Catholic Charity Organization Strengthening Children Evangelization in Sierra Leone

Children at St Teresa of the Child Jesus Parish in Bo. Sierra Leone reading Child'sBible, "God speaks to His children."
Credit: Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

At Sierra Leone’s Diocese of Bo, children are being mentored to reach out to other children from deprived backgrounds in the West African country, thanks to a pontifical charity organization that is distributing religious materials to the Diocese.

Through an initiative dubbed the ACNChild’sBible by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Catholic charity organization is reaching out to Sierra Leone’s children, some that have never seen books in their lives, according to a Priest overseeing the execution of the project in the country.

A Monday, September 21 communique on the Charity organization’s website reveals that there are 150 Catholic schools in the Sierra Leonean diocese, each with a population of up to a thousand pupils, sometimes with no books stocked for the children.

In many of these schools, ACN leadership points out, only one book, “God speaks to His Children” is available, through the ACNChild’sBible initiative, in several copies to help proclaim the Gospel to the children in the West African country.

“It’s quite a special experience for these children to actually hold a book in their hands,” Fr. Antonio, a Salesian Cleric trying to rebuild the missionary work of Saint Therese Catholic Parish in the Diocese of Bo, Sierra Leone tells ACN.

With the Child’s Bible the Cleric says, the children “can learn to read and at the same time come to know the Word of God.”

“Reading opens the eyes, the intellect and the heart, while the Word of God builds them up,” the Salesian Cleric says.

According to Fr. Antonio, the ACN Bible for children is a treasure to all the children who hold the book dearly. 

He narrates to the Pontifical charity organization how he once asked one class of children how much they thought the book cost on the market but the children kept quiet.

The Salesian Priest went ahead to estimate, in front of the class, that the book could cost around €5, an equivalent of 50,000 Leones and asked the children how much, of the 50,000 Leones they would be willing to contribute.

“They thought maybe around 1,000 Leones,” ACN reports, quoting Fr. Antonio who then asked the children to bring the amount.

“Every time you read the book, say a prayer for the people who have contributed the other 49,000,” the Cleric reportedly told the children urging them to pray for their benefactors.

Fr. Antonio’s idea has seen children in Sierra Leone rise up to help in evangelizing to other children who cannot access religious resources for spiritual formation.

With the 1,000 Leones that the Priest collected for each book from children in each of the classes, he was able to fund the summer camp for those pupils who could not afford to give anything.

“Again and again Father Antonio reminds the children about those people working quietly in the background, without whom the Word of God could not be spread,” ACN leadership has reported.

The children reflect on the lives of people around the world who “can hardly move but who sit in his wheelchair translating the Child’s Bible into the local dialect,” according to the teachings that Fr. Antonio is instilling in the children.

The Catholic aid organization further reports that the Cleric has learned the local language Bariba in Benin, thanks to ACNChild’sBible, and also the Moba dialect in the north of Togo.

The book is also a kind of Family Bible, ACN leadership reports, adding that many adults are keen to purchase it for themselves, their children and grandchildren.

Fr. Antonio has since written to the aid agency, requesting for an additional 5,000 copies for the schools in the diocese.

“We have promised him €10,000 towards the cost in order to build and strengthen the parish of Saint Therese with God’s Word for his children,” the leadership of ACN has reported.

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