A Muslim lives the charism of Lavigerie
We share with you a marvel of God’s action, the presence of his Kingdom among us. Yahya Sall, a young Muslim from Mauritania, fights for the rights of undocumented and out-of-school children, as well as planting trees in his neighbourhood, supporting migrants and foreigners, widows and children. Through our sisters in Nouakchott, he has become a reference person in the neighbourhood for those who are voiceless and without support. He himself says that he is now a missionary: “What touches the human being also touches me”.
Sensitive to the suffering of others, recognising that he himself is limited, he believes that God is beyond our limits and that with Him everything is possible. When a poor family or a sick mother turns to him, he replies that he personally has no means of helping them; but he promises to tell all the people of good will he meets along the way, and if, by God’s grace, someone decides to help them, he is available to take them to various clinics for examinations, to pharmacies to buy medicines, without charging them money for transport, in gratuity with his deep desire to do good.
He reminds us of Peter’s words: “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I have I give to you: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, arise and walk” (Acts 3:6). Like Peter, Yahya lifts up the sick, helps them stand up, gently puts them in his taxi and leads them to either the MSOLA community or to the Church, and courageously manages to have them treated. We, the sisters, marvel at his heart filled with divine goodness and we rely on him for further collaboration.
Our story with Yahya
In 2014 Fatimata, Yahya’s mother, was working at the Children’s Home, where Sr. Celina Natanek met her when visiting the women attending the Poular (Fulani language) course that Celine had organised for the mothers.
The following year, we needed an Arabic teacher for the foreign children at the Maison du Quartier. Celina spoke to Fatimata about this and she proposed her son. And so the collaboration began. Yahya proved to be a young man true to his word and his commitment. He was simple and loving towards the children and had a listening and open attitude. After a while he joined the Christian-Muslim group in the parish and was the first Muslim member. Very active, today he is part of the organising committee.
With the help of his mother, he started the association “Soleil des enfants” (Children’s Sun), to enable schooling for disadvantaged children. He obtained two rooms in a public school where he and his friends taught the children. Yahya found places for undocumented children in different schools. Thus, a closer collaboration started between the Maison du Quartier, the MSOLA community and the association Soleil des enfants. Sports days, outings and training activities were organised with the children and the supervisors of the association Soleil des enfants. They were also very active in the organisation of the Muslim Encounter Day to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the parish.
On several occasions the sisters have visited Le Soleil des enfants and we have witnessed their commitment, e.g., sharing meals with the poorest people during Ramadan and the festivals.
The collaboration was strengthened by the tree planting project. The first 50 trees were planted with the means at hand, and the young people showed perseverance, commitment, and courage, without quite knowing what they were getting into. They raised awareness in the people of the neighbourhood on the importance of trees, the management of the project, and the need to take responsibility for the future of society and of the earth. We even worked with them on the document Laudato Si. One girl decided to study agronomy after the experience of planting the trees.
Our community continues to accompany the young people in their discernment of projects. Sr. Marie Ange organised a training on Income Generating Activities (IGA) with Mr. Lo, a volunteer. She accompanied them in planting 100 trees and in their project to plant 100 more this year in the village. One girl was trained for 4 months to maintain the poultry project. They took the time to discern the location and as a group they are carrying out the Chicken Coop Project. In September 2022, the 56 hens were 4 months old. As the financial support to start the project is finished, each member contributes to feeding the hens and maintaining the roost. They plan to have an incubator, sell some eggs to support the project, and keep others to be incubated and get chicks.
These young people are setting an example in their neighbourhood. Together with the Christian-Muslim group and the sisters, Yahya discovered the precarious conditions in which many of the migrants in his neighbourhood were living and he approached the IOM for the benefit of the migrants. He became an apostle. He would like to twin up with lay people who work with MSOLA in other countries to learn from each other’s experiences.
The financial support offered to these young people was only for the essentials: the purchase of trees, chicks and food; and the training of Binta and of the members of the association. Travelling and other expenses were paid by themselves. This collaboration is for us MSOLA a source of hope and an opening to the peripheries.
May the God of Hope help us to cast our nets into deep waters for abundant fishing in the service of the Kingdom.