Each year, January 7th is a very important Islamic holy day, the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed. The Moslem Community in Morondava – merchants, planters and small industrialists – wanted to do something important and they chose our Rehabilitation Center known as “The Beautiful Gate.”
At four o'clock in the afternoon, a motorcade arrived with civil authorities, police, video cameras and some thirty men, all fervent leaders of the Islamic Community. In a speech, their leader explained their faith in Mohammed and their joy for this holy day, which was the real reason that they wanted to help the project for the handicapped.
I thanked them and explained that there was no discrimination at the Center, whose goals are for a total and complete rehabilitation of all forms of the physically and mentally handicapped. In Goujherrati, one of the Center's young men thanked the Islamic Community in the name of all the children.
THEN ... they started to unload a pick-up truck: 1,100 pounds of rice, 550 pounds of com, 110 pounds of sugar, 100 yards of cloth, a carton of condensed milk, cookies, candy, soap, bread, candles...
The local population, aware of what we are trying to do, has often come to our support, but never approaching this in nature or size! We were left speechless but not tearless ... even more so when one of the Moslem families offered to give the Center 220 pounds of rice each month for as long as the center would provide services for the handicapped.
This simple ceremony brought home to me just how far we have come in such a short time. Without realizing it or seeking it, our Beautiful Gate Rehabilitation Center has been a first step in Moslem-Christian dialogue.
Who says that the Spirit has fallen sleep? Who says that we are overwhelmed with responsibility, anguish, evil or indifference? We now speak with hope about groups that we would most assuredly have thought would be irreconcilable. Who says that hope has been drained from our world? Our hope springs eternal!