Argentina – Concordia : SOLIDARITY OVERCOMES BORDERS

For the past seven years we in the community of Concordia, Argentina, have been accompanying a youth missionary group ’Seeds of the Kingdom’. 
Every year, during January, we participate, alongside some Dehonian priests (Sacred Heart fathers) and young people from various provinces of the country, in a mission in some very poor places that are far from the big cities. This year, six girls from the group went to a very poor village in the Province of Córdoba. 
 
The experience is always very enriching through this close contact with young people from other places and, above all, the encounter with persons who are living in different social, cultural, financial and religious situations. 
 
In March, when we resumed the activities of the missionary group, we were joined by two boys and a girl. So, the group was reinforced. 
We planned the meetings: special times for prayer, formation and some activities in our neighbourhood. 
 
The desire was expressed to visit the families in a Project of sixty-four low-cost homes situated at some 600 metres from our house. They are families in need who come from various parts of the city; they had arrived in December last year. 
 
We had a double aim: to approach each family so that they would feel welcome in the new neighbourhood, to tell them about the activities of the Chapel that is at a distance of two blocks from this place and, above all, to try to reduce the discriminatory language used by some people, including some of the Christian community, who were looking at the ’newcomers’ with mistrust and adopting an attitude of rejection. 
 
We arranged the visit so as to give them the invitation to the activities of Holy Week and Easter. 
We were very well received and were able to get to know one another and share in what each family was experiencing: their insecurity in feeling new there, not even knowing the names of the streets. The visit also enabled us to discover some difficult questions, above all with regard to health. 
Finally, when we evaluated the situation, we decided to support a woman aged 32 who was living along with a son aged 12 and her little daughter Avril who had her eighth birthday at that time. From birth Avril suffered from a complex neurological illness that impeded her walking, her speech and making co-ordinated movement. She could only crawl and needed a wheelchair for posture and a special walking frame. 
The social security covered part of the cost, but the family had to provide an amount of money that was beyond their means. To try to collect it the mother was preparing collection boxes to take to businesses with a photograph of Avril and the special walking frame. 
 
We decided to collaborate and took some boxes, taking advantage particularly of Holy Week when many people participate in the ceremonies; we also organised a raffle. 
One of the young men, who is president of the Student Centre at the Nutrition University, talked with his companions and they decided to have a sale of noodles. There they had special machines that are able to cope with a lot of kilos in a short time. All his companions and even the authorities in the faculty were motivated for it and the sale was a success. The raffle tickets sold very quickly and the money boxes we took to various places were soon full. 
At the end of two weeks we had succeeded in collecting an amount in excess of what we had hoped for. It covered the full cost of the walking frame and part of the cost of the wheelchair. People from various districts and institutions offered their support and in two months Avril had the wheelchair she needs. 
A big achievement is that we had the opportunity to talk with many neighbours and with people from the chapel about the ’new neighbours’, describing our visits and the relations that had been formed. 
 
We were surprised to see that most of the collaboration came mostly from the people with links to the chapel. Perhaps they were moved on seeing the photo of Avril and getting to know all about her suffering. However, as time goes by, we can see that something has changed even though there is still some way to go for people to come closer together. 
It is with joy that we see, once again, that solidarity can by stronger than discrimination. 
 
’When the veil of charity touches the FACE of the poor, 
the face of Jesus is imprinted on it eternally.’ 
(Antoinette Fage) 
 
Ana María – The Concordia community
02/10/2014
Save this article in PDF Imprimer l'article Send this article by mail Send
> Tous les articles remonter Remonter