2004 Report

March 02 2005 | by

We are pleased to inform you, dear reader, that the 2004 Balance Sheet of Saint Anthony's Charities contains some pleasant surprises! The sum total of funds received amounts to about $2,873,000 - not bad during a sluggish economic recovery. But the real satisfaction comes from the long list of micro-projects funded: 173 in all for 37 different countries!

Tacit agreement

All the brainstorming, the endless rounds of meetings, and the tons of paperwork processed by our offices have been amply rewarded. People's material and spiritual well-being is the end all and be all of our efforts, says Father Luciano Massarotto, Director of Saint Anthony's Charities. We have a tacit agreement both with the readers of the Messenger of Saint Anthony, who often send money by sacrificing their own interests, and with those who enjoy their generosity: not to waste money by using it as effectively as possible.
Such a long list of projects reveals our underlying strategy. People's fundamental needs, especially in countries with the lowest standards of living, can best be met by granting small loans to fund the right projects: this can work miracles, Father Luciano explains. A single water-well can considerably improve life for a whole village: women will be exempted from travelling miles to fetch water, the girls will be able to attend school, the access to clean water will limit the spread of diseases, and the unclean water now in excess can be used for breeding livestock and farming.
It is for this reason that almost 90 percent of the 173 projects are micro-projects, 65 percent of which cost less than $13,000 each. We try to obtain the best results with the least efforts, so as to extend our solidarity to ever greater numbers of people. This is in perfect accord with Franciscan solidarity: care and attention for the poorest of the poor until one finally makes direct human contact with the single person, be they children, the elderly or the sick. Every single life is precious and unique, always and everywhere.

Economic independence

These small projects do not assist people in the usual sense of the word, but aim at making them economically independent. The best way to achieve this is not by overturning their lives, but by directing them to an economic activity within reach of their personal skills and training. Most of these projects are designed to suit African and Asian realities. These two continents alone received 65 percent of the money allocated by Saint Anthony's Charities in 2004. The projects centred on satisfying basic life necessities: water, health and education. Most of the projects were aimed at establishing small family businesses: breeding of livestock, farming and various trades. Many vocational courses were funded to provide women and young people with a means of livelihood. However, most of our aid and attention went to children in projects catering for schooling, orphanages, nutrition and health care.
Children were again at the forefront of our concerns in the June 2004 Iraq Campaign, which consisted of four projects. The enemy this time is the war that has so far killed thousands of civilians, including many children. We do not normally intervene in war zones, Father Luciano continues, because in such situations projects often come to naught. But we felt that it was important to sow seeds of hope in Iraq. A clash of civilizations is taking place in that country, which was once one of the cradles of Christianity. In Saint Francis' footsteps, we want to answer hate with love.

The tsunami

We cannot conclude this report without mentioning the awful calamity that struck South East Asia last December. The region was already in our hearts and prayers before the tsunami: about 20 projects were funded in 2004 precisely in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, one of the worst hit areas. 56 projects are currently underway in the whole of India, and we have missions of Conventual Franciscans both in India and in Indonesia. This tragedy is also our tragedy, and we want to be in the forefront of the material and human reconstruction effort, especially when the world's attention will begin to wane, and those hardest hit will be left alone, with only the missionaries and volunteers left to help them, irrespective of race, sex and religion, just like Saint Anthony would have done.

Updated on October 06 2016