Conflict increases the vulnerability of those who are already vulnerable, especially children. A child needs a family and a community that provide a nurturing and protective environment. The effects of war on the young can be devastating.
But the resilience of boys and girls must not be underestimated. Well-targeted care can help them recover, cease to be victims of war, and take possession of their lives.
And later on, talking about restoring the mental health of children who have suffered through a war, the report adds:
This consists of creating the most favourable conditions for victims to recover by themselves. Most often, it is necessary only to restore a sense of normalcy: through care and nurturing, by meeting basic needs, restoring normal routines and structures, and providing recreational activities (staging plays, role-playing exercises, games, sports, drawing, etc.).
This means that normal activities that are positive and healthy play a vital role in places such as where we are now.
Thus, for example, the Latin Church in Baghdad got help to build a sports center for youth and children. But we will speak about this initiative at another time.
I would now like to dedicate a few lines to relate the apostolate of a young Italian volunteer who comes every year to give us a hand.
He is a clown magician, Marco Rodari, who belongs to the association “I colori del sorriso” (“The colors of smile”) comprising of one hundred young people, who on the weekends go to hospitals to perform “clown therapy” free of charge, with the purpose of bringing a smile on the faces of those who suffer.
Marco spends his holidays (both winter and summer) to bring joy to children, youth and elderly in various IVE missions in the Middle East, which include the countries of Egypt, Gaza and Iraq. He also looks for material aid for these missions during the year, conducting shows in Italy.
This year, he came for two weeks in August and the main beneficiaries of his spectacle were the home for the elderly called “Divine Providence,” where he did a show for everyone and where he visited the elderly who were bedridden in their rooms, the home for disabled children run by the sisters of Mother Teresa whom he visited daily, and the children and youth of our cathedral church.
Every other day he met a group of our children to teach them magic tricks, and eventually these children performed a show for the other youngsters in the church and for the disabled children of the sisters of Mother Teresa.
This means that not only was he an apostle of joy but he also helped our children to be the same. It was exciting to see the faces of those kids when they understood the good they could do by bringing a smile on the faces of those who suffer.
As Father Carlo Gnocchi memorably teaches, the fight against pain is complementary to human procreation and Christian redemption.
It seems that the struggle and victory against pain is a second birth, no less great and painful than the first, and whoever gives back health, integrity and serenity of life to a child is no less a father than he who gave that life to the child for the first time.
And caring for those who suffer is also a participation in Christ’s work of redemption because
“it makes present the effects of redemption, and brings freedom even to the material realm, and it tends to restore the harmony, order and physical well-being which man had before the original fall and to which he now tends to with all the forces of his being.”
For this reason:
Caring for the sick, the arts of medicine, charity to the suffering and the struggle against all causes of human suffering, are a real and continuing material redemption, which form part of the “total” redemption by Christ, from which they draw forth every effort and dignity.
That is why the Savior, though sent for a precise supernatural mission, wished to establish the unmistakable characteristics of his Messianic work in this way: “the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised and the poor have the good news preached to them”(Mt 11:5), and he tirelessly wanted to journey all over Palestine to seek out and gather all kinds of sick and suffering persons to confer on them that “strength that emanated from Him and healed them all “(Luke 6, 19).
For all this we thank Marco and all those who help us through him!
God bless you!
Fr. Luis Montes, IVE