[Province of Fortaleza – Brazil] There is no need to go too far. In squares, on sidewalks, asking for money at the traffic lights or sleeping under a tree. This is the day to day reality of about 4,500 people in the city of Fortaleza. It is the seventh most violent city in the world and the second most violent city in Brazil, according to a survey by a Mexican NGO conducted this year. According to the Ministry of Labor, Social Development and Fight against Hunger (Setra), the homeless in Fortaleza are invisible to many people and frighten a large part of the population.
The number of homeless has grown as a result of population growth itself, drugs, a breakdown of family ties and unemployment. And with that, they end up on the street, which is “rock bottom”. Consumption and addiction to crack have been increasing more and more among the homeless, especially among the youth and children.
Weakened by circumstances, people on the streets in Fortaleza found the protection for everyday life on the streets of the Capital only in themselves. Depending primarily on themselves to survive, they are at the mercy of drugs, alcoholism and the charity of a few people. And society and people in general got used to the presence of the homeless, as something normal; they no longer become indignant at that. This is the most problematic and unbelievable situation: the inability of society to become indignant over this growing number of people who are living on the edge of all that society offers as basic things such as feeding, hygiene, bathing and clean clothes.
Each homeless person is the Christ threatened with death. “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). The Daughters of Charity of the Province of Fortaleza were not indifferent or insensitive to those who are excluded and marginalized by society and their reality. At night, we wander the deserted streets and squares of the capital, going towards those to whom nobody wants to go. We bring corporal nourishment and take care of their aches and injuries. Our goal is not only corporal service but also spiritual service. We dedicate our time to serve them and entrust our mission to God: “To make God present to the poor”, whatever their needs are. Our charism is alive and active, but requires love, care, dedication, boldness and creativity.
“A Sister will go ten times a day to visit the sick, and ten times a day she’ll find God there” (IX, 199). The task is not easy. The journey is arduous and sometimes dangerous. But what drives us and motivates us to be with the homeless people is our love for Jesus Christ. What we do to the poor, we do to Christ himself!
Sisters of the Community of the Provincial House