Abidjan (Ivory Coast). On December 6, 2019, with a short presentation of the history of Abidjan and with the Eucharistic Celebration, the festivities began for the 25 years of the mission of Abidjan on the Ivory Coast, in Mother of God Province (AFO).
Abidjan is a large mission constituted of two communities: the Provincial House with a Professional Center, Primary School, Group Home, and the Novitiate. For this reason it is called Mary Domenica Village.
The Abidjan mission began in 1993 in a populated area of Koumassi-Remblais of Abidjan (Ivory Coast). The three pioneers were Sr. Laura Gaeta, Sr. Bernarda Garcia, and Sr. Rosanna Gatto Monticone.
The Bishop, Msgr. Joseph Akichi, had asked the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians to take care of poor girls. The letter of invitation of the Apostolic Nunzio, Antonio Mattiazzo, of August 4, 1989, reads: “We have studied the possibility of receiving you. You will live with us in an area of Abidjan where there is much to do.”
Sr. Bernarda Garcia recounts how Our Lady did everything, as she did for Don Bosco. “We had a project but we did not have land. And thus, in a meeting with some organisms, I presented the project for the construction of the mission. Immediately, the wife of the Consul of France said: ‘I will take care of this project.’” This benefactress was the first face of Providence. On February 22, 1993, the Municipality granted the land.
On February 9, 1994, Fr. Juan Edmond Vecchi, Salesian Vicar General, in the presence of Sr. Yvonne Reungoat, who was the Provincial, blessed a statue of the Virgin Mary for the beginning of the work, officially inaugurated on June 2, 1995 by the Bishop of Grand Bassam, Msgr. Paul Dacoury Tabley.
On October 13, 1995, the Professional Center was inaugurated. Literacy, sewing, knitting, cooking and confectionery, and typing were the courses offered to young people. The first year there were a hundred girls, all in difficult situations.
The three FMA collaborated with the Salesians in Catechesis and in the accompaniment of youth groups in the parish.
Today, at a distance of 25 years, the mission has grown and the Provincial community continues to accompany 168 young apprentices of the Professional Center in the courses of literacy, sewing, cooking and confectionery for girls who do not have the possibility of attending school.
In 1996, the Province became aware of the need to build a Group Home to gather at risk girls. On October 12, 1997, this structure received 11 girls. In September of 1997, Abidjan became the see of Mother of God Province (AFO), that was first at Lome, in Togo. At that time the Provincial was Sr. VilmaTallone.
In 1999, came the transfer of the Novitiate that was at Duekoue, in the Northeast of the Ivory Coast. Before the Novitiate was built in 2001, the Formator and the Novices occupied an area of the Group Home.
Today, the Novitiate has 36 Novices belonging to the four Provinces – West Africa(AFO), Equatorial Africa (AEC), Angola (AFC), and Madagascar (MDG). The Primary School, opened September 15, 2014, has more than a hundred children.
There are numerous initiatives for the celebration of the 25th like participation in the radio programs at Radio Espoir, the Catholic radio station of Abidjan.
On December 13-14, 2019, there will be two days of ‘open house’ with the possibility of giving visibility to the presence of the Salesian mission of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. The celebrations will conclude on May 13, 2020 on the feast of St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello, the Co-Foundress of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.