Promoting a Movement of Solidarity and Closeness
by Yolanda Diaz, Coordinator of the Commission on Human Mobility and Trafficking in Persons, Diocese of Chiclayo
Due to the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, more than five million people were forced to leave their land and seek better opportunities in other countries. Peru has received nearly one million Venezuelan citizens. It was not prepared as a country to receive this significant number of people and there were no immigration policies that would ensure better living conditions.
Two years ago, Bishop Robert Prevost Martínez, O.S.A., Bishop of Chiclayo, convened the formation of the Commission on Human Mobility and Trafficking in Persons to assure pastoral care for the migrants. This experience allowed migrants to be organized in 11 districts, forming support teams, and involving the migrants themselves in this evangelizing task. One of the districts is La Victoria where there are around 200 migrant families.
Supporting a Community of Faith to accompany migrants
In La Victoria, the community of faith made up of lay people, formed by the Sisters of Charity and priests from the Archdiocese of Halifax, continue to live their experience of faith and commitment, gather to pray, reflect on the word of the Lord and share experiences that allow them to put solidarity into action. They are accompanied by Sister Martha Loo who visits them every year from Lima and with whom they have a relationship of friendship.
The pandemic generated by the COVID-19 virus aggravated the situation of migrants. They were forced into quarantine and social isolation and needed to abandon the job opportunities they had and to face this moment of emergency very precariously. Very soon economic difficulties and illness affected their lives. The Commission on Human Mobility felt sent by the Lord to go out to meet our brothers and sisters who were at a disadvantage, suffering hunger, sickness, loneliness and abandonment aggravated by the pandemic. “I was hungry and you fed me, I was sick and you came to visit me, I was an outsider and you welcomed me into your home” (Mt.25:34) are the words of Jesus that resonate strongly at this time of Coronavirus.
Gestures of solidarity and closeness
In the face of this situation, there have been many gestures of solidarity that have occurred as signs of the Presence of the Lord, communicating life and hope for his people and encouraging us as a Church to continue in this task of accompanying a suffering people.
The Sisters of Charity have been one of the Congregations during these months of pandemic who have accompanied and encouraged the work that has been carried out by the Commission on Human Mobility in the Diocese of Chiclayo. Through Sister Martha Loo we have received your support, have felt cared for in the most difficult moments. When the disease knocked on the door, she was there and even from a distance, she knew how to help and accompany our healing process and that of other brothers and sisters. Thanks to this help, migrant families and Peruvian families in La Victoria and other places in the diocese, have received food packages and shelter and with these gestures, comes the love of God who does not abandon his people and hope grows. Its presence encourages and generates a movement of solidarity and closeness. Others get involved, generating solidarity with small collections, attending to specific needs, and care for disease, clothing and food. They bear fruits of a faith that is realized in the works of love and mercy, making solidarity grow.