Peru is the country in South America most adversely affected by Coronavirus with more than 45,000 people infected with the virus and more than 1,200 dead.
The help sent from Malta through St. Paul’s Missionary Society was like manna from heaven especially in these challenging times. Bishop Giovanni Cefai said that many families were struggling because of the restrictions and he was doing his best to be close to them.
Over the weekend Bishop Giovanni Cefai and other volunteers unloaded a truck filled with sacks of rice and pasta, boxes of oil, and many other essentials and packed them in bags to distribute to the poor people living in the mountains and a number of small villages in Huancané, Peru, a land area 60 times larger than Malta and Gozo with a population of 200,000.
“When you see the suffering of these abandoned people, it’s a real heartache. I am often reduced to tears, believe me. When I see this misery, I can’t hold back the tears.”
This work puts into practice the missionary’s vocation and his thirst for helping others – a Bishop who is truly a shepherd who looks after his sheep.
“The fact that a bishop went into their home, met them, and talked to them is something that they appreciate. I often sit next to their bed or on the floor because most of them don’t have a chair, on a bench. That I listen to them and talk to them, is enough and already gives them a lot of confidence and courage. ”
He said that due to the Coronavirus pandemic, life for these families has become more difficult. People have been in a lockdown for seven weeks and the restrictions are not minimal.
“We can’t go outside after 5 in the evening, until 5 in the morning the following day. And on Sunday no one can go out on the street. Other days we can go out with permits.”
Bishop Cefai is allowed to visit priests in the parishes, to support them while also meeting with families in great poverty and suffering.
“These people are living in misery, people who literally have nothing to eat. For the last three weeks / month, they have told me ‘Father, the only thing we can cook is with firewood because we have nothing else, water with potatoes.’ That’s their food. ”
The bishop said that these people leave a great sadness in his heart that extinguishes the fatigue of long journeys through mountains and valleys and narrow roads, dusty surface and that he has to pass through to reach the parishes.
“I have a pick-up and load about 50 or 60 hampers each weighing about 15 kilos. We help them with everything we receive from Malta, in fact most of the help we receive is from Malta, through donations. ”
He feels that missionaries often experience the miracle of the loaves and fishes. This is what brings satisfaction to the bishop: bringing Jesus to these people and sharing with them the great love and mercy of God.