Thursday, 31 July 2014

Sant’Egidio celebrates the ‘Id al-Fitr with the Muslim poor

Muslims all over the world have recently celebrated the ‘Id al-Fitr, the feast of breaking the fast, that marks the end of the sacred month of Ramadan, dedicated to fasting, prayer and helping the poor.
The Community of Sant’Egidio expressed its best wishes for this event to all of its Muslim friends and endeavored to ensure that those among the poor that would not have had the
opportunity to do so could celebrate the ‘Id, both in Muslim countries such as Indonesia (see the picture of the Iftar celebrated with the homeless who, though living in truly difficult conditions still rigorously observe the fasting) and in the West (see the picture of the family-like dinner that took place in the Ponte Galeria center for identification and expulsion).
An Egyptian young man held at Ponte Galeria was moved by the experience and said: “Thank you for thinking about us: we are brothers,
Christians and Muslims”.  
This is in fact the meaning of this sign of friendship that was also experienced in various forms in other parts of the world by local Sant’Egidio families, in the spirit of the message issued a few days ago, in the occasion of the ‘Id, by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue: “Let us work together to build bridges of peace and to promote reconciliation. May our friendship always inspire us to cooperate to confront the many challenges [that are before us] with wisdom and prudence. That way we will be able to help decrease tensions and conflicts, and advance the common good. We will also show that religions can be a source of harmony for the good of society as a whole. Let us pray that reconciliation, justice, peace and development remain our key priorities for the wellbeing and the good of the entire human family.”

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Bukoba, Tanzania - Conferences in schools, towards a movement of Youth for Peace

The communities of Sant’Egidio of Tanzania intend to live out the commitment to which the entire movement present in the states of Eastern Africa has been called to by the recent
meeting in Bujumbura in Burundi as explained in the website. It is the commitment to continue to go forward on themes of prayer, the poor and peace, the commitment to transmit to the younger generations a different sensitivity with respect to the weaker sectors of society (elderly and children) and to build in the continent a Christian humanism made of culture and compassion. 
A series of conferences to introduce Sant’Egidio and its work have taken place over the past few days in various Tanzanian cities, in Dar es Salaam, Arusha, and especially in Kagera, the region that has Bukoba as its capital and that neighbors Rwanda and Burundi. Hundreds of secondary school students, from public and private schools, were able to listen to a proposal of
a Gospel of fraternity and service, attentive to the needs of the poor, open to broader horizons than the usual ones. In an atmosphere of keen attention, they asked questions addressing the concrete dimension of the context in which they live as well as the broader scenarios confronted by Sant’Egidio.
The hope is that a network of communities in secondary schools can be born out of these meetings, a Tanzanian “Youth for Peace”, a “Vijana kwa Amani” (in Swahili), that could join the movements that already exist in many African countries, in particular in Malawi, in the Ivory Coast, in Rwanda, in Mozambique.  

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso - BRAVO! workshop: “Help me to exist!”

The Community of Sant’Egidio launched some years ago a global programme named BRAVO! (Birth Registration for All versus Oblivion!) in order to facilitate the registration of children in the developing countries. According to UNICEF estimations the number of unregistered children every year is close to 50 million (2007). Sant’Egidio works with the concerned Government ministries and departments, assisting them in building capacity of the civil registration systems and creating awareness among parents and children, adopting a balanced approach between service provider (Government) and the beneficiaries.
As we can read in Sant’Egidio and BRAVO! websites, ( and birth registration is remarkably placed in the everyday life of a person; it gives rights; it protects people. Unregistered children are more vulnerable than others: the likelihood of trafficking of these children, and abuses of different kinds - ranging from sexual abuse, engagement in armed conflicts to labour and early age marriage, etc - is higher than of those registered at birth. It is thus rightly considered as an effective means of child protection.
One of the countries where the program is more active is Burkina Faso. In that country the collaboration between Sant'Egidio and public institutions has proved particularly effective, and
two million people have been registered in recent years. That's why in Ouagadougou, the capital city, was held in July the 4th BRAVO! Training Course “Aide à moi exister!”, “Help me to exist”, a formation period for registration operators among civil servants. Over 350 of them took part in the training, presidents and vice-presidents of the district courts, qualified representatives of local health services and maternity, employees in registration offices, etc..