PARAGUAY, HOUSE MOTHER OF TUPÃRENDA, Ani Souberlich •
WhatsApp’s messages are pouring in. Twenty young people in quarantine, twenty young people recently released from the juvenile prison, where they were mostly for robberies done to calm their hunger, twenty young people who with great commitment and even greater hope began a path of human development and job training at the House Mother of Tuparenda (CMT – Casa Madre de Tuparenda), are hungry. Not only hunger for lack of food, but hunger for closeness, comfort, justice and peace. They calm their hunger with hundreds of messages from WhatsApp to their educators. “Teacher, I miss CMT, I miss CMT food.” —
We have to get and pay for all those meals
“We feel the urgency of close accompaniment to the families and the most vulnerable groups, not only with food, but also with assistance for an effective economic recovery in the short, medium and long term,” wrote the Paraguayan bishops in a message, broadcast on April 21, to the country and its authorities entitled “Give them something to eat (Mk 6:37).
Fr. Pedro Kühlcke, Ani Souberlich and the ten employees of CMT, each with his salary cut in half to maintain the work, give food, physically and spiritually, to the twenty young people and their families. But they do not know how to pay the expenses.
The first call for help and an invitation from the Pope
Exactly one year ago, in May 2019, as director of the Mother House of Tuparenda, I made my first call for help to keep the doors of our house open and thus continue to help transform the lives of twenty adolescents, who had found here the support they needed to dream of a better quality of life for themselves and their families. Thanks to the generosity of so many people inside and outside of Paraguay, thanks to Schoenstatters in solidarity from Bolivia, Spain, Switzerland, Germany and our Paraguay, we were able to do it. The twenty young men at that time were all able to finish the program. In November, Father Pedro was invited to a congress of prison ministry in the Vatican and he was able to tell Pope Francisco about CMT, and he gave him “our” book “Libertad en prisión“ (Freedom in jail, text in english available at schoenstatt.org) and some typical chipas from Paraguay. Some donations continued to arrive when we already received support from the Ministry of Labor.
A new call for solidarity
Today I dare to make another S.O.S. call to keep our house open and, above all, to hold high the confidence and hope that each of the twenty new adolescent participants have in CMT.
As of March 13, 2020, the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare issued health measures for the entire country, including quarantine by Covid-19. Since then, each educator assists his or her student through messages on WhatsApp for those who have a cell phone and those who do not, manage to borrow a neighbor’s or cousin’s cell phone and report to their educator (no one has a computer), being able, through representative photos, to rate themselves according to their daily performance in fulfilling their Individual Development Plan (IDP).
And, as children in need of being congratulated, encouraged, supported and not abandoned, they send their photos performing their daily tasks and with much pride they count:
- today I swept the yard of my house…
- I’m taking care of my little brother today because my mom went out…
- today it was my turn to cook…
- today I wash the silverware after lunch…
They show what they did with videos and photos. In the videos (which for the protection of minors we cannot publish) you can see a young man making his bed with admirable perfection. We see a simple, clean and tidy wardrobe. We see one who cleans the courtyard of his house with such dynamism that it looks like a dance, and another who washes the silverware until it shines.
“Hendy koape hina”
Not being able to attend CMT daily means for each of them not receiving the daily meals: breakfast, mid-morning, lunch and afternoon snack. It means hunger.
These are difficult and uncertain times for everyone, but even more so for these young people who express themselves daily in their WhatsApp messages:
- “Hendy koape hina” (a Guarani expression that expresses that there is already a need in the house)
- There’s barely enough to eat, we’re still living off the food you gave me there.
From the donations received, we were able to feed the new participants in March and so far. “For now they are doing well, but each time it costs a little more to contain them, and that they maintain the quarantine,” Father Pedro Kühlcke commented.
Truly, Crown Her.
Days ago, as Schoenstatt Family from Paraguay, we again gave the crown to our Queen, in whom we place our confidence and hope. Countless coronations were made in many other countries, but that is only part of it. To crown is a covenant, and covenant means: “Nothing without you, nothing without us”.
She needs our hands; she needs our capacity to feel compassion for the most needed, which is the measure of our love. This love does not measure nor does it spare in giving and giving of itself, this love that does not wait until it is over to go out to meet the one who has less, this love that says to the Blessed Mother: count on us. It is a love that demonstrates with deeds that we truly love her, that we truly crown her.
Give them something to eat.
CMT needs your compassion again, which is the size of the love you carry in your heart, and I am sure that, like the heart of our Queen, it will not let itself be won over in generosity so that CMT once again keeps its doors open.
“The condition of vulnerability and the fragility of a large sector of the population is visible and will be aggravated in the coming months and we cannot yet measure its scope and seriousness. Hunger is a current clamour, which we cannot ignore”, the bishops of Paraguay continue, pointing out the solidarity of the citizens that have partly replaced the initiatives of the national government. Citizens like the educators of the Mother House of Tuparenda, “to fulfill”, as the bishops of Paraguay ask, “from our limitations, the command of the Lord, who said to his disciples: ‘Give them something to eat’ (Mk 6, 37)”.
Do we act now, out of love, in solidarity with those who suffer?
To give – because they really need it:
Recipient: Schönstatt-Patres International e. V.
IBAN: DE91 4006 0265 0003 1616 26
Intended Use: P. Pedro Kühlcke, Casa Madre de Tupãrenda
More information – Official Website in English: www.fundaprovapy.org