Greek Priest from California Helps African Village

Simon Thomas (left with his family), 34, is one of two ordained priests produced in recent years by Modesto’s Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. For 3½ years, he’s been head priest at Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, leading 175 families, about half the size of Modesto’s congregation.

In February, a local opera star’s performance pulled in $75,000 for the Tanzanian mission, enough to build the church that will be nearly finished when Father Simon visits in late January. It’s in Kazinga, a rural village where the next goal is to dig a well with clean drinking water.

Tanzania’s violent neighbors, Uganda and Rwanda, were depicted in the movies “The Last King of Scotland” and “Hotel Rwanda.” Another nearby country, Kenya, came to the brink of civil war two years ago. Tanzania, home to the famed Mount Kilimanjaro, is far more stable, though life expectancy hovers around 50 years and the average yearly income is about $1,100.

“To build a building is beyond their financial means,” Simon Thomas said. “To support a building is within their means. We’re building infrastructure they can use to build themselves up, instead of throwing money at them.”

Thomas’ group will bring medical supplies and doctors, a reminder of a dream long past.

(Source: Modesto Bee )