The Saint’s Suburbs

April 04 2018 | by

ITHANGA, Monte Santo and Biniya – you could be forgiven for not knowing where they are:  almost invisible specks on the maps of Kenya, Brazil and India. Three tiny dots on St Anthony’s Charities’ special map of the world, made up of small towns and villages, mostly in rural areas or in poor city neighbourhoods. Places Pope Francis calls the “suburbs of the world.”

 In 2017, in this geography of the infinitely small, we helped almost one million people, creating 129 projects for a total of €3,165,000. Each dot on the map represents a story of rebirth, carried out by lay and religious missionaries of all nationalities and origins. The three places mentioned above are examples of this Franciscan way of understanding charity: in Ithanga we helped Sister Liliana complete the maternity ward in an area where the nearest hospital is 45km away; in Monte Santo, we walked in the steps of Father Marco to build 23 wells in the surrounding villages; and in Binya, we answered Sister Reeja’s appeal and completed a hostel and protected 400 pupils from snake bites.

Saint Anthony’s ‘suburbs’ are as large as the world, but Africa is at its centre with 68 projects and 45 percent of resources used. But India has the largest number of micro-projects, 21 in total, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo with 17. Unsurprisingly, the Asian continent is in second place, with 27 percent of the total sum for 2017.

The 2017 beneficiaries are once again the classic categories of Anthonian charity: children and young people, to which ‘communities’ were added a few years ago, especially in the most isolated rural areas.


Africa and Latin America


Schools, health / hygiene, human promotion, access to water, professional training, and home, are the main areas of intervention in our large ‘suburbs’; interventions that vary depending on the area. In Africa, schools are in first place, but great importance has also been given to access to drinking water and health projects, such as support for small hospitals and dispensaries. “In these countries,” says Father Valentino Maragno, director of St Anthony’s Charities, “it is vital to prevent diseases, many of which depend on contaminated water. Additionally, many villages lack medical facilities, and providing them even with minimal health facilities saves hundreds of lives. On this continent we are giving more and more attention to community agriculture and the installation of solar systems.” In Latin America, however, priority is being given to community projects, labelled as ‘human promotion’: agricultural projects, work cooperatives for single mothers, community meeting and training centres: “Priorities dictated by the reality of local communities, where the family is often broken up, and women and children are at great risk of poverty. Here the community provides, meets needs and develops strategies to avoid social exclusion.”


Asia: women and girls


In Asia, too, schools took the lion’s share, but training and job-creation projects were also important, especially for women and girls, the most vulnerable of the population. “Among the most requested projects was the construction of bathrooms for community buildings, seemingly marginal achievements, but which actually cover a lack accumulated over the years. For decades, for example, classrooms were built for hundreds of children, without even providing a toilet.”

Across all countries, the most requested interventions concerned the construction (55 projects) or renovation of buildings (12 projects), achievements that took almost 70 percent of the 2017 resources. “Projects for building schools, dispensaries, wells, and multipurpose rooms are out of reach of most of the communities in which we operate,” says Fr. Maragno. “We almost never give full funding, but work with contributions from other charitable organisations and local people, with a view to networking and synergy, which is typical of St Anthony’s Charities.”

Unusually, in 2017 there were many housing projects for medical and school staff: “Until a few years ago we did not cover these costs,” Fr. Maragno explains. “Then, we realised that without minimal living conditions, no doctor or teacher is willing to move to isolated and difficult areas, thus leaving even minimal services to the most needy population uncovered.”  Even the construction of hostels near schools is fundamental, especially in isolated areas where attending classes involves hours of walking and dangers of all kinds, in particular for girls.


Support of micro-projects


Apart from some rare exceptions concerning the 13 June projects launched for the feast of our Saint, St Anthony’s Charities remains an organisation which supports micro-projects: 36 percent of the projects have a cost between €20,000 and €30,000, and 27 percent are under €10,000 – each with a high cost-benefit ratio.

The response to the June 2017 project to help the women of a poor village in Pakistan was generous and convincing. Construction of the Vocational Training Centre has already reached a good point and it is estimated that it will be operational next Spring.


2018 June 13 Project


And what awaits us this coming June? “This time we are going to Ecuador in Latin America, to one of the poorest and most abandoned places on earth. The beneficiaries will be households who do not own their own land, live in the forest in makeshift hovels, and cultivate small patches of earth torn from the scrubland.” We will be close to the most distant, in another corner of our immense suburbs, where poverty is often accompanied by catastrophic natural events such as earthquakes and floods, in the name of Saint Francis and Saint Anthony and our charity to the infinitely small.





Our readers in North America continue in their great generosity. The Anthonian Association of the Friends of Saint Anthony of Padua (AAFSAP) in the USA donated a total of US$255,901 of which $25,000 went to projects in the US. Funds sent outside the US were $39,250 to Zambia, $7,500 to India, $30,000 to Brazil, $40,000 to the Philippines, $9,500 to Congo, $15,000 to Kenya, $30,000 to Mozambique, $5,180 to Vietnam, $20,000 to Chile, and finally $34,471 to St. Anthony’s Charities June 13 Project in Pakistan.

Saint Anthony of Padua Mission Aid (SAPMA) in Canada donated a total of CAD$492,000. Of this sum, $124,000 went toward initiatives within Canada (such as Silent Children Mission and the Scalabrini Center – MTL). The rest of the funds were allocated as follows: $125,000 to St. Anthony’s Charities June 13 Project in Pakistan, and an additional $111,000 to other projects promoted by the Saint’s charitable organisation in Padua.

The rest of the sums ($132,000) went to two initiatives in the US (FrancisCorps and St Tekawitha Shrine), one in Italy, and the rest to third world countries.

Our readers and donors in North America never let the Saint down!






Schooling 31

Health/Hygiene 30

Human Promotion 28

Water 22

Vocational Training 7

Housing 6

Microcredit 3

Other 2

TOTAL: 129



Population 41

Young people 36

Children/teenagers 27

Disabled 10

Women 8

Other 7

TOTAL: 129



Building  55

Equipment 34

Renovation 12

Farming/Breeding 8

Education 7

Health 5

Nutrition 2

Other 6



Assistance 7

Development 122



AFRICA                                      €1,422,600

Burkina Faso                                 €82,300

Burundi                                         €41,000

Cameroon                                      €33,500

Ghana                                            €62,900

Guinea-Bissau                               €35,000

Ivory Coast                                     €44,700

Kenya                                             €80,700

Malawi                                            €31,500

Nigeria                                            €5,000

Central African Republic                €18,000

D.R. Congo                                    €370,800

Republic of Guinea                        €14,600

Rwanda                                          €99,500

Sudan                                            €10,000

Tanzania                                        €263,700

Uganda                                         €195,400

Zambia                                           €34,000

ASIA                                             €879,000

India:                                                  €520,000

Kazakhstan:                                           €6,000

West Bank:                                           €20,000

Pakistan:                                             €333,000


AMERICA                                €368,720

Argentina:                                     €10,000

Bolivia:                                          €8,000

Brazil:                                            €28,400

Chile:                                             €25,000

Colombia:                                      €9,500

Ecuador:                                        €265,820

Peru:                                              €22,000


EUROPE                                    €421,950

 Albania:                                         €39,400

Italy:                                              €323,050                               

Romania:                                       €59,500


OCEANIA                                   €73,000

Papua New Guinea:                      €58,000

Solomon Islands:                          €15,000


PROJECTS & RESOURCES PER CONTINENT                                   Sub-Totals

N° of projects

AFRICA: (68)                                                                                            €1,422,600

ASIA: (24)                                                                                                 €879,000

EUROPE: (17)                                                                                           €421,950

AMERICA: (17)                                                                                         €368,720

OCEANIA: (3)                                                                                             €73,000

TOTAL:  (129)                                                                       €3,165,270


Updated on April 04 2018