When Saint Francis personally fed hungry lepers and washed and bandaged their sores, they experienced the love of Jesus. In the face of St. Francis, those most abandoned and neglected of human souls came to know the face of Christ. Franciscan missionaries today continue to treat the sick and the dying as St. Francis did. Together we reflect the face of Christ.
Father Victor Quematcha, OFM sees Jesus in the faces of people suffering life-threatening diseases every day. He is the director of our Franciscan hospital in Cumura, Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. Unfortunately, leprosy is still prevalent in many developing countries of the world. Guinea-Bissau is one of those countries. Franciscans were sent there over fifty years ago to minister to people with leprosy. Our Franciscan hospital in Cumura treats patients afflicted with other dreadful, life-threatening diseases. Malaria, AIDS, and tuberculosis are common. But now during the pandemic, our hospital is seeing many patients who are testing positive for COVID-19.
Today, the Need is Great
Last year the hospital treated about fifty new patients in the emergency room every day and over 2,900 had to be admitted during the year! Many people walked for miles to get to our hospital. But during this global pandemic, over one hundred people are seeking treatment in the emergency room every day! In such a poor country where malnutrition is common, food is the first medicine for patients because their immune systems must be strengthened.
During this time of pandemic crisis, Fr. Victor and the other friars have lost much of their local support and do not have the money to purchase food for their patients. They have asked for an emergency grant of $19,000 to help them purchase enough food to get through the next three months of the pandemic. I ask you to open your heart once again to support our missionary friars working in our hospital in Cumura. They work all day treating people with life-threatening, dangerous diseases because they see Jesus in each one of them.
An Urgent Plea for Help
Fr. Victor and the friars pray every day for good and generous friends like you who support their work. It costs about $600,000 a year to operate the Cumura hospital. This includes the pharmacy, caring for the lepers during and after treatment, caring for children, and feeding all the patients. Medicine is also very expensive and supplies of it at the hospital are running short. It costs about $374 a day for the medicines used at our hospital, a little more than $3 dollars for one patient per day. I pray you will understand the urgency of the situation at our Franciscan hospital in Cumura during this pandemic. Can you offer today your prayers and financial support to help Fr. Victor and our other friars buy food and medicine for people suffering from life-threatening diseases?
Please help as best you can. Any gift would make a difference, and the food and medicine you help provide will be reflections of Christ to those who are suffering!
May your heart be filled with the Lord’s peace and joy through your goodness to the poor.
Brother Andrew Brophy, OFM
P.S. October is the month when we celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. We will have a novena of Masses honoring him. Please send me your intentions with your gift so we can remember the needs closest to your heart.