Why launch the South-North mission? In the past the mission had been the response to a call from the Universal Church which concerned people of all origins. Like in the past, now it is the volunteers of the South who leave their countries and their habits to put themselves at the service of others. They set off to meet another culture, to meet sisters and brothers who suffer because, if the countries of the South have poverty, the countries of the North also have poverty. The people of the countries of the South have a great wealth to bring to the North and former volunteers have noticed this during their own missions.
The implementation of this voluntary reciprocity is driven by the urgency of building a culture of encounter for a more fraternal world. Our former volunteers have experienced the joy of meeting and of serving the poor; they have known how much volunteers in the field need to feel supported. I make myself the spokesperson for Laura and Aimé (read below) to tell you how much your prayer counts for their mission.
Laura Dusingize is on a mission with Simon de Cyrene whose work is to establish places to live for disabled adults living with able-bodied people. Laura is a social worker and supports the residents in living together by helping with household chores and with the residents’ activities.
I am writing to you from Simon de Cyrene, an association founded to meet the social needs of people with disabilities, who live a life shared with other able-bodied people, in order to forge a friendly and supportive relationship. I like to cook and to do activities with the residents: it’s a time when I can listen and exchange ideas about community life. These times allow me to get to know them better, their past, their joys and the sensitive subjects in their lives. Before this mission, I thought I would be doing the residents favor, but they are also helping me. They need to experience this reciprocity. Before leaving my country, Rwanda, which I love so much, I asked the Holy Spirit to guide me every day. From my first day in France, it was really hard to understand what people were telling me. First, the French speak so fast, and you can’t always ask a person to repeat more than twice. I’m not saying I’m fluent in French now, but it’s better than the first day I set foot in this territory! God is always there if you look closely; He foresaw this because when I came to Simon de Cyrene, I was accepted with my weaknesses. The people with whom I work teach me about humility. Laura
Aimé Karemera is at the service of the people living on the street with Aux Captifs La Liberation. He takes part in many activities offered by this center: initial reception of people from the street, listening time, street tours, support for people with administrative procedures, visits to hospitals.
I meet, accompany and discover the people living on the street with the association Aux Captifs La Liberation on street tours where one is present to the person and does not impose oneself; that is to join her where she is at and allow herself to be encountered. The relationship comes before the social service and we thus forge relationships of trust by attentive listening, by sharing a moment of conviviality and by welcoming who the person is. For the moment I did one street tour with Jean-Noël who is a volunteer, and it went very well. I can say that it is a very good way of evangelizing by reaching out to the poor, not with money or other material means but with Jesus who is with us. He is the one who gives us the words we say to these people by creating the connections and he is the one who pushes them to come to the Center after our meeting. My first day what surprised me, because I wasn’t expecting it, was the kindness that I saw. At the beginning, it is not easy in a way to make the people we welcome feel comfortable. But, little by little, it builds up with the time we spend together. One small thing that stood out to me was the importance of saying hello, of saying thank you and of smiling at the guests. It is by saying hello with a smile that one opens the conversation with these people, and it is our thank you that shows them that they are also of value like the others, or which gives them the hope that they can do something important.
I am also sent to another association called the APA (Association Pour Amitié). [https://associationpourlamitie.com/] Their center is located in the Bagneux neighborhood, south of Paris. It is a very beautiful family of 11 people that God has given me in this beautiful mission and they are very nice, kind and very welcoming. It is a great opportunity for all of us to share a fraternal life because each one has his or her richness that he or she can share with others, in complementarity. We pray Lauds together five days a week, which helps us grow together in our spiritual life. Even though we are quarantined due to Covid, I can say that it has helped us to spend a lot of time together, to discover each other by doing participatory work camps, by praying the Rosary together every Sunday (for those who want), by playing board games, sharing our culture and playing soccer together.
It is a great pleasure to be in the country which is the eldest daughter of the Church, and that is why by coming to this country, one of the motivations that I had and that I still have, was to grow in faith and in spiritual life by deepening my relationship with God. I had the chance to join the Emmanuel Community and I am in a home group with six other young people who live in Paris. They are very friendly and very welcoming. It is very beautiful because we pray for each other: as we are all almost the same age, we understand each other’s difficulties and struggles. So this is a great opportunity for me to continue the journey towards holiness with the Community of Emmanuel. Aimé