January Eruption in Congo Destroyed 40 Schools

ROME, FEB. 25, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Jan. 18 volcanic eruption of Nyiragongo in Congo destroyed 40 schools, most of them run by the Catholic Church, leaving 24,000 children without schooling and 700 teachers without work.

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The extent of the damage was reported to the African Catholic agency CISA by missionary Father Patxi Otondo, parish priest of Our Lady of Africa, in West Goma.

International help is still needed, and the situation is complicated because Goma is held by guerrilla forces, the priest explained.

Business is almost at a standstill. Some fear that Mount Nyiragongo could erupt again, threatening 500,000 lives, Father Otondo continued.

Father J.M. Balegamire of the Crisis Committee has called for help from various groups. The International Bureau of Solidarity reported pledges of financial support from sister offices worldwide. A «tent school» has been set up in Goma to help students finish their academic year.

Meanwhile, Marist schools worldwide organized programs, special prayers and financial support to rebuild the Marist-administered school in Bobandana, damaged by violent storms Feb. 8.

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