Listening to the Poor – Future Interprovincial Community in a crucial place

[Spanish Provinces] Sr Carmen Pérez, General Councillor, and four Visitatrixes of Spain arrived at the Melilla Airport mid-morning on June 30th. Sr María Pilar and two Councillors of-España-Sur and Father Jesús María González, Vincentians San Vicente España Province, came to welcome them. They began a marathon visit, accompanied by the President and Delegate of Melilla Cáritas since the planned project will be in collaboration with them.

Mr. Gabriel Leal, Vicar and Delegate of Málaga Cáritas joined them in the afternoon. From the airport they went to “La Purisima”, an old barrack for 250 youth that currently houses about 600 young people from 11-18 years old, so it is overcrowded and, of course, they are poorly housed. They live with the hope of reaching the age of 18 and obtaining the card that entitles them to travel to the peninsula to, hopefully, enter into Europe. The procedures are slow and it is rare that they ever arrive by this means. All was very touching, especially the bedrooms because there is little space for so much as a litter or mattress. But at least they have food, a roof, water to bathe, clothes, classes and a ball to play with.

Departure to the border was Sunday, passing customs on foot and meeting our Sisters of Nador-Driouch, Magnificat. They visited Dar-Hería, a shelter for poor people with disabilities where the Sisters strive to serve and try to improve their situation. Being first time Visitors, they shuddered to see so much pain. Three Jesuits, four religious “Infantitas” and two Franciscan Missionaries of Mary who will join the intended Project, were present and with whom the Eucharist was celebrated. It was followed by a family meal and a joyful gathering.

After they went to the Gurugú mountain to one of the camps, a settlement semi-hidden in the forests. There are thousands of Sub- Saharians, in inhuman conditions: families, young people small children and pregnant women. Almost all survive by chance with the hope of reaching Europe, at the price, many times, of their lives. It is after a long pilgrimage from country to country in Africa, with bad drivers and always ruined by the mafias, until they reach this painful place of waiting.

Back in Melilla, hidden among the rocks and caves, are minors waiting to leave Melilla as stowaways in boats. They slide from their hiding place with ropes, swim to climb boats and hide in lifeboats, under trucks, etc. This is the most painful group to see, very small children even 10 years old, who have entered as they could, even from very remote populations of Morocco. During the day they wander the streets begging and at night shelter in this place. The police turn a blind eye so they run freely and snort glue. It is so difficult to see them on drugs! They fall, dizzy, no roof, no bread! It is these children, between 50-100 of them, that the Company of the Daughters of Charity in Melilla wants to serve. And how difficult, after having seen this picture, it is for us to fall asleep…

Next was a quick visit to the house for the Interprovincial Community of 5 Sisters, that, God willing, will be in the Future Project. A community of Sisters was housed here before but after many years it needs some remodelling and sanitation. They paid a visit to the CETI (Center for Temporary Stay of Immigrants) where they are well cared for and well organized, but also overcrowded, and therefore lacking space and facilities.

We want to give an answer to this urgent and important call. Before it one feels helpless, but only trusting in Providence, and following our Founders steps, concludes with a “GO FORWARD TO THE PROJECT!”.

“I have seen them,” said St Vincent in 1655, speaking of those condemned to be galley slaves. And seeing and listening, getting in touch with the Poor, makes one exclaim like the saint on other occasion “Sorry, my God, I did not know it”. All of us have seen them and we can only say… In your name we will throw in our nets!

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