Layman and 2 Religious Awarded the "Missionary's Nobel"

Recognized for Efforts in Africa

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BRESCIA, Italy, OCT. 21, 2002 ( A Xaverian religious, a St. Dorothy nun and a layman were honored with what is generally known as the «Missionary’s Nobel.»

The Friendly Heart Award — its more formal title — was conferred here Saturday by Cardinal Ersilio Tonini, archbishop emeritus of Ravenna.

One of those honored is Sister Lucia Sabbadin, a missionary doctor of the Teaching Sisters of St. Dorothy, who works in the hospital of Bukavu, Congo, close to the Rwandan border.

The Bukavu hospital was built in 1929, and always faced difficulties. In 1995, its 15 wards were entrusted to the diocese, which in the meantime had set up a school of medicine.

Funds from Belgium and France helped make possible the restructuring of the buildings and the establishment of new sections. Today the Bukavu hospital offers endoscopies and surgeries, and aims to open a section for malnourished children.

Twenty doctors, including seven specialists, work in the hospital, which is also a university clinic that now accommodates 40 medical students. The hospital is invaluable as a medical training center, in a country where doctors are scarce.

«The war continues, but so does reconstruction,» Sister Lucia said. «We live from what our patients give us. People here are very poor. In Africa, care is given to those who can pay; the rest are abandoned to their fortune. We accept everyone; it is our mission.»

Father Giuseppe De Cillia, a Xaverian missionary, has spent 38 years in Burundi. He lives in a truck and travels over the hills of this small African country to carry water where there is none, and to build schools and hospitals without neglecting apostolic work.

«I was chosen because I am the most visible, because of the humanitarian aid, hospitals, aqueducts, schools,» Father De Cillia said. «However, the most important work is to preach hope, and there are many of us who do that.»

Giorgio Predieri, 53, a lay physician, is responsible for the Ampasimanjeva hospital in Madagascar. The 120-bed facility is in the south-central part of the island, where he has lived for 30 years.

Initially, Predieri was a volunteer mason who also carried out technical services.

«The hospital was built in 1960 by German Catholics,» he recalled. «After a few years, other ways of funding had to be identified and the Diocese of Fianarantsoa, which includes Ampasimanjeva, could not cope with that undertaking.»

In 1968, thanks to the work of Father Mario Prandi, founder of the Houses of Charity, direct contact was established with the Diocese of Reggio, in Italy.

«Doctors were needed, specialized personnel, even more than money,» Predieri explained. «That link between Italy and Madagascar has been reinforced until it has become a close and organic relation.»

Illnesses are treated in the hospital that have virtually disappeared in the West, such as leprosy, tuberculosis and malaria. The greatest effort is directed at prevention. Patients lack resources, and the health system is maintained through contributions. Patients cover only 10% of the budget.

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