Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). On 17 February 2024, on the occasion of her visit to Burkina Faso from 15 to 22 February, as Secretary of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, Sister Alessandra Smerilli, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, met with the Sisters of Mary Help of Christians Community in Koubri – Ouagadougou, Mother of God Province (AFO).

“I am here to bring Pope Francis’ closeness to these troubled populations,” she said, explaining her journey, and added “Staying here, I had the opportunity to visit the national museum and learn about the variety of cultures and ethnicities. I also visited some religious communities and the Cathedral. Our Church is alive and dynamic here in Burkina, and this gives so much consolation.”

In the capital, she also worked with the Administrative Council of the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, composed of nine countries of the Sahel region, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad.

“I came to Ouagadougou to attend the Administrative Council of the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel. The work is going well and it is very important for me to know better the challenges of these territories, from the economic and social, but also ecclesial, point of view”, she explained. (cf. Dicastery for Integral Human Development)

Accompanied by two members of her staff, Sister Alessandra was warmly welcomed by the resident girls with a song, and with great joy by the Sisters of the Community: Sister Berenice Goudjo, Sister Adjei Cecilia, and Sister Teresa Kitema. To make them feel at home, the guests were offered a natural Zomkoom drink and a traditional hat as a sign of welcome to Burkina Faso.

Sister Alessandra took the opportunity to learn more about the mission of the FMA, but also the challenges of the territory, from the economic, social, and ecclesial points of view. The FMA Community manages a Professional Center where 275 young people are trained. The majority of students are girls who prepare in Cutting and Sewing, Hairdressing, Cooking and Pastry. The residents welcomed this year are 24 girls.

The Sisters are also engaged in parish catechesis, in the oratory, in activities for women in the various nearby towns of Koubri. In addition to these activities, the mission has a cafe and pastry shop where Sister Alessandra had lunch with the Community. It serves as an internship for students in the kitchen and pastry areas. She expressed her joy and satisfaction at visiting the mission even though it was a Saturday, and she could not see all the students at work.

In bringing Pope Francis’ closeness to the people of Burkina Faso, she said, “Coming to Africa always means meeting a continent and a young faith. As a Salesian Sister, who by vocation is at the service of young people, this continent represents a call and a promise.”

The visit of the Secretary of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development is a source of hope for the FMA, which felt her fraternal presence, and for Burkina Faso, which still needs so much prayer so that violence may cease and the people may progress in peace.


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