31 Jan 2023 A little piece of Liberia in Madrid
The We Are Like You initiative and the community of Sisters Hospitallers of Monrovia have a lot of friends and benefactors who help spread the word about our project to rehabilitate women with mental illness and raise funds. The San Benito Menni Parish in Madrid is one of them, and in addition to organizing various events during 2022 to raise awareness of our project, they recently sent a donation of EUR 3,971 raised on those occasions.
The parish is located in the south of the Madrid neighborhood of Carabanchel, next to the M-40 and under the patronage of the Italian saint founder of the Sisters Hospitallers, and seems to have received from him his tireless spirit, as can be seen in its intense activity on social networks such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as on its website. It is a relatively recent parish, which last October turned 13 years old and until two years ago occupied a temporary facility, before being located in a beautiful newly built temple.
“This is a new neighborhood with young families, and that translates into a very active parish with many young people doing things,” explains Pablo Garcia, a Caritas volunteer from the parish and one of the driving forces behind the Liberia campaign. It is an environment in which there is a certain level of welfare, working middle class people, and therefore the help that Caritas can provide and the generosity of the people of the parish are sufficient to meet the needs of the area, and we can even do more. We saw that in addition to attending to our environment we could tackle some solidarity project in other places, and the parish priest, Jaime Alier, put us in contact with a family that has ties with Liberia for work issues. Through Ángel and Sonia we learned about the work being done in Monrovia by the Sisters Hospitallers and we decided to launch a campaign with two objectives: to show that there are situations of need there and to raise funds”.
On April 23, on the occasion of the celebration of the feast of St. Benedict Menni (April 24), they organized a “charity coffee” in which they could learn more about the reality of the African country from Angel, and on June 5 they received in the parish our dear sister Inca, who has dedicated 30 years of her life to the service in our community of Liberia and who explained what the Hospitaller Sisters do here. Sister Inca’s talk, music by Luis Guitarra and a “charity cocktail” brought together a good number of faithful who did not hesitate to offer their generous contribution to We Are Like You, just as the children and youth of the catechesis groups did between October and December with the game “Pon color a mi vida” (Add color to my life).
The idea was to raise funds to pay for 100 days of treatment for one of our patients, and to do so, they made a black and white puzzle with her image. Each day of catechesis, the children could give some money from their savings. When a group collected 30 €, they bought a piece of the puzzle, in color, and when the rest of the groups had each bought their own piece, the image was complete in color and the objective had been achieved.
In this way, in addition to encouraging the children to make small efforts for a good purpose, they motivate them to fulfill Jesus’ command to love others and generate in the families the opportunity to talk about the needs and sufferings of other people.
As a result of this work of dissemination and awareness are the close to EUR 4,000 that the generosity of the community of the members of San Benito Menni has wanted to allocate to help defray the treatment of our patients, and that from Monrovia we thank them wholeheartedly.
But the support of this Madrid parish to We Are Like You does not stop there. “Our idea is to continue campaigning for Liberia. On Fridays, 100 young people and teenagers gather in the parish and we do some activity with them,” Pablo tells us. Our parish priest was in Liberia in October, and in one of these meetings he will give a testimony of what he experienced there and of his meetings with the Hospitaller Sisters and other communities in that country.” Mikel Tellaeche, head of Programs at Saint Benedict Menni Health, will also come to the parish at some point to talk to them about our work and his experiences in the African country. “And since Angel and Sonia open the doors of their home in Monrovia, we do not rule out that at some point someone from the parish could go there to spend a few days and see that reality. We have it there, on the horizon”, says Pablo.
While that moment of welcoming our friends in Monrovia arrives, it fills us with joy to know that in the San Benito Menni parish in Madrid we are so loved, and that there is a little corner there, the “Rincón de Liberia”, where there is a little piece of us.