The diocese of Ifakara is still very young, having been established only recently in 2012. The episcopal see is situated in the town of the same name, which lies roughly 250 miles (400 km) southwest of the capital Dar es Salaam. The diocese covers an area of 15,000 km² and has 21 parishes. Roughly 80% of its 400,000 or so inhabitants are Catholics. Most of the population are peasant farmers, but there has also been some immigration by nomadic groups.
The distances are considerable, and the roads very poor. In the rainy season they often deteriorate into muddy tracks, in many cases with large rain-filled ruts and potholes. Driving can be very dangerous without a suitable vehicle.
Bishop Salutaris Libena often has to travel long journeys, visiting the parishes of his diocese and administering the sacrament of Confirmation, for example, or simply undertaking pastoral visits. The most distant parish is around 130 miles (210 km) from the centre of the diocese. And there are also meetings and other events in the capital and in other neighbouring dioceses of this large country of around 370,000 square miles (950,000 km²), as for example when the episcopal conference of the country has its meetings. Until recently it was a major problem that he only had an old and unsuitable car, already second-hand when it was purchased 20 years ago and no longer able to cope with the difficult road conditions. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we have now been able to provide him with 29,680 Euros for a suitable and sturdy all-terrain vehicle. It will serve him well, and not only him but also many of his fellow priests and diocesan staff.
Bishop Libena writes: „We want to express our heartfelt thanks to you for this beautiful new vehicle. We promise you that we will treat it with respect, so that it can be used for many years to come in our pastoral service. And we also promise to pray for all those whose personal sacrifices have made it possible for us to obtain this vehicle.“