” Kenyans won 13 Olympic medals in 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Apart from running track, the youth sport centre will also contain a swimming pool, football, net ball and handball pitches. And it is going to open a new door of opportunity for so many young children and one day they are going to make Father Romano proud, I am sure.

Then he said something for which I really admire him. It shows his social vision and charitable heart. “All people ask me why the work is so slow and it doesn’t finish fast. But I have my answer, I think that my community can contribute with kind heart and hard work. What the community around me need the most is opportunity of work.  How can I help them? I decided that I won’t use any machine for this construction. Human labour is used for the entire project and I am happy I am able to help many people to earn their daily bread.”

Warsan Shire is a poet who was born to Somali parents in Kenya. In her poem What They Did Yesterday Afternoon she presents the real picture of the world in which we live. “Later that night/ I held an atlas in my lap/ ran my fingers across the whole world/ and whispered/
where does it hurt?/ it answered/ everywhere/ everywhere/ everywhere.”

What am I doing to help the starving? What am I doing to help the crying? I think these questions may help me to open my heart to the needy and suffering brethren. Pope Francis reminds us, “I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.”

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