By Darrion M Narine
Programme Coordinator, CCSJ/AMMR, rcsocialjustice.org
This Sunday we celebrate the 107th World Day for Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) which “is always an occasion to express concern for different vulnerable people on the move; to pray for them as they face many challenges; and to increase awareness about the opportunities that migration offers” (https://migrants-refugees.va). The Church has been celebrating WDMR since 1914.
To date, there are approximately 26.4 million refugees across the globe who are displaced and searching for belonging and safety. They continue to look for better opportunities outside of their country, but they are often met with discrimination and humiliation.
Let us take a moment to put ourselves in the shoes of those who have been displaced.
Imagine being in a pandemic with no sense of security and entering into an alien land with no family or friends. As a migrant/refugee, your life’s journey becomes a fight for survival, not only physically but also mentally.
Your home, your job and the security of friends and family are taken from you in an instant. That is the reality of not only many adults but also many children from Venezuela right here in Trinidad and Tobago.
The reality is, when resources are bountiful, Trinidadians are ready to accommodate anyone from anywhere across the globe. We often claim we are the “World’s Friendliest People”, which I can agree with to some degree. After all, God is a Trini.
However, during this pandemic, resources are limited, and we are unfortunately seeing a darker side of our society and people. Many people have bred a culture of xenophobia out of fear and little faith.
Naturally, the competition for scarce resources would breed some level of animosity, especially when there is a lot of ignorance, but the actions from some people are anti-humanity.
We cannot allow ourselves to dehumanise those on the margins. As Jesus said in Matthew 25:42-44: “For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.”
We must be careful that we do not become spiritually blind to the needs of others. We must also be cautious that we don’t begin ‘throwing stones’ at those who are already on the margins of our society. These are our brothers and sisters in God and if we do not see them as such, we will lose sight of our own spiritual compass.
Just like us, migrants and refugees are mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters, who have come to T&T to build a better life for their family. Many of them are also prepared to help build this nation. We must see them as our equal because the only way out of this pandemic is to join hands and work together.
The migrant and refugee population have a lot more to offer our country and we should be taking steps towards a stronger push for integration and unity.
As Pope Francis says, we are called to welcome, integrate, protect, and promote a culture of togetherness and family.
I ask that you continue to pray for the migrant and refugee population and that you continue to support all those who are in need.
May the Holy Spirit be your guide and may the love of Christ be with you all.
SOCIAL JUSTICE QUOTE
FOR THE WEEK
“In the face of the pandemic and its social consequences, many risk losing hope. In this time of uncertainty and anguish, I invite everyone to welcome the gift of hope that comes from Christ. It is He who helps us navigate the tumultuous waters of sickness, death and injustice, which do not have the last word over our final destination.”
– Pope Francis Coronavirus Catechesis
CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee