Heart And Soul - The Right Thing [world Service]


01The Right Thing: Life Or Death In The Drc20180126

The difficult choice of saving 32 widows and orphans or evacuating 112 Tutsi survivors

Sasha Chanoff is a humanitarian worker descended from Jewish great-grandparents who fled the early 20th Century pogroms in Russia and settled in the United States. The story of his courageous and resourceful great-grandmother inspired Sasha to work with refugees in war-torn parts of Africa. And it was there, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, that he faced a life-or-death choice.

Then, in his mid-20s, Sasha was part of a small rescue team deployed to evacuate 112 Tutsi survivors of a massacre. Strictly no more, as the International Organisation for Migration feared that taking anyone extra would jeopardise the entire mission. But then Sasha and his Muslim colleague Sheikha Ali found 32 widows and orphans who were not part of the quota, all close to death. They knew that these women and children were almost certain to perish if they left them behind – but disobeying instructions and taking them would endanger everyone else on the last evacuation flight.

Mike Wooldridge hears what happened next from Sasha himself, two of his colleagues, and survivors of that hazardous mission.

(Photo: Sasha Chanoff stands next to a hired armed guard in the safe compound outside Kinshasa, courtesy of Sasha Chanoff)

02The Right Thing: Bringing Peace In South Sudan20180202

Daniel Deng Abot gave up a life in Australia to bring peace to war torn South Sudan

Daniel Deng Abot was one of Southern Sudan’s ‘Lost Boys’ – one of around 20,000 boys displaced or orphaned during Sudan’s civil war. After spending 15 years in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, often in miserable conditions, he and his young family were finally able to resettle in Australia. They were looking forward to a quieter and more settled life – yet Daniel, by then an Anglican priest, soon developed a strong sense that God was calling him to return to newly independent South Sudan.

The situation he was facing in South Sudan was another civil war. Daniel felt strongly that it was ‘the right thing’ for him to bring peace and spiritual support to both sides. The decision was tough on his wife Rachel and their seven children, who have remained in Australia; but, says Daniel, “when you have a family that believes in God, you can sacrifice for God’s sake.?

Now an unpaid bishop, Daniel often works in highly dangerous circumstances. Both he and his wife admit that the price has been too high; yet he remains convinced that God has called him to bring peace to his people, both in South Sudan and Northern Uganda, where many live in refugee settlements.

(Photo: Bishop Daniel Deng Abot visits a refugee settlement in northern Uganda, courtesy of Bishop D Abot)

03The Right Thing: Breaking Faith Boundaries In Syria20180209

The Christian nun who decided to devote her life to helping Muslim brothers and sisters

Carol Cooke Eid grew up a Christian in Lebanon. As a young woman, she felt uneasy about Islam and wanted as little as possible to do with Muslims. Yet when she began to follow a religious path and later became a nun, she found herself making an extraordinary vow: to dedicate her life to her Muslim brothers and sisters. The pledge soon turned into a deeply held love of Islam – but it turned out to be costly; Carol joined Mar Musa, a desert monastery near Damascus within striking distance of Islamic State militants. A monastery which exists to help Christians and Muslims in Syria live together peacefully, almost to the point of breaking traditional faith boundaries.

Mike Wooldridge meets Sister Carol and some of her fellow nuns and monks, currently in exile in Italy. He hears how the monastery’s founder, Fr Paolo dall’Oglio, was abducted in 2013 and still remains unaccounted for; how another priest survived over three months of Islamic State militants captivity; and how the remaining monks and nuns are determined to continue their work, despite the dangers they face.

(Photo: A Muslim man performs his prayers inside the church in the Monastery of St. Moses the Abyssinian, east of Nebek, Syria. Credit: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad/Getty Images)