In his April 2020 Letter to Popular Movements, Pope Francis says to them: “you are social poets because, from the forgotten peripheries where you live, you create admirable solutions for the most pressing problems afflicting the marginalized”.
As States declared a state of emergency to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, many officials highly recommended social distancing and mandated a lockdown of the population: everyone should stay at home.
Like many of you within the Vincentian Family, the FHA Team immediately started working on these difficult questions: What about the homeless, the too many who do not have a place to call home, who can no longer count on services and on the good will of people? What about those who will have nothing to eat, because of job loss, if the head of family doesn’t go into the streets to beg, sell or work-for-pay? But most importantly, we asked ourselves: What must be done?
And the response came by way of the multiple initiatives from Vincentian Family groups working in those “forgotten peripheries”, who were willing to continue their services to people experiencing homelessness and to attend to the urgent emerging needs of children and families living on the streets, slum dwellers, dumpster dwellers, and refugees.
They needed financial support as the number of people they cared for grew quickly and continuously. This was especially true as the particular vulnerability of homeless groups became palpable and emergency needs arose in many 13 Houses Campaign project sites, and in other places where Vincentians are present.
FHA’s 13 Houses Campaign, launched in November 2018, was called to creatively adapt in order to be able to respond to that call of the marginalized. We did so through an appeal and an internal and external fundraiser which has yielded $ 70,000.
The beneficiaries will receive aid in May and June: food products that allow them to feed their families for a month, and in some cases, financial support for utilities, medicine, health services, and hygiene products.
The countries helped through this COVID Response are:
- Africa (7): Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Tanzania.
- America (5): Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru (2 projects).
- Asia (1): Philippines.
- Europe and the Middle East (3): Lebanon, Romania, Ukraine.
What to do to find “solutions for the most pressing problems afflicting the marginalized”? Put out the fire of hunger and illness at this time of emergency, focus on systemic solutions to homelessness through collaboration, and continue to transform one life at a time, so that everyone has a place to call home and a stake in their community.
While this was the first fire to put out, we are also committed to focusing on livelihoods and homelessness prevention by continuing with 13 Houses projects once the crisis is over. But the crisis is not over yet, we will continue fundraising for these emergency initiatives, and we need your help to echo our appeal.
We trust in God’s providence. With your support, together we can become “social poets” and do way more, beyond the limits of our budget and the pandemic circumstances. Social distancing and stay-at-home orders then become a contagion of love and human proximity with those in the peripheries, whose “home” is inexistent, unreliable or provisional.
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