Sr Elvira Tutolo, who has been a missionary in the Central African Republic for 18 years, on 5th March was awarded the honorific title of Knight (Commendatore) of the Italian Republic for Merits.
The prestigious award was received by Sr Elvira at the “Quirinale”, together with other 32 people named as Italian “heroes”.
Addressing the guests convened as well as the people awarded with one of the highest titles of Italian Republic, the Italian President Sergio Mattarella, said: “Our country is rich in positive energies, thanks to people who know that we live better if we work for the common good, and strive to overcome abuses and prejudices. Your behaviour expressed such sensitivity and the awards are an indication for our Country that such behaviours should not only be appreciated but should be made known.
You are awarded not as heroes, but as people who faced with common problems did what you thought it was right to do … I thank you for being an example of sensitivity, responsibility and solidarity. And you are not alone, many in Italy are committed to the same values. You, here today, represent all of the people who in our Country have such nice and positive behaviour. Our Country has plenty of positive energies, is rich in humanity and has a strong sense of community ».
The award was given to Sr Elvira for her great commitment towards the child-soldiers recruited by armed gangs in Central Africa, many of whom were orphans, had been abandoned, or were considered sorcerers by their families and therefore had been sent away from home.
Sr Elvira, together with the Sisters of the mission succeeded in giving a new childhood to these children and boys entrusting them to the care of local families, by the creation of the NGO “Kizito” founded more than 10 years ago, and the “Watoro Centre” in the outskirts of Berberati, where the youngsters are taught a profession as carpenters or farmers.
The mission of the Sisters of Charity, in Berberati, is now also open to very young girls victims of violence and abuses, who had been taken by armed gangs. At the “Nemesia’s Centre” the girls learn the art of sewing.
We are thankful to the Lord for these fruits and we do hope that such good work, nourished by the Charism of Saint Jeanne Antide and by the intercession of the Saints of our Congregation, may bring more fruits for the good of many suffering and needy brothers and sisters.