Hundreds of thousands are flooding into Europe, fleeing war, persecution or economic hardship. And they are being helped. But what about the victims of war and persecution who stay on in their home countries – like those in Sudan or Burundi? They must not be forgotten during this global crisis.

Most of the Christians in Sudan have known little else but war for decades. Nonetheless, they are still dreaming of, and hoping for, a better future in their own country. The Comboni Sisters and Fathers are helping them to stay faithful to the motto of their founder and first bishop in Khartoum, Saint Daniel Comboni (1831-1880):Save Africa through Africa. The path to a better future is through education. Just as specialist education is necessary for the various different professions, so too specialist knowledge is also necessary to live out the faith, especially in an Islamic environment.

Christian teachers are needed to provide religious instruction in the Comboni schools. Sudan’s Islamic government certainly won’t help. At present 77 students are being trained at the Brother Sergi College, 27 of them are young women. For so many Catholic schoolchildren they are a saving grace, since if the Church does not provide Catholic teaching, they will have to attend Islamic religious teaching, and this has already cost many their faith. We have promised aid towards the cost of training these teachers.

28 of these future teachers come from South Sudan, where bitter warfare is still raging. And many of the 3,600 pupils attending the six boys’ and girls’ schools likewise come from the South, while others are refugees from Darfur or the Nubian mountains. Their families have sought shelter in the archdiocese of Khartoum, which now helps over one million Catholic faithful. In fact the archdiocese is simply overwhelmed by these numbers, but there will not be any help from the state or from the local authorities. We have promised a contribution to support their schools during the current academic year – so that hope may have a future.

Meanwhile, in South Sudan around 70,000 Christians in the Diocese of Malakal are facing hunger and starvation after being driven from their villages by the fighting. Once again, the Comboni Sisters and Fathers are working tirelessly to help them. They need help to purchase millet, particularly for the children and old people.

Similarly, in the small nation of Burundi in the heart of Africa, there is a danger that the refugees and the uprooted will be forgotten. The political crisis that erupted in the spring of 2015 has led to violent unrest, bordering on civil war. Hundreds of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes, roughly 200,000 have gone abroad. Chaos is spreading. Once again it is the Church that is striving to give shelter to the homeless. The national bishops’ conference has appealed for help. Along with other aid agencies, ACN is helping their work. As Christmas approaches, the people of Burundi need to experience the merciful love of Mother Church. There is no greater act of mercy than the Incarnation of the God of Love.

This article can be found in Mirror 0815.