Brazil - The Community’s Family

At the end of July 2010 three LSA arrived at Alto do Moura, a semi-rural area of Caruaru, a city in the State of Pernambuco.

One evening we were praying in a family with a group of neighbours – here we call this a family prayer group, where we read the Word of God and pray in the light of this Word. On that occasion five children appeared: two girls and three boys; the oldest was eleven. When they were invited to come in they crowded together at the door of the house, but didn’t leave. 
 
At the final prayer, the Our Father, they came closer and we joined hands and prayed together. 
 
A woman from the group told me afterwards that these five children were on their own with their father. The mother had left them when the eldest was seven years old and the youngest a year and eleven months. Was she ill, depressed? 
 
The father then married a woman a little older than he was. They lived together for four years. At the beginning of July 2010 they separated because of the ill-treatment inflicted on the children. The eldest girl, eleven years old, had gone to complain to the authorities and the separation resulted from that. 
 
The following day I went to find out where these children lived. 
I discovered the house upside down and the children frightened, upset. They live in our street, quite near our community. I began to visit this family and I learned that two neighbours were already helping these children. These women told me about recent events. 
 
I continued to visit this family. The father, who is semi-literate, works with scrap iron. He leaves the house early in the morning and returns in the evening. The children, aged 6, 7, 8 10 and 11 years, don’t have the presence of an adult in the house. I began to see the consequences of these losses, first of the mother and then of the stepmother. Absenteeism from school, never completing a full year, difficulties in learning to read, a lot of time spent on the streets (mainly on the part of the boys). The youngest has a speech problem. I accompanied them to the doctor, speech and hearing specialists, dentist etc. Our community was gradually taking responsibility for this family. We, the sisters and Edijane the postulant, began to supervise the children’s schoolwork.
 
In June 2012 the father had an accident and was hospitalised for four months; a neighbour took in the five children. With the accident, the family allowance was suspended until the paperwork was done, in line with the legislation in Brazil. The Christian community, with the sisters and some persons who were close, saw to their upkeep during the time they were with the neighbours: two dressmakers who struggle to make a living. Finally, after six months, the father returned home, with a brace on his leg as he had had serious fractures as well as losing a toe and fracturing three fingers of his hand. 
 
For three years our community – now three sisters and Edijane the postulant – has continued to accompany this family: ’it is the community’s family’. 
 
We participate in the sorrows and joys of the family and each of us gives attention and care in line with the needs of each of its members. 
 
This family is part of our community, we are present with them in sorrow, in joy and in celebration. 
 
This reminds us of what Father Pernet used to say: ’The aim of her mission is to extend the Reign of Our Lord by working for the regeneration of the working-class family.’ (3 July 1885) 
 
God asks her to work for the extension of his Reign in the midst of the poor and the working-class family.’ (7 June 1894).
Sister Olga
02/06/2014
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