The Mission Grace, an endeavor of humanitarian help of the Fraternidade – International Humanitarian Federation in Europe, is preparing itself for a new stage, which will include, besides the support to the Missionaries of Charity, to Caritas Hellas and to an orthodox church, other opportunities of service to the refugees of Middle East and of African countries.
Since last week, four Missionaries of the Fraternidade replace the team of missionaries of two missionaries who had stayed in Athens for two months, sustaining the solidary activities of the permanent base in Greece. “For the time being, we will resume the tasks that we had been developing with other organizations, while we wait for other opportunities of service”, commented in the Greek capital Ricardo Baumgartner, the coordinator of the Sector of Emergencies and of Humanitarian Missions of the Fraternidade.
Paralysis and renewal
“As European, I lived a strange mixture of sensations: on the one hand, a paralysed country, ill-taken care of, very distant from the Europe that I know, with many Greek persons abandoned on the streets, in emblematic sites of Greece; what drew my attention was not to see new buildings, the stagnant energy. On the other hand, I felt a powerful energy of purity and of renewal that comes from other cultures, other religions, other peoples, through people who, in spite of the terror that they have had to experience, are not paralysed and who arrive in Europe with the hope of begin again”, reported Teresa after her mission in the Greece Mission.
The missionary also highlighted two deeds she qualifies as “promising signs”: on the one hand, the presence of many European youths who, leaving aside their vocations, go to Greece to help, and, on the other hand, the strong devotional energy that the Islamic immigration – that which comes with pacific intentions – is injecting in a continent “where the neutral people are gaining positions fast”.
Imer, the other missionary who sustained the mission for two months, stressed the importance for the refugees of simple gestures of love, such as sincere attention or a warm hug, “because everyone arrives with a history of pain, after having lost family members in very cruel circumstances, or who separated from their husband who is arrested, or from young children who were recruited for the war or for terrorism. We know women wounded by bombs and with several little children…”
In Greece, refugees arrive from Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Congo, Eritrea, Morroco, Tunisia, Algeria, Nigeria, Georgia, Azerbaijan and from several other countries with warfare conflict or with acute economical crisis.
Imer stated that the mission “was an experience of broadening of consciousness that not only opened our eyes to the suffering that other parts of the world undergo, but also to this spirit of solidarity and of disinterested fraternity that arises in volunteers who come from all parts of the world. We know collaborators from the United States, Mexico, Czech Republic, England, France, Greece, Holland, Korea, Phillipines, Denmark, Albania and also from African countries who arrive as refugees and end up joining as volunteers”.
Both missionaries highlighted the opportunities of ecumenical unity they could live through service, sharing with Catholics, Orthodox, Evangelicals, Anglicans, Muslims, people without religion and even atheists. “From the conversations we had, we could perceive a mixture of frustration, of impotence, because the problem seems to aggravate and not find a sign of solution, but at the same time there was a great inner force that moved all these volunteers to donate of themselves without limits, convinced that above all are equality and fraternity”, concluded Imer.