“A true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”, Laudato Si’, #49
Pope Francis’ words have been inspiring the work of the Famvin Homeless Alliance since its inception four years ago, and they have become even more relevant as the Christian Family celebrates the “Season of Creation”. The season started on the 1st September, “the Day of Prayer for Creation” and ends on the 4th October on the occasion of the feast of St Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of Ecology.
This year’s theme is “A home for all? Renewing the Oikos of God” which resonates even more with our overarching goal of ending homelessness: one house at a time. “Oikos” is the Greek word for home. “By rooting our theme in the concept of home, we point to the integral web of relationships that sustain the well-being of the Earth”, explaining the reasoning behind this celebration.
This is a recurring theme in various “13 Houses” Campaign projects, as many have either a sustainability element or are targeted to displaced populations because of natural disasters and climate change. One example is the Vincentian Foundation work in the Philippines supporting people displaced by typhoons in search of a safer place and providing opportunities for integral development and systemic change.
Some projects aim to mitigate the effects of climate change. For example, in Germantown, Philadelphia, “Vincent Homes”, a joint initiative of the CM and Community Solutions (a not-for-profit led by FHA Commission member Rosanne Hagerty), works with a solar energy “net zero” housing model. This converts houses to 100% solar electricity and leases them to low-income families at affordable rents and zero electric utility costs. “By unlocking the power of low-cost, mission-aligned investments, we can invest in a future that includes stable, net-zero housing across all of our communities”, the Project explains. In Ghana, the Daughters of Charity have built a biogas digester in their “13 Houses” projects to transform human waste into gas for cooking at their Vocational Training Centre.
Our volunteer ambassadors are also following this spirit. Fr Álvaro Tamblay is joining the fight against an iron and copper mining project in the North of Chile. In a recent article on the Famvin website he said:
“The future of this space, unique in our country, cannot be mortgaged to the new generations; we have the wonderful opportunity to be the generation that rescues and cares forever, together with all the inhabitants of these areas, of our natural biodiverse heritage […]We also have to advocate so that the voice of those who are always hidden or pressured, can feel free and speak up freely, as well as promoting and creating a culture where we all feel jointly responsible for what it means to take a stand for the cause of the Kingdom, the justice and love for our Common home.”
“Let us keep not only the poor of the future in mind,” Pope Francis says, “but also today’s poor, whose life on this earth is brief and who cannot keep on waiting”. The FHA and Vincentians around the world continue to make both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor heard in our fight against homelessness, through Vincentian collaboration.