In Times of Pandemic: Scalabrian Solidarity from Lima to Kaohsiung

Our account of the initiatives undertaken by the missionaries to help the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 emergency continues

Rome, June 19, 2020 – In these months of lockdown for the COVID-19 pandemic, many initiatives have been undertaken by Scalabrinian missions and centers around the world in support of those who have found it difficult to meet even the most basic needs, both in the migrant and resident population.

In the previous article, we told you about the missions in Brazil and Chile. We now see further Scalabrinian testimonies of commitment and solidarity towards the most vulnerable.

We remind you that the May-June 2020 issue of the Scalabriniani magazine hosts an insert entitled Questions in time of the pandemic, edited by the Scalabrinian General Management. Scalabriniani is a magazine that promotes cultural, social, and religious solidarity with migrants and can be read online (the article from the Directorate General can be found on pp. 19-20).

South America

Peru and Argentina

In Tacna, a city in Peru, there is the Casa de Acogida Santa Rosa de Lima. The problems have not been a few, including those with the authorities for the management of the situation. « In the first month of quarantine, which led to the total closure of the borders (from mid-March to mid-April), more than 300 migrants entered the country irregularly, especially Haitians, Venezuelans, and Colombians the missionaries write – We sheltered the migrants in our facility and gave them the opportunity to remain for all the time of compulsory social isolation. (…)

The dialogue with the authorities was ineffective: they asked us to receive groups of migrants who continued to enter Peru irregularly but without any assumption of responsibility on their part for any health emergencies that could have occurred inside the shelter. We did not allow access to any of the over one hundred people who knocked on our door to make sure everyone inside the shelter was fine. Faced with this deplorable situation, as pastoral care for the migrant and with the resources of some small projects to maintain our services, we started offering help with food, hygiene products, mattresses, blankets, and clothes. »

In Mendoza, Argentina, the Parroquia Madre de los Migrantes and the Escuela Scalabrini hosted forty and eighty people respectively. “In this period we managed to help twenty-three Venezuelan families and over one hundred and twenty people – the missionaries write – Our resources come from the Scalabrinian religious community, from the ‘Puentes de Solidariedad’ a project promoted by the Migrants & Refugees Section, from some institutions, and people of goodwill.”

Other countries

Obviously, the Scalabrinian presence also extends to the territories of other countries. We refer you for them to read the contents hosted by other Scalabrinian pages: La Paz (Bolivia), Tijuana (Mexico), El Salvador, Tecún Umán (Guatemala), Bogotá (Colombia, where the renovations of the welcoming center have started) and Cúcuta (where construction of a new center has also begun).


Taiwan and the Philippines

« It is a video that lasts less than two minuteswrites Fr. Ansensius Guntur, Scalabrinian missionary and Director of the Stella Maris Kaohsiung – but it shows our efforts to take care of the fishermen during the COVID-19 pandemic. » The Kaohsiung Stella Maris center was founded in 1968 and is part of the Apostleship of the Sea (AOS), an international network of support and spiritual assistance to seafarers, fishermen, and sailors.

In a recent bulletin of the Migrants & Refugees Section dedicated to information channels for displaced persons, there is also talk of the three Scalabrinian centers that in the Philippines « still operate despite financial and health difficulties: the Stella Maris center of the Apostolate of the Sea, and the Scalabrini Center for People on the Move and the Pius Dormitory, which together host 259 people plus 8 staff members.” Here are the two original articles written by Father Paulo Prigol, Coordinator of the Apostleship of the Sea for Southeast Asia and Director of the Scalabrini Center for People on the Move (SCPM): Covid-19 Emergency in the Philippines. Fr. Prigol: « Never Seen Such Solidarity«  and Two Months of Lockdown in Manila.


Italy and South Africa

“Santa Maria della Luce, Trastevere, a point of reference for Latin Americans in the capital. The COVID-19 was a cyclone that swept the few safety features of an immigrant community. The Scalabrinian fathers try to organize aid.”

These are the words of the journalist Enzo Romeo, who in a news program on TG2 aired on June 9, 2020, talked about the initiatives to deal with the COVID-19 emergency set up by the Scalabrinian church of Santa Maria della Luce in Rome. A few days later, CNN En Español also became interested in the activities of the Latin American chaplaincy in Rome (here is the report by the journalist Javier Romero).

The Latin American mission of Rome adheres to the #UnaSolaCasa solidarity campaign, promoted by the Scalabrinian Agency for Development Cooperation (ASCS) and by the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN). Thanks to the funds raised, it has been possible to help various missions in the world, including the Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church in Johannesburg, South Africa, which has been mentioned several times on the main newspapers (for example, the article by Avvenire).