The growing forest

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children in INDONESIA

progetto indonesia

This year we are trying to build a school and to start a plantation, a catalyst of change in a morally deprived area of Sumatra, Indonesia.

Will you help us do it?

The first orphanage

Bandar Baru, Sumatra, Indonesia. The seed of our project can be found here. The land is fertile, but it belongs to the rich, while poor people survive cultivating small fields. The sickness of a parent is enough to destroy a family. There’s no health insurance or social security. Here in 1971 Friar Ferdinando planted a seed: the first home for orphaned or abandoned children.

The Bethlehem orphanage

Today the “Bethlehem orphanage”, built in 1992 with funds from St. Anthony’s Charities, is the home of about a hundred children from 4 to 17 years old. Here everyone studies and works. They usually wake up at 5 in the morning, pray at 6, have breakfast and attend school from 7.30 am to 2 pm. After lunch, everybody cleans the house, feeds the animals and works in the garden. At 6 pm there are vespers and the rosary. Dinner is at 6.30, then they study and at 9.30 they go to sleep.
It may seem a very hard schedule for these kids. But Fr. Thomas explains: " Drug abuse is common and almost 50 percent of children of primary school age have a gambling addiction. It is a real educational emergency, even more serious than drug addiction”. So you can feel the harmony that reigns at Bethlehem’s. Everyone is pleased to do their part. They are a real family.

Hope for the kids

What would you like to do when you grow up? ‘I want to be a footballer’ said one 9-year-old boy, ‘a teacher’ replied a 17-year-old girl, others said ‘a monk,’ ‘a hair-stylist’ and the list goes on. Each has his hopes and dreams like kids everywhere else in the world, and you feel that you just cannot disappoint them. Each one has his part to play in the great game of life.
"When they turn 18, they can no longer stay here,” says Thomas. “We must do something, otherwise all our efforts will be in vain. Outside the Bethlehem orphanage there are only palm oil plantations and all these kids are destined to be farm-laborers. But a farm-laborer earns 5 € a day for 12 hours of work. A future without hope and dreams.

Future fruits

Two hours’ drive from Bandar Baru, in the town of Tiga Juhar, there’s almost nothing but forest. Children live in a state of abandonment while their parents work in the plantations until evening. Despite this hard situation, the friars are spiritually investing on this area, and would like to build a school and to start a plantation of 20 acres.
They could start planting palm oil and the plantation would be immediately profitable. But the friars want to invest spiritually on change, since palm oil causes great pollution. This is the reason why they chose salak, a fruit palm. The project is directed by the nation’s agronomists with the aim of introducing sustainable plantations. "You can’t always wait" - says Fr. Thomas "We need to believe in a dream"

VIDEO of the project

THE STORIES behind the project



Friar Thomas

in search of a father

Immanuel is now a married man and living in an island near Singapore. He was 13 when he came to the orphanage. He claimed to be orphaned of both his parents. This was not true, and his tragic story soon surfaced: his mother was a prostitute; his father was not his real father; his grandmother brought him up, but was too tired in the end and so she sent him to his aunty, who then turned him out of doors because she had too many mouths to feed. If Immanuel knows how to hug his child it is because he was hugged here, in this orphanage.

The project IN BRIEF


the construction of a building for a junior and senior high school


20 hectares of salak plantation


Tiga Juhar, in the province of North Sumatra




100 boys from the friars’ orphanage at Bandar Baru


children and boys from Tiga Juhar and surrounds


Beginning of June 2015


estimated end by 2016

4 big AIMS

To offer a job to boys who must leave the Bethlehem orphanage because they have reached a certain age. The orphanage was built by the friars in Bandar Baru in 1992 thanks to our readers and donations to St. Anthony’s Charities.
To offer a junior and senior high school along with complete care and hospitality to children and boys of Tiga Juhar, a heavily deprived area where small children experience grave neglect.
To start a plantation of salak, a fruit plant. This is a pilot project which aims to find a more eco-friendly solution to palm oil, an intensive monoculture which is devastating vast areas of Indonesia.
To enhance the spiritual significance of the presence of the friars, in the area in order to salvage inter-religious dialogue in a nation that has always been tolerant, but which has lately been subject to infiltration by fundamentalist elements.

WHO we are

We realize about 150 projects per year and manage to reach, on average, about 1 million beneficiaries by enhancing basic services: education, health, access to water and vocational training.

St. Anthony’s Charities is the non-profit organisation through which the friars of the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua promote projects of charity, solidarity and development throughout the world.
“To be there where all hope is gone”: this is our mission. We want to reach the “poorest of the poor” by promoting projects that are tailor made for the local communities, and which are requested specifically by the communities themselves, with a strategy aimed at development rather than simple assistance.
Health, education, access to water, promotion of the rights and dignity of people are at the centre of our efforts, even if our work also extends into many other fields. We try to help the young especially (children, teenagers and students) by building a better future for them, their families and their own country.


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The Messenger of St. Anthony
P.O.Box 200
Marden, S.A. 5070
Tel: 1800 080 200 Fax: (08) 8337 1171

Saint Anthony of Padua Mission Aid
1320 Leslie St. Suite 100
Toronto, ON M3C 2K9
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Messenger of St. Anthony
Basilica del Santo – via Orto Botanico, 11,
I-35123 Padua, Italy
Tel. +39 049 822 5000 - Fax +39 049 822 5650

Assisi Shanthi Kendra
Conventual Franciscan Friars
Karukutty 683 576 - Ernakulam Dt.
Kerala – India

Messenger of St. Anthony
c/o His Eminence Anthony Cardinal Okogie,
Archbishop of Lagos - P.O. Box 8 - Lagos

Anthonian Association
101 St. Anthony Drive,
Mount St. Francis, IN 47146
Tel: (812) 923-6356 Fax: (812) 923-3200

Messenger of St. Anthony
Basilica del Santo – via Orto Botanico, 11,
I-35123 Padua, Italy
Tel. +39 049 822 5000
Fax +39 049 822 5650

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P.P.F.M.C. Caritas S.Antonio ONLUS
Basilica del Santo
Via Orto Botanico 11 - 35123 Padova (Italy)
Banca Popolare Etica
IBAN: IT05 S 05018 12101 00000 05050 20
Piazza Insurrezione, 10 - 35139 Padova (Italy)

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