Grégoire Ahongbonon. They Are Living in Chains: My Quest to Liberate Africa’s “Untouchables.” Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2022. Paperback $18.95. eBook $9.99. 192 pages. Available from the publisher.
In his shocking memoir, They Are Living in Chains: My Quest to Liberate Africa’s “Untouchables,” Grégoire Ahongbonon—humanitarian award winner and founder of the St. Camille Association—elucidates the plight of the ‘unclean’ in West Africa and the miracles that save them. Now a mental-health-care activist, Ahongbonon shares the love of Christ with the suffering and testifies about God’s love.
The St. Camille Association helps people in West Africa who suffer from mental illness and seeks to end the inhumane local practice of keeping them in chains. Ahongbonon, who reflects God’s compassion for outcasts, has won several awards for his efforts, including the Dr. Guislain Award and the Geneva Prize for Human Rights in Psychiatry.
“Ahongbonon and his staff find homeless people, thrown out on to the street by their families, and give them a home,” BBC News correspondent Laeila Adjovi wrote. “They also travel across West Africa on alert for reports of mentally ill people shackled or mistreated in remote villages. When they find such people they offer to take them in.”
Ahongbon shared his inspiration for this outreach ministry: “In the midst of the contempt of us ‘healthy people,’ they [the ‘lunatics’] sleep poorly on the streets, are always on the lookout, and don’t feel safe anywhere. Even someone who is completely healthy would develop mental illnesses in these conditions. In thinking about this, I started imagining an ‘asylum’—a place that would belong to them where they could feel good.”
Through the many twists and turns of Ahongbonon’s journeys and adventures you will discover numerous spiritual lessons such as:
- Ways to avoid the lure of the world and rebuild your prayer life
- What to do when tragedy strikes and you’ve hit rock bottom
- How to discover the faith of a child again to inherit the Kingdom
- Why we should be docile and have loving confidence in God
- How placing all things in God’s hands allows miracles to happen
- How showing compassion and restoring a sense of purpose are healing
The wisdom found in these pages will bless and inspire readers of all ages and vocations to care for the suffering and forgotten in our world. Whether you are a student, a teacher, or simply striving to grow in holiness, this powerful book will help open your heart to the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that you may be empowered to help share God’s merciful love in the world.
Members of the media may send an email to Sophia Institute Press’ Director of Publicity, Sarah Lemieux at slemieux@SophiaInstitute.com to receive a physical or digital copy of They Are Living in Chains, and/or to schedule an interview.