With the grace of the Triune God, and the help of our Holy and God – bearing Father St. Dionysius of Olympus, three years have passed since the establishment of our Association, “Missionary Shelter (Ierapostoliki Stegi) St. Dionysius of Olympus”.
It was at the most sacred Patriarchal Temple of St. Savvas, in Alexandria, Egypt, where the first seed of the Mission was plantedin our mind and heart, when, on the 11th of December 2016, the ordination was performed of father Agathonikos, the Bishop of Arusha and Central Tanzania, brother of our Holy Monastery, by His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa. This event was the signal for the establishment of our Association, with our will to participate in the course of the crucified path toward the Resurrection of the Mission of our Church!
The prime mover of this was our Elder, father Maximos, whose love and prayers shelter all this effort. His interest in the progress of the work and his support, mainly spiritual, in the difficult times we are experiencing in Africa, inspires us and gives us courage to continue this difficult, and blessed at the same time, struggle to spread the Gospel.
Of course, all this started at a difficult period for our country, Greece, which is plagued due to the economic crisis by unprecedented difficulties. Thus, the dare to establish an Association seemed unreal. Yet, the soul of the Greek, a Greek person’ snobility and earnestness (filotimo), once again proved that it is impossible to remain deaf to the cries of children who struggle to survive.
Certainly, our goal is to offer, as much as possible, decent living conditions, so that their daily life increasingly becomes more humane! Having this as a goal, throughout these three years, our Association was consumed with a constant daily struggle of offer and love. The work that was unfolding before our eyes was enormous. Despite our small potential, the support of the Members of the Association, and also the present of God was evident in the uphill course that we went through during the past three years.
With the active participation of all members of the Association, the following projects were carried out:
- 11 boreholesinarid, bone-dryareas.
- Offering meals (soup kitchens) after the Divine Liturgy in the various villages and distribution of food to needy families. Through the latter, the needs of needy families are covered for quite a long time.
- Polyclinic equipment at the Kindamali Mission Center. The necessary medical equipment was found through the Association for the commencement of operation of the clinic, while there are efforts being made now in order to find machinery that shall equip specific necessary medical departments, such as microbiology, pediatrics, gynecology-obstetrics, microsurgery and emergency department.
- Money was raised for the purchase of medicines, which are provided to patients free of charge, as Iringa is the poorest and most afflicted region in Tanzania.
- Our Association participated in the renovation of the Mission Center of Kindamali and in the expansion of the girls’ orphanage and the establishment of an orphanage for boys.
- Granting scholarships to children for the completion and continuation of their studies in higher education institutions, since education in Tanzania even from the first grade of the primary school is paid.
- Moreover, with the help of the Association, young natives from Tanzania, officials of the Arusha Diocese, went to the seat of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, in Alexandria, Egypt, in order to learn the Greek language, to get to know the orthodox liturgical tradition and the wealth of orthodoxy. Prerequisite qualification for the subsequent missionary action in their country.
- Equipment of educational institutions, aiming at the smoother and of highest quality conduct of the courses, considering that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.
- Financial support of African university students who study in Greece.
However, a part from this part of the humanitarian aid, which is of great significance and cannot be overlooked, our Association actively participates in the most essential work of the Holy Diocese of Arusha and Central Tanzania, which is the testimony of the orthodox faith.
In this field, our Association plays a significant supporting role. The following projects were carried out over a three-year period:
- Renovation of the Holy Churches of St. Georgios and Panagia of Kykkou in Kindamali; St. Konstantinos and St. Eleni in the village of Kipera; St. Paraskevi the Epivatini in the village of Intondi, and St. Ekaterini in the village of Tanagkozi.
- Baptisms funded with donations of members of the Association. The people who are baptize dare given names of Saints chosen by the members.
- Construction of the Holy Church of the Transfiguration of our Lord, God and Savior, of S. Porphyrius and St. Photius the Great in the village of Igagindunguat an altitude of 2000 m.
- We are also involved in the construction of the Holy Monastery of the Archangel Michael, St. Minas and St. Paisius Velichkovsky in Kindamali, nearthe Mission Center, where our brothers in Central Tanzania shall have the opportunity to experience and learn the orthodox liturgical tradition and life, as such is conveyed and preserved through the centuries through the orthodox monasticism and the ascetic life. Besides, as our Elder, Fr. Maximos, characteristically writes in the pre face of the first magazine that we published, “hesychasm is the heart of the mission”.
- With the help of our Association, a beautiful plot of land, of total surface of 10 stremmas [Translator’s Note: The stremma is a Greek unit of land area that equals to 1.00 sq.m.], was purchased at a central part of the city of Arusha, for the construction of a Mission Center, which shall be the heart, the center, the reference point of the entire mission in Central Tanzania. The fencing of the plot was completed and a bore hole was drilled therein in order to find clean drinking water. At the moment, however, the main project is in progress. The construction of the Holy Church dedicated to the Holy Mother of God, with the chapels of St. Dionysius of Olympus and St. Ekaterini attached thereto. Moreover, our vision is to establish a school, according to the standards of a theological academy, for the best possible education of the native clergy, catechists and staff of the Diocese. Let us support with all our might this significant effort for the construction of the multifunctional Mission Center in the city of Arusha, so that it becomes a spiritual nursery of fragrant spiritual flowers that with zeal and faith shall preach the Gospel of Christ in all cities and villages of the Arusha Diocese.
A bold venture was the publication of the first issue of our magazine titled “In the Foot steps of the Apostle Mark”,which is dedicated first to the visit of His Beatitude Theodoros II, the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa at the Holy Diocese of Arusha and Central Tanzania, and to the works, material and spiritual, that have taken place so far in Tanzania with the assistance of our Association. The magazine is sent free of charge to all members and donors of the Association so that they be informed on the progress of the missionary service in the African continent.
Nevertheless, it is important to mention that our Associational so contributes to emergency needs of our brothers and sisters in the inland of the country by distributing food, medicine and basic necessities.
In order for all these important projects to be carried out, finding financial resources is necessary. For this purpose, a number of actions of both charitable and spiritual nature were developed:
- After no on banquets were held with speakers being the Most Reverend Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol and the Very Reverend Archimandrite Ephraim, Abbot of the Holy and Great Monastery of Vatopaidi.
- Charity bazaar during the festive seasons of Christmas and Easter and in any other occasion with voluntary work of the members of the Association.
- Events in collaboration with other organizations.
- Publication of a magazine titled “IN THE FOOSTEPS OF THE APOSTLE MARK”.
- Pilgrim tours.
- Information events in schools and associations.
- Volunteers traveling to Tanzania.
We oweanimmense debt of gratitude to the Patriarch and father of this martyr continent, His Beatitude, Theodoros II, the Head of the Throne of Alexandria, whose love and interest follows us every step of the way in Africa.
Moreover, we express our thanks to the Most Reverend Metropolitan Georgios of Kitros, Katerini and Platamonas, the paternal wishes of whom protect and support every activity of our Association.
So, these three years we have traveled a journey that was full of difficulties, perhaps even deadlocks, but at the same time overflooded with blessing and joy, that only the path of offer and humanness offers. A path that was first walked by His Grace Bishop Agathonikos of Arusha and Central Tanzania and that we all followed him with love and shall continue to follow as long as God allows it.
Amen. So be it!
Archimandrite Porhypios from Olympus
Protosyncellus of the HolyDiocese of Arusha and Central Tanzania