We present some of the initiatives of the missionaries in Brazil and Chile to help the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 emergency
Rome, June 11, 2020 – In these months of confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Scalabrinian missions and centers around the world have undertaken many initiatives in support of those who find it difficult to meet even the most basic needs, both in the migrant population and in the local.
We have already spoken about some of these experiences and the challenges that characterized them (for example, in Fr. Prigol’s articles on the situation in Manila). Now, we present more Scalabrinian testimonies of commitment and solidarity with the most vulnerable.
The reflection of the Scalabrinian General Directorate
“In this moment of the pandemic, everyone suffers – the article reads – on the side of migrants, the consequences of this crisis on families cannot be ignored. The family is one of the fundamental reasons why you migrate. Families depend on remittances from migrants to send their children to school, to have something to eat, to plan for the future. Many borders are practically closed. (…) The basic imperative issued by governments was: stay home. But in which house does the home remain? The migrant’s home becomes the refuge of those who have no other solution. But how can we welcome without endangering the health of the residents? ”
Much of the information on Scalabrinian missions in South America was gathered from the page Missionários Scalabrinianos – América do Sul, to which we invite you to follow on Facebook.
Let’s start from Brazil, which we recently talked about on our website in an article entitled In Brazil in Times of Pandemic by Fr. Antonio Seganfredo, professor at the Theological Institute of São Paulo (ITESP).
“Tell the Brazilian people that I not only pray for all of you, but I always accompany you with my heart,” Pope Francis said in a phone call to Archbishop Orlando Brandes of Aparecida on the eve of Corpus Domini. In fact, the situation in the territory is not easy at all.
In Cuiabá, where the Scalabrinian missionaries are present with the Divino Espírito Santo Parish and the Pastoral Center for Migrants, more than seventy people were received, who were offered food, lodging, and basic services in a total quarantine regime. “In the premises, there are migrants from Venezuela, Haiti, and Colombia –the publication reads– “we are also distributing food and basic needs each month to a hundred families, thus helping more than five hundred people.”
The Brazilian radio station All News CBN recounted the solidarity activities and initiatives carried out in São Paulo by Missão Paz, the Scalabrinian mission led by Fr. Paolo Parise that has supported and welcomed migrants and refugees in the Brazilian city since 1939: “The service at the Casa del Migrante continues. There are no cases of illness among the 64 guests. (…) Missão Paz has delivered up to 50 baskets and basic hygiene kits per day. Since March 26, more than 1,800 have been distributed. ”
And speaking of radio, Father Alexandre De Nardi Biolchi, Scalabrinian missionary adviser of the Scalabrinian Region Our Lady Mother of Migrants, told Vatican News about the solidarity activities and initiatives implemented during the coronavirus emergency by the Scalabrinian Network of Radios: “At this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, all broadcasters were involved in the delivery of basic hygiene and health care products, as well as food and non-perishable clothing. In addition, with the suspension of the participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic celebrations, the announcers added a daily mass to the program, in addition to the celebrations already broadcast and other moments of faith that are part of normal hours. “ Among the stations that are part of the network are Rádio Cultura 93.9 FM, Rádio Sarandi Rádio Rosário 89.7 FM and Rádio Aurora 107.1 FM. For a list of initiatives taken, you can read this publication.
Other Scalabrinian initiatives have been prepared for the distribution of basic needs in Sarandi, Porto Alegre, Florianópolis, Passo Fundo, Guaporé, and Manaus, the great city of the Amazon that was the epicenter of the epidemic.
In Santiago de Chile, Scalabrinians are present with different realities, including the Parish of Our Lady of Pompeii, the Scalabrini Chile Foundation, the Catholic Institute of Migration (INCAMI Chile) and the Integrated Center for Migrant Care (CIAMI). “Since March 16, 2020, we have adopted all the planned safety and sanitation measures and have provided the Scalabrinian mission with what is necessary for prevention – a publication reads – We continue to offer some services, especially information on documentation procedures through social networks, WhatsApp and telephone contact, and psychological counseling through video calls. In the reception houses, we enter a strict quarantine, keeping people lodged (42 women and 27 men) and without welcoming nobody else. (…) With what is not consumed in the reception houses, basic baskets are prepared for migrants who need it. Many of them who have no way to pay the rent are evicted. We are working to contact organizations to offer them a roof so they don’t stay on the street. ”
Scalabrinian missionaries in Arica, where Sagrada Familia Parish and Casa del Migrante Beato Scalabrini are also involved in the reception and distribution of goods: “by temporarily suspending reception at the shelter during the period of containment and prevention – another message reads – all migrants were directed to external accommodation and rented spaces. During this quarantine period, we assist some 500 people with the delivery of basic baskets and necessities. We still have enough available for May and June. We hope that everything will return to normal.”