For a long time I have wanted to be part of a solidarity group, but with one condition, (that is what I thought), that they would be children.
Quite a long spell passed until one day a friend of mine, Laura, said to me: “there are sisters who go to Mass with a group of children and they live in the Matadero”. I got their phone number and on the Children’s Day of 2010 I went to bring along some little presents and to see for myself. Little did I think that that day would be so important in my life!
I told them that I was a psychologist and that I would like to help wherever I could. They called me and I began to go one day a week. Everything was so strange at the beginning. It was my first experience with religious; I am not very religious; moreover anti-religious and distrusting.
But strange things began to happen to me. I was sad or depressed and I went to the room which is called Carlos Mujica where the children and the sisters were, and I returned well and happy. I went with 10 and returned with 100?!
One day I saw the film “The Holy Cross” and I realised that the Passionists Fathers were the first to offer shelter in their parish to the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. I began to ask questions, find out things, all my doubts were directed mainly to one sister, Gladys, and she in her gentle way, her patience and humility, helped me to get to know God. The God that is good, compassionate, understanding, forgiving and full of love, who always has the door open for all of us; and not the God to be feared, who is always ready to chastise us for our sins, severe and at times cruel, unjust, that frightens and drives us away.
In this way I began to integrate myself in the Project “Allow the children to come to me”. It is an educational project, which, with the help of teachers and voluntary workers, has as its aim “to take the children off the streets”. There are 120 children between 3 and 13 that during the week get a snack, help with school work, physical education, computer skills, music, song, along with help for the children and their families. (This is my work and the service I offer, which I do) but, like the sisters, I am wherever I am needed). The objective of the project is to help to recuperate the dignity of the children of God: as simple as that. What a challenge: poor children, marginalised, with no space within the system, who are hungry, cold, badly treated and without assistance; links in a historic chain that never seems to end.
With the sisters we decided that the challenge would be to cut the chain, and we are willing to do what it takes to give the children a different option to what the street offers them, and fight to free them. This means a huge transformation. We have discovered that more than half of our children between the ages of 8 and 11 are illiterate and many more semi-illiterate. This is the result of the schooling they receive where the objective should be that at the end of the primary cycle all children should be able to read, write and understand, because otherwise it is impossible for them to pass to the secondary level. If they cannot reach this they will be condemned to a life of work as slaves, to prostitution, delinquency and the abuse of women who are only considered to be useful if they have many children.
This is all part of the system here but we try to keep close to them and we do all we can for them. This is a huge challenge, and I would say the challenge, but there is somebody who does not allow us to give up, on the contrary we get the strength we need every day.
These children help to make sense of my life and the sisters helped me to discover this. In my 56 years of life it is the first time I can say: “thank you God for walking with us” or “thank you God for the gift of life and your life shared with these little ones” This love, this recognition hidden deep in me and unknown to me, makes me begin to feel that God really exists, that He is in them and I am with them.
The Passionist Sisters are my daily Paschal Mystery: from the darkness to the light… from death to life. In them is founded my vocation of commitment with the poor and needy, and my ideology that a better world is possible. The sisters follow the path of Jesus and I want to do the same.
Now I go twice a week. What I get from the barrio and the sisters, I would never get in the surgery. It is impossible for me to think of my life without them and I thank God for coming to me in that way, which is the best.
Alejandra Primavera, Psychologist and a Passionist at heart.