"We must break the stories of slavery in order to inspire a process of resilience -the capacity to overcome negative conditions with love."
On 22nd February 2001, two of us from Divine Word Missionaries went to Mother Theresa of Calcutta home to share our lives and mission. Mother Theresa of Calcutta homes were founded in 1988 by an SVD bishop, Jorge Novak, in Quilmes, South of the great Buenos Aires in Argentina.
Currently, there are seven homes dedicated to the care and development of children and adolescents who cannot live with their families of origin. Basically, there are three groups of children: the orphaned, after the death their parents; those that live functional orphan status due to either imprisonment of their parents or their parents have terminal illnesses or have some form of psychiatric disorders that render them unable to take good care of their children; and finally, children who are victims of their own relatives, due to a number of addictions, alcoholism or crime and may also involve the children in these or may subject them to some mistreatment resulting in physical abuse.
The home currently houses 70 children and adolescents, giving them an alternative home from their families of origin. There they are assured of a place to sleep, food, health care, recreation, education, training in workshops and professions. It is a fraternity kind of model, where by those who take up the responsibility to take care of the children live with them in these homes, taking up all the responsibilities related to proper to upbringing. We don’t work there, we live there.
Since 2010, the home is being managed by the Asociación Una mano que ayuda (Association of a hand that helps). It is an organization founded to give refuge as well as juridical and administrative assistance to the homes and other places that dedicate themselves to the care of infants. All of us who live in the homes and offer different kinds of services are socials to the entity.
Seeing the growth and the process of development that these children undergo after months and years of pain, mistreatment and abuses, is itself a gratifying experience. During their stay with us –that could be extended if need be, we visit their biological families to assess their conditions, and from this, we discover that there are so many families that for a number of reasons, have no capacity to be parents. Without judging their present situation, many are at the same time victims of traumatic past. Initially, called to be happy and build strong ties, they find themselves hurt and injured in a manner difficult to reverse.
All the children participate in a weekly psychological therapy forum. Listening to their stories about life of slavery, hunger and beatings in their own family environment, generates situations of grave pain. Reversing, curing, consoling them assisting them to part from these stories is our mission. We must break the stories of slavery in order to inspire a process of resilience -the capacity to overcome negative conditions with love.
The children and adolescents graduate from the homes with the help of relatives that are ready to give them better living conditions; others graduate through adoption; and finally many graduate in autonomous processes, with their own means and more challenges than any other young people because they have to overcome their condition without the help of relatives. All the same, today we are witnesses that they are capable of finding meaning out of their pains and live in a mature way, assuming the challenges that life presents to them.
Currently we are three SVDs residing in the Mother Theresa of Calcutta home. We live with one group of adolescents; we animate formation workshops as well as being responsible for the management and the administration of the home. We play, share and live our mission helping these children and adolescents to discover that God has plans for their lives.
Por: Victor Hirch svd (Argentina-Misiones)
President of the association: Una Mano Que Ayuda.
Coordinator Mother Theresa of Calcutta home