By Fr. Efren de Guzman, svd
All over Africa refugees and displaced persons are seeking help. Fr. Efren recently attended a meeting to help those involved in refugee work.
May 9: I arrived in Lusaka, the capital city of Angola, and visited the refugees between the frontiers of Angola and Zambia. I’ve seen some Hutu and Tutsi and some Zairian refugees. Loren Kabila, the new President of Congo, expelled President Mobuto and changed the name of Zaire to Republic of Congo and the people said that what happened to Zaire was just a change of dictators.
May 11: In the evening we started our meeting for Refugee Service for Southern Africa. Our first speaker was the Papal Nuncio Archbishops Prabhu from India. He said that all pastoral services must start from prayerful meditation on the Word of God and refreshment at His Eucharistic Banquet. Otherwise, quoting Mother Teresa of Calcutta, he saidwe would be without a clear perspective. He said that we need to beg the Holy Spirit to tell us what it is that He wants us to do.
May 12: Country Reports
A threat that the war might start in Northeast of Angola. Some deserters of the government forces and of UNITA are making trouble because of some misunderstanding concerning their status and conditions.
The political will of the government and the opposition is something to admired. One of the signs are the new trees growing in and outside the cities.
The only First World country in Africa. There is a huge influx of refugees to South Africa where hey want seek asylum and a better life.
Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia
These countries are still in turmoil due to political military instability.
May 13: We shared our experiences of working with the United Nations Commission of Human Rights in our respective countries. Most of our comments were negative. UN workers are good in making reports but in reality they are not working as well as they should. Example: UNAVEM is spending a million dollar a day in Angola but they couldn’t produce enough receipts for what they are supposed to have spent. Some machines arrived for the task of de-mining but they are all kaput, out of order.
May 14: Reverend Shirley de Wolfe talked about her experiences in working with the child survivors of landmines. She asked the children what are the things that are temporary in their lives. They commented about their clothes, schools, playmates, houses. And she asked again about the things that really last and a child with legs, named Pako, responded: The Friendship of Jesus. There was a long silence and they all cried as she hugged the child.
May 14, afternoon: Sr. Patricia Startuo, our coordinator for Refugee Service, talked about Peace Building and Reconciliation. She referred to Micah 6:8: God had showed you what is good, to do justice, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with our God. She challenged us as refugee volunteers to continue our work for justice to love tenderly and to walk humbly with our God. For Reconciliation, she said, “The ultimate reason for wanting to be reconciled with one another is the conviction that God loves us forever without conditions. And that if we do not reject this love, we will have the capacity to forgive.”
June 24: We are organizing our displaced people, especially the farmers, to help them form a cooperative and to legalize their land and to find markets for their goods. Our big problem is that the majority of them are living in a place where there is no regular supply of water, except rainwater. Our elder name Jose, 62 old, said, “A small measure of faith can produce a large measure of fruits.” And our cathecist, Saco, the leper, seconded his thought. “Yes, what is the key to our journey through life? When we know what Christ wants us to be and do, we must take the first step of obedience.”
June 29: We have a big celebration in Cacuaco – the birthday of St. John the Baptist. With the help of fishermen we were able to have our procession on the sea by using their boats. Some older devotees threw some bread and wine in the sea as we clapped our hands in singing to remember their ancestors.
July 1: My deep gratitude for your prayers and support for our mission work, especially for the young children who survived landmines, the children of internal refuges whose parents are unemployed or have no land and the orphans.
An inner Song in you
Sometimes not heard at all
But within your heart it’s whispering
Of something beyond words to say.
It whispers: feel and remember
For gratitude is the memory of your heart
For the times and moments to begin
And to renew the afterglow.
An inner song in You
Yearning to sing aloud
As your heart beats; to dance
As you sings and live the song of Love.