Serving those on the margins and the periphery is not a matter of individual choice, but a requirement of the Gospel. We are all invited to “touch the flesh of Christ in he who is outcast, hungry, thirsty, naked, imprisoned, ill, unemployed, persecuted, in search of refuge, abused, disgraced, despised…” /Pope Francis/. We are familiar with the protocol on which we will be judged: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40). The Gospel never specified who those in trouble are, what their nationality is or their religion, whether they are male or female… We are left with the essential question: Did we do a good deed or did we fail to do it? “Whoever hardens their heart towards their neighbours has fallen away from God, even though they outwardly appear ‘pious’. Whoever does not close their heart to the suffering of their neighbour is close to God, even when they consider and call themselves an atheist.” /C. Schönborn/. Everyone is invited to discover their own path and “go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the ‘peripheries’” (EG 20).
When we completed and opened the boys’ house of our Boarding house in Nawinda (https://heartforzambia.com/zavrsena-kuca-za-djecake-u-misiji-nawinda/), the girls, reserved and timid and shy as the usually are, asked me: “Father, when will we have our house?” Soon, I told them, with a lump in my throat because our bank account for the construction of the second house was completely empty at that moment. However, the kind hearts of good people, especially one dear and kind man, opened up, and the construction of a house for our girls began. Thanks to the kindness of lovely people from Croatia, but also to the effort and organization of our parish priest, father Theophilius, we have built and furnished the house. It wasn’t easy because in Nawinda, nothing is easy. There are no roads, no electricity, no clean water, clothes, shoes, or enough food, medicine… just sand everywhere. There is no stone for construction… however, we managed to complete the task we had started (https://heartforzambia.com/nawindagirls-house-in-nawinda-mission/). The first girls will move in on 14 September. The Boarding house was blessed and opened on 20 August 2023. The Boarding house was blessed by father John. Young people, children and the elderly showed their joy and gratitude for the opening of the Boarding house through an exceptionally prepared afternoon and evening programme. The whole Nawinda danced and sang that day.
The residence houses 100 students – 50 boys and 50 girls. In the following days, the house for the Boarding house superintendent (care taker), Mr. Siabenzu, will be completed. These girls will sleep in beds, use showers and toilets for the first time… but most importantly: these children are able to attend school, once again thanks to the kindness and love of many. Thank you! The children still need our love and help in order to have a dignified life and continue their education.
The Boarding house is named Blessed Carlo Acutis, who passed away at the age of 15. He was beatified by Pope Francis in 2020.
We offer thanks from the bottom of our hearts to all of you who have boldly embarked on the journey towards this “periphery” with father Boris and me. A Church that has gone out and encountered the poor, and which experienced accidents and got dirty along the way, is more precious to Pope Francis than a Church that is closed in its own security and comfort. A Christian who stands still, says the Pope, is no good, because that which is at a standstill, that which does not move, spoils like stagnant water. The Pope invites and encourages the whole Church to “boldly take the initiative” (EG 24). This means becoming involved in the people’s concrete reality – their everyday life, to the greatest extent possible, not occasionally or marginally, but by deeply empathizing and sharing misery, embracing human life, “touching the suffering flesh of Christ” (EG 24), because reality is better understood from the periphery than from the centre. Pope Francis’ Church paradigm is a missionary Church (EG 15), a Church permanently in a state of mission (EG 25), a Church that goes forth to the peripheries, the peripheries of human existence (EG); its first task is sensitivity to the marginalized and the poor, because a poor person is not just an object of love, but a subject, a Teacher, because an encounter with the poor is an encounter with the “Poor” – with He who could say that He had nowhere to lay His head. Nawinda is a periphery in every sense of the word.