More than 10,000 baskets have been delivered since the pandemic began
São Paulo, Brazil, May 5, 2021 – In the week of April 18 to 24, 460 migrant families were supported and registered at the Missão Paz basic basket program. For comparison purposes, from the beginning of the pandemic to the end of April, more than 10,000 baskets were delivered. Missão Paz is a well-known Scalabrinian entity that, over time, became a benchmark for welcoming foreigners in the capital São Paulo, Brazil. The work includes a series of interconnected services: Casa do Migrante, with more than one hundred places for overnight stays and meals; CPMM – Center for Pastoral and Migrant Mediation, which includes social, legal, medical, and psychological assistance, with help in documentation, learning Portuguese and job placement; CEM – Center for Migration Studies, which periodically publishes the Travessia Magazine, at the same time that it makes available a library specialized in migration; Iglesia Nossa Senhora da Paz, which, in addition to being a territorial parish, is historically a personal parish for Italian immigrants and today also a personal parish for Spanish-speaking immigrants.
With the Covid-19 pandemic and its disastrous implications for the most vulnerable sectors of the population, work continues with some online services and with the limitations that the tragedy imposes on all societies. In recent months, however, like other works, associations and related entities, have dedicated, in particular, to alleviating the poverty and hunger of the different nations and ethnic groups that inhabit this gigantic city and its surroundings. The growing distribution of basic food baskets, far from being mere assistance, has become a case of life and death. Three aspects of this essential aid have drawn the attention of the religious, employees, and volunteers involved in the work: the pandemic exposes the condition of uprooted peoples and the diaspora; the solidarity of immigrant families living in the country has intensified; there is a need to network.
If the situation of migrants is usually precarious in normal times, what happens to their struggles, dreams, and hopes during crises, plagues, and pandemics? The coronavirus tore the veil of appearances for everyone, but it did so in a much more dramatic way for those outside their homeland. The invisible enemy has further narrowed the door to the so-called formal market for foreigners, which in turn opens other doors to a series of rights related to citizenship. It also opened and aggravated, in addition, the nakedness of those who, with their fragile vessel, run after the winds of the capital and collect the crumbs that fall from the table of the rich. They are left with the always uncertain, temporary and ephemeral « peaks » of the submerged economy. This is usually the first victim of the crisis, dragging with it workers trying to balance themselves in the quicksand of chaos.
But the pandemic, like all scourges, also brings out the best that human beings have at their heart. Missão Paz, in its task of helping immigrants, particularly newcomers, mobilizes an anonymous army of volunteers and donors. Without their solidarity, there would be no basic food baskets that could help so many people. The most interesting thing is to realize that most donors carry wounds and scars from some exodus experience, either in their own family or among their friends and known ones. Some are long-time historical immigrants; others have come to the country in recent decades. Foreigners who, having crossed limbo, reach out to those who are knocking at the door at that moment!
The overwhelming fury of Covid-19, in the end, consists of a strong warning sign. This type of contagion has to do with the devastation of ecosystems and the destruction of the environment. The wild world, with its surprises and hidden risks, is getting closer and closer to the world in which we move. And this makes it clear that being the global threat, the fight must also be, that is, both local and global at the same time; hence the imperative of an effort in a network, joint, organic, synergistic, where the different actors and protagonists act in a convergent way.