Saturday 22 June 2013

Nacopa (Mozambique) - Overcoming leprosy

The lepers of Nacopa finally have a new home. With a year and a half of labor the twenty houses in which they live, once in ruin, have been rebuilt by the friends of the Sant'Egidio
A house before
association of Namitoria. 
Today leprosy is completely curable, no longer a medical emergency in Mozambique and many people that were previously sick have managed to reintegrate into society. This does not mean that some of them don’t still suffer many limitations and continue to need assistance and companionship. 
In fact, companionship is what is being experienced for the past ten years by the Namitoria community, a small village in the Angoche district, in northern Mozambique. The community’s members visit the leper colony of Nacopa, which is located nearby, and the forty five guests distribute goods such as food and clothing and organize the annual Christmas lunch.
The friends of Sant'Egidio in the leper colony are mostly senior citizens. They came as children, bringing their sick parents, and once they grew up, since they had nowhere to go, they never left the compound.
However, as the number of sick guests declined, that place was gradually allowed to fall into disrepair. The houses were in terrible conditions, falling apart, and unsafe and without doors or windows. 
One of the new houses
The community understood that the situation needed taking care of, to bring some normality and dignity to the small group of recovering sick guests.
Because the house represents the possibility of a different life, it is the sign that that things are beginning to show a change for the better. The brothers and sisters of the community of Namitoria, helped by the efforts of other people from Sant'Egidio, began renovating the houses and then they handed them over to the elderly with an official declaration a "termo de entrega". 
It was the end of an emergency, the beginning of a possible future, a normal one. An elderly leper, walking into his new home, said" now I can sleep peacefully. Even if it rains, I will not get wet".

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Summer with Children of School of Peace in the Philippines

Summer is Fun at School of Peace – EAT.PLAY.LOVE.PRAY.

Like every year when a summer vacation comes  (April-May) after school year, children in School of Peace together with young people and friends of the community enjoy the days of summer activities. These days marked by friendship and cheerfulness to share and strengthen the company alongside the children and the community. Together in an environment of blissful days every weekend, we spent doing art workshop sessions, play time with children, organizing party, formation and sharing the gospel with the children. 
The joy of summer is something children will truly benefit from making their vacations worth while learning and having fun at School of Peace.
Summer ends in a whole day vacation with children, their parents and young people of the community in a swimming pool on a fun-filled Saturday of June 1st , a friendship that goes beyond our service.

Free Trainings with Youth for Peace

June 9, 2013 l Manila, Philippines

Young people of Sant’Egidio  receives free training of swimming lesson from the Civil Defense Action Group of the Office of the Civil Defense of the Republic of the Philippines. 
This is a good opportunity for young people to be trained not just on swimming but an opening for them to learn new skills and to increase their knowledge on civil defense. Trained by E.L.I.T.E Forces (Expert Leaders of Integrity Task of Elite Fierce Organization of Rescue Command in Emergency and Security , this is just one of the skills that young people of the community may become skilled at which they can use in their future profession or  basically in times of emergency and security needs.   
Added to something that can be very useful for them to increase their morale in the service for other is to learn valuable things at a very young age. Succeeding free trainings on the coming months includes Martial Arts and Military exercises for future rescue operations that can be very useful in times of disasters and natural calamities like typhoons which we used to experienced in the country yearly. 

Monday 3 June 2013

Bujumbura (Burundi) - Collecting medicines and providing medical visits: a web of solidarity for the elderly

Since 2009 the Sant’Egidio Community of Bujumbura has developed a particular friendship with the sixty or so elderly patients that are cared for at the Maison Sainte-Elizabeth, the only rest home in the country. Through simple gestures such as visits, conversations, walks in the city and sharing holiday moments - for example the Christmas lunch - the elderly have found joy and hope for life.
The institute however suffers from a severe shortage in terms of health assistance and availability of medicines. 
For this reason, starting from 2011, the Community made a proposal to various doctors to visit the elderly at no cost. Out of this a web of solidarity was spun that guarantees a weekly medical visit to the guests of the institute. It was then necessary to address the medicine problem. Sant’Egidio asked the town’s pharmacists but also launched a targeted campaign through the social network aimed at sensitizing people. The results were very encouraging and showed that many people desired to help those less fortunate than them: the medicines that were collected this way allowed the opening of a small pharmacy within the institute.
The elderly welcomed with joy these caring gestures by their younger friends. One of them, Bernard, thanked them, saying: “Before you were doctors of the heart, now you are also doctors of the body”.
But the Community entertains bigger dreams. All of the services provided by Sant’Egidio are characterized by a tension that is both utopian and pragmatic. It is pragmatic because the different initiatives confront the immediate necessities of the poor and try to find small-scale and concrete solutions. But it is utopian as well, because every accomplishment feeds the ambition to contribute to unleashing greater energies aimed at doing good. 
There are many other elderly waiting to be treated. In Burundi, basic medical treatment is only guaranteed to children younger than five or pregnant women but not to senior citizens. Since the majority of the elderly lives in conditions of extreme poverty, frequently someone who cannot rely on the help of a son is forced to forego a medical visit or a medicine. In addition, there is a severe problem with hygiene. Most Burundian homes lack running water and when you are unable to access water on your own and do not have someone who can do it for you, you need to save every last drop of water. This impairs hygienic conditions: the elderly are often affected by parasitic diseases and skin ailments.
This is why the Community wants to carry out an educational effort within civil society of which the collection of medicines is only a first step. The goal is to suggest and promote, together with other associations, law proposals specifically aimed at benefiting the elderly, so as to not exclude or penalize an age group that will continue to grow even in Africa.

Huye (Rwanda) - The story of Maurice, from the street to the family home of Sant'Egidio

Last week we talked about Sant'Egidio in Rwanda and the former family home for street kids managed by the Community in Butare. A score of children, supported by the distance adoption programme, have found a haven that has meant warmth and opportunities for the future. Thanks to the affection of the members of the Community these kids have recovered from a difficult childhood and adolescence with hope and dreams for their future.

What I speak about is an exemplary story shared by all, that of Maurice G..

Maurice was born in 1992 in a province in the South of the country. During the genocide of 1994, his family - father, mother and five children - had taken refuge in South Kivu. But the chaos of flight, and the huge crowd, had meant that the family lost contact with Maurice, who was then only two years old. It 's almost a miracle that the baby survived. He returned to Rwanda with a gang of kids in the same situation, at seven, after a short stay with a distant relative. Maurice starts to travel around the different cities of the country, Nyanza, Gitarama, Kigali, Butare, as a street kid, always looking for tricks to survive, always oppressed. And while living on the street he receives some terrible news: during a fight in the refugee camp in Kivu, his father had killed his mother. Maurice still suffers a lot when he talks about how he received the news.

The youth of the Community of Sant'Egidio in Butare met him on the street some time later. They have overcome his initial distrust, they loosened the mask of toughness that concealed the fragility of a boy without a family; a friendship was born. Maurice began to attend the School of Peace, he became close to new older siblings.

In 2005, when the Rwandese government inaugurated a tougher policy towards street children, forcing institutionalization in public facilities, Sant'Egidio thought about responding to their needs with the creation of a more human, a more familiar context. The family home of Sant'Egidio was born in Butare and Maurice was one of the first guests.

Thanks to this, his life has changed dramatically. Not only because from then on he started to eat everyday and dress well, to attend school regularly, to be registered in the civil registry. But also because living together in a new and non-confrontational with his peers and friends of the Community, Maurice has learned to give the right value to the contact with others, to human relationships. He was taken to seek for their relatives in the country, to re-establish ties with them, to meet them during the summer.

Today Maurice has become a young man who looks to the future with confidence, who nurtures small and big ambitions, who dreams to make his own contribution to the growth of his country. And he thanks Sant'Egidio, which for him was a place of salvation from shipwreck, abandonment, and marginalization.