05 Oct “BUILDING THE FUTURE WITH MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES” DAY
Since in the GC XX we made a firm commitment to get involved with people in the situation of human migration: migrants, refugees, victims of trafficking… every year our commitment in the different countries and frontiers has been growing. For this reason, when the World Day of Migrants and Refugees comes, we celebrate it with great joy, and it helps us to renew our commitment and to thank the Lord for this opportunity to walk with His chosen ones.
This year the Day celebrated on the 25th of September invited us to “Build the future with Migrants and Refugees”, and echoing the initiative of GC XXI, adding “through active HOPE”.
We now share some of the plans and celebrations:
Well organized into a Project, it was celebrated in the School of Bogotá during all of September, “Migrants and Refugees Month”. Support for displaced families for the recognition of their territory, raising awareness among the students, teachers and families, networking with the Scalabrini priests, assisting Venezuelan families who are especially vulnerable… and in everything the joy of feeling that we are brothers and sisters of migrants and refugees.
You can see it all in this VIDEO
In India they focused more on promoting a Day of Prayer in union with the Episcopal Conference’s Commission of Migrants. See the VIDEO
The Sisters in Paris share their experience and hope: To celebrate the Day of Migrants and Refugees we wanted to meet in Paris with the four women that we accompany. The idea was to offer them a space so that they could meet one another and share at the table with a merienda that we had lovingly prepared. Finally at the last minute, one of these women had to take her sick two year old child to the hospital. Another had to be admitted to the hospital because she was about to give birth. A third lives very far from Paris and was not able to come, but we were able to communicate with her via WhatsApp. With all of this, in the end, only one came – X with her companion and her three small children who enjoyed the space for running and playing. At the end of the afternoon, they went away very happy and grateful. In spite of all the unforeseen circumstances, I can say that I ended the day very content and full of gratitude, seeing the joy of this family, especially the children who had such a good time. I realized how little it takes for us to make others happy.
From the infirmary Community of Pirineos in Madrid they sent us some photos and a video about the day of prayer, followed by a celebration with a theatrical presentation, building a future full of hope with a group of our immigrant brothers and sisters.
From Argentina they report: “In one of the schools we did a project HISTORIAS QUE DEJAN HUELLA. (Histories that leave a mark.) During 4 encounters the migrants/refugees shared their life stories with us, the students in the 4th year of high school. The objective was to make visible the tragedy of forced migration, to break down prejudices, and to generate empathy. Yesterday it finished with the creation of a mural. There were testimonies from two refugees, one a Syrian and the other an Armenian, and from two migrants, a Colombian boy and a Paraguayan girl. It was beautiful”.
The community of Tierra Amarilla in Chile tells us about what they have been experiencing, a great fiesta and opportunity around the celebration of this day, and how “building a future with migrants and refugees” challenges them.
“A team of 16 persons from 6 nationalities was convoked, the reason, to dream together how we wanted to celebrate this great feast which Pope Francis was convoking us to under the motto “Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees.” Several suggestions were made; among these was a proposal that they themselves be agents of motivation for other migrant brothers and sisters, refugees who are not linked to the communities of the Parish. This was how we had a second, third, fourth and even fifth meeting. The colourful nthusiasm was getting us into the heart of the invitation. Dream, create, build together. A tremendous challenge…
Those who attended the preparation meetings are not all Catholics, and together we shared the content of the Pope’s message for the day. His words encouraged us, challenged us, motivated us and still continue inspiring us to desire to take part in constructing this FUTURE OF THE NEW JERUSALEM, to be ourselves agents of an active hope in the building of a Kingdom that is begins here and now.
The preparation of the festival allowed us to gather up the fruit of what we already were doing since the Santa Rafaela Maria Welcome House for Migrants, dance workshops that have been very successful and a commitment to meet. One of the workshops was on learning the salsa, and was conducted by a pair of Colombians. There were 12 sessions in 3 months. We felt called to an encounter by means of dances. Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Haiti, Bolivia and Chile dancing the Colombian salsa and the Chilean Cueca.
On Sunday the 25th, from very early, our church in Tierra Amarilla began to be filled with colors. Our brother and sister migrants with their traditional dress and typical food were arriving, and raising the flags, they danced toward the altar. There we began the feast and the celebration around the Table and the Word. We prayed from the text of John which narrates the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman, the Word that invited us to see the gesture that Jesus made toward the woman, a gesture that took away her desolation and the punishment that she carried on her shoulders because of her situation as a foreigner. The gesture of Jesus made her feel recognized, welcomed with all of her history… it transformed her life and returned to her the dignity of recognizing that she was a favored daughter of God. It challenged all of us Chileans to let ourselves be converted by the Lord, to tear down borders which divide us. It invites and challenges us to take concrete steps toward friendship, steps that will allow us to topple the prejudices that separate us, especially today, with all the persons who, seeking new opportunities, come to our country dreaming of something better for themselves and their families, and that hope to participate, to be recognized, considered, included in the building of a different reality. Foreigners and Chileans forming part of one community, we challenge ourselves to be persons of fraternal gestures, to be persons of concrete gestures of inclusion, of recognition, and gratitude for the presence of our immigrant brothers in our land. Together we want to build the new Jerusalem together, to topple walls, prejudices and set out on the road. The effort is mutual.
Among thanksgiving, blessings and applauses for our migrant brothers and sisters we passed to the hall to continue the celebration sharing dances and typical dishes, a potluck supper for all, and the feast continued…”