Portraits of some projects supported by Operation Hope

This section presents different projects supported by the Operation Hope solidarity fund on different continents.

To send a donation to Operation Hope, you can find details here.

Bangladesh | Supporting different schools

Operation Hope has been supporting schools for several years in Mymensingh, Bangladesh. In all, more than 1500 children study in these schools. These are also places where young Muslim, Hindu and Christian teachers learn to work together. All are students who have to pay for their studies. They understand that if they wish to receive help for themselves, they must also give something: some of their time to run schools for poor children. Being at the service of the poor reinforces the feeling of being part of a single human family.

The stipend program schools in Mymensingh

Cambodia | A place for the sick

From 2008 until 2020, Operation Espérance supported a hospital for the sick created by the parish of the Infant Jesus in Boeng Tumpun, Cambodia. To meet the needs of poor villagers from the different provinces of the country, the parish launched this project which promotes the dignity of the sick and provides them with the necessary care. Proximity to the capital, Phnom Penh, facilitates access to hospitals if necessary. The donations make it possible to contribute to the costs of hospitalization and also to finance the center itself, the remuneration of the staff, the maintenance of the premises, hospitality expenses, and medication.

Cambodia: Visits of Brothers

Europe | Assistance to refugees

From the beginning, the Taizé Community has always been attentive to refugees. During the Second World War, Brother Roger had hidden a number of them in his house at Taizé. Later on families were welcomed, from places like Vietnam, Laos, Bosnia and Rwanda. In recent years, the community has welcomed families from Iraq and Syria, as well as groups of young migrants from Calais.

In 2016, young asylum-seekers from Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Syria and Afghanistan stayed in Taizé. This welcome was made possible thanks to the collaboration of many volunteers from the region and financial support from Operation Hope. The community seeks to help these young people become self-reliant once they have been granted refugee status.

Operation Hope also supports initiatives to assist refugees, led by associations working in the region around Taizé.

Laos | A sewing workshop

During 2020 and 2021, Operation Hope is supporting a project of the Nazareth Home in Vientiane, Laos. The initiative for this project came from a community of Laotian sisters who wanted to give a future to young girls from poor families, including ethnic minorities. In Laos, sewing remains a field that opens up job opportunities. Since 2017, these sisters have developed a sewing course. The young people are fully supported by the Nazareth Centre. The training lasts nine months, after which they can find a job in the city or return to their village and practise their trade there. Because of the pandemic, some young people who had found work in Thailand had to return to Laos. They have nothing, neither work nor training, which places additional demands on their families.

Burkina Faso | Participation in several projects

Burkina Faso is situated in the Sahel where the dry season lasts nine months without interruption. The population uses open wells that often dry up and the women are forced to use unhealthy water collected in artificial ponds during the rainy season. Sometimes they have to go as far as ten kilometres in order to find water and the rare wells that do exist become a source of conflict because of the scarcity of water and the long time they have to wait. Operation Hope supports the drilling of wells and the installation of pumps. These wells are an essential source of water supply for the people and for the prevention of sickness.

In 2010, Operation Hope also supported a project to provide milk for children at the hospital of Nanoro, also in Burkina-Faso.

In 2021, Operation Hope supported a project to create an agro-pastoral farm in Koubri (breeding pigs and laying hens) as well as an agricultural production field (papayas, citrus fruits and potatoes). This project aims to act on several levels: combating poverty, promoting modern agricultural and livestock techniques, creating jobs for young people and ensuring food self-sufficiency. The project is led by three young agricultural engineers, Father Noël (from the Saint Vincent de Paul religious order in West Africa), with the support of the mayor of Koubri.

Middle East | Different initiatives

Operation Hope has recently supported several initiatives in this region:

- The crises facing Lebanon, including economic decline, Covid-19, and the impact of the devastating explosion in Beirut on 4 August 2020, have brought stress and trauma to children. The closure of schools due to Covid-19 and the damage caused by the blast have resulted in a sharp decline in the quality of education. In Beirut, through the Adyan Foundation (a Lebanese organisation founded by Christian and Muslim members), Operation Hope helped to support children with disabilities whose homes, schools and education had been badly affected by the blast. The abrupt shift to online school learning meant that these children needed tools to access online education. The "Blessed School", which usually caters for children with disabilities, was severely damaged by the Beirut explosion. The children of this school were happy to receive a wonderful personal gift for Christmas, and the school was able to purchase teaching materials suitable for online education and thus enable the children to continue their studies to the full.

- In Syria, in Aleppo, the Franciscan community distributes food parcels and emergency aid to displaced persons. It also works to set up drinking water networks and to distribute fuel oil for generators and heating. This community also assists people with their health needs, taking care of part of the costs. Finally, the brothers ensure the education of children and young people, trying to offer spaces for activities and studies.

- In Iraq, at Erbil, aid is given to the Syriac Orthodox Jacobite community, from which one of the Iraqi families settled at Taizé comes. When the Christian villages on the Nineveh plain were liberated by the Iraqi army, the Christians found that their churches had been devastated by ISIS. The money collected is used to support those displaced in Erbil who cannot return to the destroyed villages and to the cleaning and reconstruction of places of worship.

Holidays for Ukrainian children

Thanks to Operation Hope, during the summers of 2015 and 2016 a group of children from eastern Ukraine was welcomed in Taizé for a few weeks. Their families fled the Donbass at war and have since been living in Kiev. For these children, aged 7 to 14 years, the time spent in Taizé was a moment of joy and peace after the difficult months of the war. Their joyful presence on the hill also helped to express solidarity with those who suffer from war at the gates of Europe.

Congo | Support for an eye clinic

Dr. Richard Hardi has been living and working in the Democratic Republic of Congo for twenty years as an ophthalmologist. He is a committed member of the Community of the Beatitudes. He practices in Mbuji Mayi, the capital of East Kasai province, but he makes regular medical missions in remote areas.

In much of the country, he is virtually the only ophthalmologist who operates on children and difficult cases. He performs over 2,500 operations each year.

Since 2015, Operation Hope supports the construction of an eye clinic undertaken by Dr. Hardi for which the region has a great need.

Haiti | Supporting Disadvantaged Children

In October 2014, Brother Alois and other brothers led stages of the pilgrimage of trust in four Caribbean countries in Central America. In Haiti, they visited a community of sisters from Cité-Soleil in Port-au-Prince and since then, Operation Hope regularly sends financial assistance to support their work with disadvantaged children.

North Korea | Humanitarian aid

In 2016, the Community invited two doctors from the Hospital of the Red Cross of North Korea to do a refresher course in France. These doctors spent three months in Paris and the costs of their stay were borne entirely by Operation Hope. Between 2007 and 2011, six other doctors had also done a one-year internship in France.

The first humanitarian deliveries to this country were made in 1998 and 1999. More than one thousand tons of maize flour were sent for the population who were suffering after several years of drought and flooding.

Since then, every year it has been possible to make a gesture of solidarity. Milk and feeding bottles for newborn babies, medical equipment and basic medication, were collected during the European meeting in Berlin at the end of 2011. Dozens of packs of medication, hundreds of stethoscopes, thermometers, bandages, gauze, syringes and different medical supplies as well as several large boxes of surgical devices and two sterilisers were sent. Operation Hope added two new oxygen concentrators. This support continued the following years with the sending of medical devices and medication. The North Korean Red Cross takes care of the distribution to hospitals and rural clinics.

A brother of the Community, originally from South Korea, has visited North Korea several times. He has sometimes accompanied the delivery of foodstuffs.

Nepal | Support for people after the earthquakes in 2015

After successive earthquakes in Nepal in April and May 2015, Operation Hope has supported the work of a German NGO, Freundeskreis Nepalhilfe e.V. (FNH). All the money sent was used to purchase corrugated roofs for the construction of temporary housing. It was very urgent, since the “monsun” was expected shortly after the tremors. These roofs can be integrated in the future construction of more durable homes. Operation Hope has helped 200 families to relocate.

Someone who returned from a visit to this country writes: “There are still a lot of mountains of debris, and you sometimes see people sitting on the debris. As often, the quake mainly affected the poor, who lived in very simple shacks. Currently some were able to find a place in emergency housing, which sometimes turn out better than their former homes and could become a long-term solution.”

Cuba | Collection of medicines

In October 2014, Brother Alois went to Cuba, with a few brothers during a stage of the “Pilgrimage of Trust” in the Caribbean. Prayers were held at Havana and Matanzas. On returning , Brother Alois told young people gathered in Taizé: “Cubans, especially the young, are desperate to leave their isolation, they need to feel close to young people in other countries, and they urged us to greet you all from them. For them, becoming salt of the earth means taking an option of hope.” In March 2015, a brother went back to this country to deepen ties. He saw that there was a defiency of many goods, especially medicines. A group of Christians runs a medical support network for disadvantaged populations, with small health centres in different parts of the country. Through Operation Hope, the Community decided to organise a collection of medicines which were sent to this group in Cuba: diclofenac (anti-inflammatory), doxycycline (antibiotic), aspirins, vitamins, glucosamine, amoxycilline, furosemide, cephalexin, dexchlorpheniramine (antihistamine), ibuprofene.

China | One million Bibles printed

At the European meeting which brought together 40,000 young people in Brussels at the end of 2008, Brother Alois announced that, to respond to the needs of the Christians of China, the Taizé Community was going to have printed one million Bibles in China—200,000 complete Bibles and 800,000 New Testaments with Psalms. The printing was done in Nanjing, and from there the books were delivered across the country in successive stages throughout 2009.

In 2009, the Taizé Community is also supporting the biblical work of the Protestant Church in China. This support was continued throughout 2010 and 2011.

South Sudan | After the civil war

In a village 25 km. south of Rumbek, some fifty families of lepers live; they have come from the entire Great Lakes region. Although medical treatment heals the disease and removes all danger of contagion, the loss of limbs sometimes remains a great handicap. The social stigma continues to affect them. The lepers cannot stay in their place of origin. Their children, even if they themselves have not been touched by the disease, are not welcome in school. The courage and hope of these families who have started a new life from scratch in great isolation and precariousness are remarkable. Operation Hope is helping build a building for the primary classes, so that the children can continue to study even during the rainy season.

The civil war, the fees demanded and the lack of schools have kept many young people from continuing their schooling; helping them to develop their full potential is a priority. Setting up the Youth Opportunity Center wants to give a strong signal in favor of this commitment. On land occupied by the resources of an NGO during the civil war, the Church wants to develop a place of welcome, activities and formation open to young people of all backgrounds. Operation Hope is contributing to building a multipurpose room to replace the leaking tent.

See also:
In South Sudan, summer 2013

Greece | An initiative for French-speaking migrants on Lesbos

At the request of the leaders of the Catholic parish of the Assumption of Mary on the island of Lesbos, 50 Bibles and 80 copies of the New Testament were sent. One of the leaders writes: "The Bibles arrived 10 days ago and we were able to give them to those who had asked for them. Some were given to people living in the refugee camp, others to vulnerable people who were housed in the village of Thermi. (...) I understand that there may be some concerns about proselytizing, so please be aware that the Bibles are only given to those who ask for them. We don’t offer to give them Bibles ourselves. And many people continue to ask us, the vast majority of whom are baptized Christians from West Africa.

Myanmar | Support for the most disadvantaged people

Since the spring of 2021, Operation Hope has been supporting the Church in Myanmar in its work for the most disadvantaged people following the military coup and in the context of the pandemic. Here is an account of the current situation and the initiatives supported

"In February 2021, Myanmar was plunged into crisis when the generals of the Myanmar military staged a coup d’état, ousted the democratically elected government and incarcerated its leaders. This shocking event was followed by peaceful protests of millions of people across Myanmar who had begun to embrace a fragile democracy and refuse to return to the darkness of military rule.

The military’s response to the nationwide non-violent marches and strikes has been brutal. In the last five months, the army has indiscriminately killed over 800 people and detained thousands more. Medics, humanitarian workers and those who criticise the regime are arrested and savagely beaten. Some of those detained have not been seen or heard from since. Soldiers patrol city streets, destroying property, looting, and burning.

Sister Ann Rose asks the armed forcs not to harm the demonstrators at Myitkyina.

Myanmar is heading into deeper conflict and the stage is set for a devastating civil war. There is rapid growth of local militia groups, and intense fighting in many areas.
Villages are bombed and burnt, and thousands are fleeing into the mountains and jungles, or to seek refuge in monasteries and church compounds. But even these sanctuaries are targets.

Already the coup has brought great suffering, and Myanmar is facing economic collapse and a severe humanitarian crisis. The public health system has completely collapsed; COVID testing, and prevention is abandoned. Unemployment is huge and there is widespread hunger.

The Church in Myanmar is on the frontlines of this emergency, working to relieve suffering among the most vulnerable. Our teams on the ground are working tirelessly to distribute food and medicines, give shelter to those who seek safe refuge, comfort those who grieve, and keep the light of hope alive.

Educational activities for children from displaced families

Acts of solidarity include distributing food parcels to thousands of families in some of the poorest communities, building simple houses for people displaced by conflict, or giving support to young people and helping them to continue education despite the closure of schools.

The Myanmar people must still wait and hope for a future free from fear, and they are crying out for help."