April 4, 2021
During Lent, members of the VIDES community Maria & Richard Lee had a wonderful endeavour raising funds for the Madagascar Project. Please see below for their letter. We hope you will be inspired by their story.
During these days of lockdowns, I turn to the Gospel for comfort. Today, I read the story of the crowd asking Jesus for a miraculous sign. Instead, He offered them the sign of Jonah. Not an appealing sign, as I recall, because after disobeying God, Jonah was shut down in the dark, dank belly of a whale. I had also hoped my Gospel reading would inspire this testimony, but I did not see how the sign of Jonah related to my experience. Yet, the story remained in my mind and I wondered,“If the cross is the sign of Jesus, what is the sign of Jonah? ”
The similarities and contrasts between the signs slowly became clearer. Jesus and Jonah were locked in darkness for three days. Even though Jonah had run away from his mission, God in His great mercy, freed him and returned him to a new life of obedience. Jesus obeyed His Father’s will, unto death, and then resurrected from the tomb and offered us a new, eternal life.
Jonah’s darkness and redemption are also mine because I do not always obey God’s will. One day, however, He called me to Madagascar, it became my mission, my sign and my rebirth.
The first time my husband and I went to Madagascar, we were shocked by the extreme poverty. Someone once said that poverty is punishment for a crime you did not commit. In 2020, the IMF ranked this island the 11th poorest country in the world. Yet the Malagasy are not desperate; in general, they are happy and grateful people, because they have the basic: love of God and family.
My memories of Madagascar are filled with wonder.
I remember the courage of consecrated people, who choose to live among the poorest of the Earth, providing them with the means to live in dignity: education, food, clean water, sanitation, health and pastoral care…
I saw impoverished people sharing the little they had with those even less fortunate. I was awed by the Malagasy’s profound faith. They will walk barefoot, in heavy rains and sliding mud, to go to Mass 30 kms away, and wait to receive the Sacraments outdoors and thoroughly drenched.
The local flora and fauna are also quite spectacular. Madagascar is renowned for being a biodiversity hotspot. There are eight varieties of baobabs in the world, and seven of them are only found on the island. There are no poisonous snakes, no lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes… Although they are the most endangered animals on the planet, the island is home to 105 varieties of lemurs.
An SDB priest, once told us that we had been bitten by the “African Bug.” Worried, I asked how we should protect ourselves. Laughing, he answered that the only known cure is to return to Africa often. We did, but we also made it a mission to help the Salesian Sisters (FMA) from Canada. Generous benefactors cooperated to provide funds for: water wells; sanitation facilities; schoolbooks and classroom supplies; medicine and clinical supplies; maintaining and enlarging schools; a wall protecting the vegetable garden providing food for school children; buying barnyard animals and even a cow for milk, cheese, butter, yogurt…
These life-changing miracles are possible thanks to charitable people like you. “Love comes from God, when we love each other, it shows that we have been given new life.” (1-John 4:7)
Much remains to be done in Madagascar, but the last time we went, there were many positive signs. We saw a man in Manazary, who had lost his sight and couldn’t provide for his family.
The FMA sent him to a school for the blind and paid for his education. Upon his return, the
Sisters offered him a little plot of land with a small hut. He was so proud to show us how he had learned to work his vegetable patch and telling us how his surplus is sold at the market. He remains grateful to God, the FMA and the benefactors having made possible his miracle of rebirth. His personal sign of Jonah.
We returned home filled with the Spirit, with gratitude and awe and some very practical projects. Vides-Canada supports projects directly impacting the lives of women and their children and so here are four very exciting projects:
- Child Sponsorship – Mahajanga
This program provides education, school supplies, food, clean water and health care to the sponsored children. (For further details see: videscanada.ca)
- Agricultural School – Manazary
To the existing farm buildings, the Sisters hope to build an agricultural school which would help stem the rural exodus. Youth seeking employment in big cities often fall prey to drugs and alcohol, or to unscrupulous people who either sell them to human traffickers or organ harvesters. There is also a water canalization project. It would channel the abundant water during the rainy season into a man-made lake, which would be stocked with fish to provide proteins to the diet of the school children. Not only would this program teach students about water conservation, but it would prevent diseases and hunger due to food scarcity during dry season.
- Water Well and Sanitation – Port Bergé – Sr Krystyna
The priority in this new FMA’s mission is to build a clean water well and sanitation facilities. The challenges are enormous in this area: high illiteracy, especially among women; teen pregnancy; rural exodus; lack of clean water and sanitation; food insecurity and severe undernourishment… Four FMA and occasional volunteers from Canada, France, Italy and Poland work here, but lacking housing, they temporarily live at the Bishop’s place. They teach in a makeshift Youth Centre. In time, the Sisters hope to build classrooms and lodgings.
- Ambanja – Sr Germana
This mission is slightly more advanced than Port Bergé. It has 3 kindergarten classes, and two early primary grades. However, funds are needed to buy chairs, desks, blackboards, books and school supplies, to pay teachers’ salaries and build a school canteen.
If you would like to help with any of these projects, contact:
Sr Jeannine Landry, at the Laura Vicuña Centre,
8555 Joliot Curie, Montreal, Que, H1E 4C3
Tel. 416 803-3558, or 514 648-8279
A tax receipt will be provided for donations over $20.00
E-transfer at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Make a cheque to VIDES Canada and send at address above.
In the name of VIDES Canada and our Director, Sr. Jeannine Landry, I would like to thank you for your precious collaboration and generosity. May the light of Jesus’ love guide our steps in our Lenten journey and may His resurrection bring us a new life in accordance to His will!
Maria & Richard Lee
October 25, 2019
Our Dinner Dance fundraiser on Saturday, November 16 will benefit our community in Ethiopia. Your generous donations and the proceeds from ticket sales will be used to purchase food, medicine, school supplies and other necessities for the children.
A volunteer from VIDES Canada, Michelle Zettel, recently went on a mission to Ethiopia. She will be sharing her experience during a presentation at the Dinner Dance.
October 10, 2019
Save the date! Our annual fundraiser is on Saturday, November 16 at 6pm!
The funds will benefit our project in Ethiopia. Thank you in advance for your support! We are so grateful for this wonderful community.
Please note that a small fee is involved if you order the tickets from Eventbrite
You may also order tickets by emailing our director, Sister Jeannine Landry at email@example.com
If you are unable to attend our event but would like to donate to our cause, please click here to see our donation page. All donations of $20 or more will come with a tax receipt. Thank you and God Bless!
June 15, 2019
One of our wonderful volunteers, Maryse Elachkar, wrote a book about her reflections on faith and her relationship with God. This is an uplifting gem of an indie book. Available on Amazon!
Please see the link below for a preview.
November 20, 2018
Our annual fundraiser was a success! Thank you to everyone who supported VIDES by attending, volunteering, donating, decorating and just enjoying yourselves during this event. See below for snapshots of the Culinary Tour Around the World and our wonderful community:
To see more photos of our event, please visit our Facebook page.
July 16, 2018
Our annual fundraiser will be in the fall! The VIDES Canada Board has organized a fun evening of food tasting, cultural exhibits, performances and a chance for you to win prizes!
If you are unable to attend our event but would like to donate to our cause, please click here to see our donation page. All donations of $20 or more will come with a tax receipt. Thank you for your support!
July 8, 2018
Join us at RenewTO – a Young Adult Conference on October 13, 2018. For more information visit http://www.ocytoronto.org/renewto/
Check back soon for new updates!