Last year the Missionary Society distributed grants amounting to some $13 million, which financed more than 2,600 projects: 1,200 in Africa; 1,192 in Asia; 212 in America; 37 in Oceania; and 16 in Europe.
Sister Maria Teresa Crescini, secretary of the pontifical organization, explained that "the children commit themselves to pray and help the children of the world concretely in the name of universal fraternity. They invent activities with which they can fill their money boxes."
In Germany, for example, the "Sternsinger" or "Star Singers" have a long tradition: half a million children and adolescents of the Missionary Society of Holy Childhood take part in the collection of funds by singing carols in the streets and squares.
"Our boys are involved in a project in South Africa for children suffering from AIDS; in Peru, for the feeding of children," the nun explained. "There is also a Sunday school project in Manila for child rubbish-collectors."
"Another project is focused on child-soldiers; we have been involved in it for three years with great energy and determination," she added. "Lastly, we are working on an initiative for a Sunday school for children of the Solomon Islands. So the projects include the five continents."
Children of the Missionary Society of Holy Childhood range in age up to 14 years. The funds they collect are sent to the International Holy Childhood office of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, where there is a common solidarity fund.
The missionary world is already preparing for the Comla7-Cam2 meeting in Guatemala in November 2003, for the seventh Latin American Missionary Congress and the second Missionary Congress of the continent.