Tuesday 27 August 2013

Also in Ngozi, Burundi, the summer of the Sant'Egidio youth with the elderly

The youngest of the Community of Sant'Egidio of Ngozi, a small town in the North of Burundi, few kilometres from the border with Rwanda, began, a few months ago, to be nearer to the poor elderly who live by begging around the school. The other members of the Community, adults and university students, supported them in this friendship. One Saturday after another, with the visits, but also with the parties together, they entered into the world of the elderly, and were able to discover the state of necessity in which many of them live, with their problems and their needs.

The first need is that of the house. Many old people are forced to live on the street without a shelter or guarantees. Then, why not use the summer months, free from school work, to give a house to the homeless elderly?

The whole Community got busy: collections to buy wood and bricks, height design, work shifts: the first two "building sites" were already started and almost concluded, while others are under construction. In the meantime, they make culture: the high school students of the Community are also planning to make a survey on the elderly who live on the two
hills near the school, to make a census of their number and know better their living conditions .

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Arusha (Tanzania) - The communities of Sant’Egidio commemorate the attack of three months ago praying for peace and reconciliation

A meeting of all of the communities of Sant’Egidio in Tanzania opened on the 2nd of August in remembrance of the attack that resulted in three victims and many others wounded at the beginning of May in Arusha, in the parish of Olasiti, dedicated to Saint Joseph the Artisan. That
day those present at the time of the attack included the bishop of Arusha and the Apostolic Nuntius in Tanzania. 
In the square facing the church, in front of the graves of those who died that morning of the month of May - a woman and two children - Sant'Egidio people and others prayed for the victims of evil, for the pacification of the hearts, for the establishment of a culture of coexistence and reconciliation.
Confronting the forces of evil and the clouds that are darkening the future of a society that has been - and still is to a large extent - a model of coexistence among different cultures and faiths, they wanted to reaffirm their confidence in the soft power of prayer. 
Sant'Egidio people and others sang the words of Psalm 85: “Love and truth will meet, justice and peace will kiss”. It has been reminded everyone the need to be instruments of peace in order to not squander the historical legacy of Tanzania but to transmit it to future generations, so that the heart of many may be transfigured, so that dialogue and coexistence sweep away all hatred and violence.  

Sunday 18 August 2013

West Africa - The Communities of Sant’Egidio for a culture of life in defense of children

The African communities of Sant’Egidio, especially those in West Africa, intensify their efforts to defend children’s rights, to promote a culture that respects the life of the youngest members of society.
In too many sub-Saharan contexts there is an extensive misunderstanding of the rights of minors, there is a vast underestimation of the dignity and value of their lives. In this perspective, besides the great effort put forth by Sant’Egidio to guarantee the birth registration of the greatest possible number of minors in Burkina Faso, noticeable are the efforts of the communities of the Ivory Coast and the Republic of Guinea.
In the Ivory Coast - in the context of a situation that is pacified following the recent civil war, but is nonetheless still difficult due to price increases and the growing gap between rich and poor -
Sant’Egidio manages almost 40 Schools of Peace, involving 3300 minors including children, adolescents and street kids. This is a very important effort at educating for peace and human promotion in a country which, sadly, has recently witnessed ritual murders of children. Last February one such murder case regarded a girl who was involved with our activities. What is needed is to provide hope, to build a new culture starting from younger people, involving as many as possible in a movement that aims at finding salvation together from the crisis, in solidarity and humanity, a movement that helps to resist to the temptation to seek refuge in the lure of irrationality and violence. The movement of the Young People for Peace grows in the Ivory Coast and aspires to become a barrier to inhumanity and indifference.
The work the Community is carrying out in the Schools of Peace of Guinea is also important. Here too, unfortunately, we see an increase in violence against minors. Sant’Egidio reacted with force when one of the children of the Yimbaya center was beaten to death by his teacher because he did not have the money he was supposed to give her. This is, sadly, a common practice in Guinea: several teachers pad their salaries by demanding payment from their own students. The prayer organized by Sant’Egidio to raise its voice against this tragedy was broadcast nationally on the radio. Our closeness to the poor and in particular to the most vulnerable children must turn into information and sensitivity. 

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Gulu (Uganda) - The story of Ojey: how the school of Peace heals war wounds

Ojey (let’s call him in this way) grew up in a difficult time for Northern Uganda. Civil war terrorized the population and, especially at night, rural areas were hostage to violence and kidnappings. Children and teenagers were plagued by nightmares every time there was news of another kidnapping. Every night hundreds of them traveled from their Acholi villages, carrying their knapsacks, in search of safer sleeping quarters in the crowded streets of Gulu. 
Ojey was seven years old. He lived on the outskirts of Gulu with his family and did not need to move around at night. Or at least that is what he thought until one night the rebels broke into his house and killed his parents.
Ojey does not talk much about what happened that night; for several years he clammed up.
The fact is that the child finds himself alone. He wanders around the streets of Gulu and does what he can to survive. He joins other children and young people who live in the streets.
One day he stops in front of the School of Peace of the Sant’Egidio community. He does this
out of curiosity. But everyone there is kind to him. He enjoys stopping by, observing what goes on, staying on to read and write.
At the School of Peace he becomes a loyal attendee, always punctual. He even gets to know the Italian friends of Sant’Egidio and writes to them often. His English improves with every letter and his words and thoughts get clearer and clearer, as if they came from an obscure, dark past and looked ahead to a brighter future.
He writes: “we, the Youth For Peace in Gulu, in Uganda, are very happy to communicate with you via this letter. How are you? We are doing well. And with our friendship there is opportunity for growth. We wanted to ask you: how can we grow, us young people all over the world? How can we make the world a better place? We do our part through our gospel meetings, our prayers, visiting the sick in the hospital, the inmates, helping the poor and the elderly. Through all this we can make the world a better place. My dream is to change the world, so men no longer have to suffer because of poverty and violence.”
Thanks to the help he received through Sant’Egidio’s program of long distance adoption Ojey was able to begin his studies He achieved significant progress. He had a lot to catch up on but he was very dedicated.
He dedicates the rest of his free time to his great passion, football; he is a Chelsea fan although during the world Cup Ojey always routes for Italy. But most of all there is the possibility of a different future. Soon Ojey will enroll in a professional school to become a mechanic.