The idea was in the minds of the White Fathers of the Basilica and in their conversations for months… as they saw the surroundings of the Basilica of Our Lady of Africa, one of the most visited places in Algiers, becoming increasingly dirty. Finally, encouraged by what is being done elsewhere, we launched an appeal inviting citizens to come and clean up for a few hours. The messages went on social networks…. We didn’t know how many people would come… We were a little stressed!
On August 31, at 7:30 am, the first three volunteers arrived from Dely Ibrahim… by bike! Little by little, other people came: as a couple, with family, with friends, with colleagues from work, or on their own… I saw Algerians, Poles, Malians, Burkinabés, Brazilians, French, Ghanaians, Mexicans, Spaniards, and even the police and the city hall services (NetCom), as well as some tourists who were a little surprised. We also had a television journalist… from China!
We gave safety instructions, gloves, garbage bags (partly provided by NetCom) and each was assigned a zone. From time to time someone would scream, “Who wants “freshhh” water? Who wants “freshhh” water? ” Fortunately, because the heat was intense. For two and a half hours we worked in a cheerful mood, making new friends, sweating, but above all with the pride of helping to restore the beauty of the place!
A whistle blew to end the work. Everyone gathered so that we could tell them: “Thank you for coming to restore the beauty of this place. The fact that most of you are Muslims who have come to take care of a Christian church is also a beautiful act. God created nature so beautiful, so we as believers must keep it that way. Thank you for coming! ». We took a few pictures in front of “the fruit of our sweat”: while being quite surprised that only two hours allowed us to collect so much waste!
We had ordered delicious cakes (sweet and savoury) and arranged everything necessary to offer tea or coffee to the 70 people and more who stayed until the end. It allowed us to regain our strength and make new friends. For some people it was the first time they came to the basilica and a “guided” tour ended the morning.
We are very grateful to all those who made this day possible. The ideal would be for us not to have to make an appeal again to clean the domain…. But if it were the case, now we know that we can count on the many friends of the Basilica.
Peter-Claver KOGH and José M. CANTAL
White Fathers at the Basilica