Hope Among Turmoil: Mission in Madagascar

Hope Among Turmoil: Mission in Madagascar

By Kevin & Rev. Donna Steckline – Christ Episcopal Church, Gilbertsville NY, Episcopal Diocese of Albany.

When we arrived in Madagascar and got off the plane, we immediately saw poverty, garbage strewn streets, blank faces and stares at each street corner.  We realized the reality of the starving world right in front of us, the same as if we were in Sudan, Haiti or any other third world country.

The same feelings well up inside me bringing me close to tears as in times past, asking the Lord, “How can I help these people?  What can I offer in order to help this mass of poverty and illness that is before me?”

Ladies stripping the leaves from a tree to cook and put over rice – commonly used for blood pressure issues.

We soon arrived in Toliara, the 5th largest city in the country but has limited industry, and the poverty is starkly apparent, even more than it was in the Capital.  Bp. Todd and Patsy started with 3 churches in 2006. They have established 80 churches in 10 years in a diocese that is the size of Florida. It takes 6 days to travel through the diocese.  Unfortunately, the ratio is only one priest for 10 churches and transportation is mostly by foot or bicycle.  The Diocese of Toliara has 1.5 million people who are “Food Insecure.”  This means they do not know where their next meal is coming from, which became very apparent when examining the children and the elderly in the medical clinics.

We traveled to five different locations for the clinics, serving the many people who came for care.  Many of the patients, both young and old had diseases that have progressed well past the available treatments.  Many needed diagnostics that just are not available in the local area and people cannot travel to the capital nor could they afford to, so they suffer.  We saw mothers with malnourished children with no social support systems to obtain food or formula for their babies, so they are fed a rice gruel that has minimal nutritional value.

Praying for patients before they see the doctor.

We witnessed children who were 1-2 years old, not yet walking with flaccid extremities and could hardly keep their head up to nurse due to malnutrition.

Despite this turmoil, there is a community of hope, set in the midst of deep darkness and despair, severe poverty and starvation.  It is a community which has been planted by Bp. Todd and Rev. Patsy McGregor as they planted this new diocese of Toliara. Today there is a cathedral and gathering place in the diocese. Malagasy have come to worship, learn skills to start their own business, and participate in training for evangelism. They are filled with the hope of Jesus Christ and they grow in their faith and come together as a community.

The Malagasy people, as a population are in the same situation across the diocese.  Their faith gives them hope for the future.  Perhaps God’s ultimate plan for us is a ministry of presence.  We walk alongside our brothers and sisters assuring them that their toil is remembered by us, we have not forgotten them; they remain on our hearts. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen,” (Hebrews11:1) so we remain hopeful.

Click here for original story and more about Madagascar.

Cathy’s Caribbean Quarterly 10th Anniversary Edition

Cathy’s Caribbean Quarterly 10th Anniversary Edition

 

When I moved to the Dominican Republic 10 years ago, I didn’t know how long I would be here, and I still don’t know.  Throughout these 10 years, the ministry has morphed from primarily treating patients needing physical therapy, to primarily teaching Dominican physical therapy students, which certainly has a greater impact on how Dominicans are treating their patients.  God has been very active throughout these years here, preparing me all along through relationships established and experience gained for each phase of the ministry.  In addition to the physical therapy aspect of the ministry, God has been using me in my congregation and community in various service ministry roles. 

This edition will have fewer words and more pictures, in a recap of these years of ministry.  More photos are available on my website.  Thank you for joining this ministry!  Please continue to pray for the students, the Dominican therapists, the community of Santa Fe and for God’s love to reach all corners of this island!

Consolation ministry (2008-now): Juan who suffered a spinal cord injury and returned home without hope.

Clinic work (2007-2012 patient care, 2012-now ancillary role):  Therapy staff with students from Regis University at my house.

Las Chicas Nices (2008-now): We are singing at the Encuentro en Mision 2013 in the cathedral.  (Photo courtesy of Julius Ariail)

University ministry (2010-now) Some of my students learning wheelchair mobility.

Construction ministry (2017): Maria is in her new, indoor kitchen.

 

Thank you for your support for this ministry!  May God bless and keep you as you bless those you meet.

                                                                                In Christ,

                                                                                Cathy

Cathy Donahoe is a SAMS Missionary and Physical Therapist serving in the Dominican Republic.

Donations: SAMS, PO Box 399; Ambridge, PA  15003 with Cathy Donahoe in the memo line of the check or go to the website https://secure-q.net/Donations/SAMS/3311 or http://samsusa.org/givetomissionaries

Cards/letters: Cathy Donahoe, Apartado 587, San Pedro de Macoris 21000, Dominican Republic

Loving Honduras May 2017

Loving Honduras May 2017

We purchased a lot for the kindergarten, and work has begun on its fence. The materials have been delivered, and the trenches are almost finished. Meanwhile, the city of Danli passed a budget which includes the promised funds to build the kindergarten building. The kindergarten has a teacher, Edgar Tercero, and meets in the community center while the kindergarten is being built.The kindergarteners receive bags of hygiene kits from Christ Child Society. It’s their first time to have their own soap, shampoo, washcloth, comb, toothbrush and toothpaste. Read more in Jeannie’s May 2017 Newsletter

 

Cathy Caribbean Quarterly March Update

Cathy Caribbean Quarterly March Update

Thanks to folks who responded with support for this new housing project, we have begun helping families. Mae is a widower with serious health issues that prevents her from being able to work. While she has a daughter, who is a professional, that daughter has a family with 3 children to care for as well. Her daughter helps as much as possible with medicines, it never seems to be enough and the condition of Mae’s house has been out of reach for needed repairs. As you see in the picture, the wood supporting her roof was rotten in many places. Working together with a local man skilled in construction, she sought others to help with the labor and our housing committee purchased the new wood and other supplies needed to repair her roof. It is still possible to join in this project as there are many families with needs. If you feel called to donate to this specific project, please send a check made out to SAMS, with “Donahoe project” in the memo line. 100% of your donation will go to materials and labor to improve people’s living conditions which will positively impact their health as well. Please pray for this ministry to make wise decisions and right actions to best benefit our neighbors in need.

The PT clinic continues to be of service to the community. The months of December and January are typically slow months due to various holidays, but even so the PT area stayed steady. February has seen increasing numbers of treatments given per week with high levels of patient satisfaction. There is still much to be done as we try to negotiate with insurances to be providers which will help ensure the sustainability of the clinic and as we further promote the service now offered. Please pray that the clinic continues to serve with integrity and thus become self-sustaining.

May you always sense God’s loving guidance and comfort in your life!

In Christ,
Cathy