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Nuns Care for Down Syndrome Children in Kabul

Supported by Pro Bambini di Kabul Association

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«The work of the nuns in Kabul continues tirelessly. We know that in a few days the school year should start again after one month of delay. On returning from the winter holidays, in fact, the snow and cold had frozen the pipes for water supply, but now the problem seems to have been solved. Currently, our three nuns are in charge of educating about forty children with Down syndrome. Students are distributed in 4 classrooms, led by local teachers. Classes begin in the morning, around 8 am and end in the afternoon around 4 pm.»

This is what Father Matteo Sanavio, priest of the Congregation of Rogationist Fathers and contact person of the «Pro Bambini di Kabul» Association, told Agenzia Fides. It was from the cry for help that the Guanellian, Fr. Giancarlo Pravettoni had the idea of creating an inter-congregational association that would respond to Wojtyla’s appeal who, in the Christmas speech of 2001, launched an appeal to the world to save Afghan children.

«The nuns are supported in all by the Association, which lives almost exclusively on donations. Until last year, we had doubts that we could continue this service in 2020, but we organized collections and looked for new supporters. Providence never abandons us,» explained Fr. Sanavio. «All in all, the situation is now fairly calm, we have no news of unrest in Kabul. The biggest problem remains that of guaranteeing a change among the nuns present in the school: in November there were two of them and the situation was rather precarious, but then we managed to guarantee the presence of three nuns again.» In finding the nuns who come for a period of mission, there is a need for nuns who have a culture close to that of Afghanistan or who, at least, know the Arabic language, he said. Above all, it is necessary to find nuns willing to spend two or three years of their life making great sacrifices, in precarious conditions.

In Afghanistan, where Islam is recognized as a state religion, the Catholic presence was admitted at the beginning of the twentieth century as simple spiritual assistance within the Italian Embassy in Kabul, with the first Barnabite priest. In 2002 the «Missio sui iuris» was created by John Paul II. Today the Catholic mission continues to have a base in the diplomatic structure and is entrusted to Barnabite father Giovanni Scalese. The Missionary Sisters of Charity are also operating in the Afghan capital.

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