Sr. Vicky Ciharhula, in Bamako, Mali, tells us about how the Bishops got involved in her work for the environment and against human trafficking.
Environment Animation in the Diocese of Sikasso
In October 2021, the Justice-Peace-Integrity of Creation – Interreligious Dialogue (JPIC-DI) (a workshop of the Union of Catholic Religious of Mali, of which I am a member) received a request from the diocese of Sikasso to animate two days in the week of the Diocesan Pastoral Days. The theme given by the diocese was: “Laudato Si’: The question of the environment in a pastoral perspective”.
On the appointed day we went to the centre where the pastoral agents were gathered. The welcome was very warm and the atmosphere was relaxed. We started by pointing out the theological basis of the environmental issue in the Scriptures and in the social doctrine of the Church. Then “Laudato Si’” received special attention. People were amazed, even some priests… The work in discussion groups was very lively. For some, especially the laity and many religious, it was a discovery.
It was beautiful to see the bishop in his working group, arguing and defending his point of view on an equal footing with the other members of the group.
We asked also for an officer of the Provincial Environmental Department to speak about the local situation and it was a revelation for many as it brought the theory home and helped to think through an action plan. Each parish was able to make its own action plan to contextualise the diocesan plan in its specific context.
Common to the parishes were:
– the fight against deforestation with awareness campaigns, training in the construction and use of improved stoves and intensify reforestation campaigns.
– the fight against harmful chemicals in agriculture with awareness campaigns on the effects of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc. as well as advocacy to reduce and then ban their use.
– the promotion of organic gardening with training for gardeners and families (regardless of faith) to compost
To start the reforestation immediately, the Provincial Environment office gave us 60 plants which we distributed to the participants. I hope that the trees grow well in the different environments…
The Birth of the Talitha Kum Network in Mali
In December 2021, we were invited to a training session of Talitha Kum Burkina. The JPIC-DI workshop delegated me to represent it at this meeting. Two other people came from Mali, Sister Marie-Chantal and Mr. Daniel Sidibé.
As soon as we returned from the session, we held our first meeting. Father Nicolas M.Afr, joined us and we contacted Sr. Clémence Sawadogo, the Africa coordinator of Talitha Kum. We continue our meetings and members of different congregations and nationalities are registered. The 6 Dioceses of Mali are also represented. In the meantime, we are organising the official launch of the Talitha Kum Mali network for next February. We expect more or less 1000 participants. The Spirit always surprises us! When we informed the bishops of our respective dioceses about this project, they all welcomed the news and informed us that the ordinary session of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) was being held in the following days and had as its theme: the fight against human trafficking… Could there be a better coincidence? This encouraged us to put the Talitha Kum network under the patronage of the CEM and without hesitation, the president of the CEM accepted. I am very grateful to our Congregation which is strongly involved in this journey towards Talitha Kum Mali.
We are all bearers of hope, hand in hand with others!
Sr. Vicky Ciharhula, Bamako, Mali