“Marie-José, I need you. I have just had a phone call from Secours Catholique who will accompany a young African girl who will be staying with us for a day or two.”
The young African arrives. She lives in the same hallway as me. At one point, I walk past her room, see her door wide open. She is sitting on the bed and rummaging through her backpack. Beside her, the unfolded sheets. ” Can I help you? We’ll make the bed together.” She warmly thanks: “I did not know this method of making the bed”.
Then she tells her story: “I am an orphan–no father and mother. I lived with my grandfather and went to school until my grandfather died. There was no one left to pay and I found myself on the street. I was placed in an institution. In our country, we tell which children to be cared for by a certain church but I wanted to remain Catholic. One day, in this institution, a woman arrived who said: ‘I want to help you and find a solution so that you can get out of here.’ She came back with a passport. We took the plane. I knew that in Paris there was the Eiffel Tower, but when I arrived, I did not see it. This woman said to me: ‘Give me your passport, I will go and buy you something to eat.’ She never came back and I slept on the street.”
I asked her if she was bothered by anyone?
“No, I was protected by an old alcoholic woman who threatened young people with her bottle. Then I asked someone who had a phone if he could contact associations. This is how Secours Catholique took me in.”
I asked her: “Now, do you know where you are”?
“I don’t know, I still can’t see the Eiffel Tower! I feel good with you because you understand me. Nobody tells me where I am.”
I then think of Françoise Loran, who is with me on this vacation. Having worked with minor migrants, she will be able to explain to her the procedure for asking for help.
“Now I know that I am safe with you and Secours Catholique. When they give me a phone, you will be the first one I will call because you are the first one who encouraged me.”
She will follow the 3rd class. Last week, she phoned me “How are you? It’s up to me to take care of you. (she now sees me as a grandmother). I count on your prayer, every day, my sister!”
And I too, every day, I pray for you. To me, you were never a stranger.
Good News of “Give and take”!
Sister Marie-Jose Blain, from the Marseille community