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Wednesday 24 July 2019
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Letters to the Editor

From refugee to entrepreneur

THE EDITOR: World Refugee Day will be observed on Thursday which, as the UN states, “marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee...The time is now to show that the global public stands with refugees.”

Let us recognise their strength, courage and perseverance and play our part to build a world in which people can live in peace. UN High Commissioner for Refugees states that of the 68.5 million people around the world who have been forced from their homes, 25.4 million are refugees and 52 per cent of the world’s refugees and displaced are children.

I invite you to join members of the church’s Ministry for Migrants and Refugees (AMMR) for a screening of the documentary Soufra in commemoration of World Refugee Day. The screening takes place at MovieTowne, Port of Spain, today from 7.30 pm. There will be an opportunity for audience participation afterwards.

Proceeds from the screening (tickets cost $150) will go to support AMMR’s work in parishes, as we seek to develop and implement strategies to welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees who have come to our shores seeking peace and an opportunity to live with dignity.

Soufra “follows the inspirational story of Mariam Shaar, a generational refugee who has spent her entire life in a refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon. Mariam sets out against all odds to change her fate by launching a successful catering business. She then expands it into a food truck business with a diverse team of refugee women.”

The documentary “follows her struggle in uniting the female community with this business venture.” She involves women from Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and Lebanon in her business.

Soufra was nominated for Best Positive Documentary at the 2018 Cannes Positive Cinema Week. It offers hope to all of us who are involved in the struggle to ensure that everyone has a place at the table. It is a story about the indomitable human spirit that will rise up even in the face of adversity.

In his column in the Catholic News last week, Archbishop Jason Gordon raised significant points for reflection, particularly in relation to ways in which we can meet the needs of Venezuelans who have come to our shores. And read Pope Francis’ message for the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2019 which will be commemorated on September 29.

His message, released on May 27 on the theme “It is not just about migrants,” is divided into seven sub-themes. It is not just about migrants: it is also about our fears; about charity; about our humanity; about not excluding anyone; about putting the last in first place; about the whole person; about all people; about building the city of God and man.

He said “migration is not just a matter of migrants. It’s about the aspirations and needs common to all people, but from which many are excluded.”

The presence of migrants “is an opportunity for encounter and for showing concern. It requires knowing how to welcome, how to provide room, how to listen. Here, the story of encounter with God acquires a chapter about meeting God within a stranger, wherein we set aside our certainties based on habits and fears and open up to discovering new truths about ourselves. It’s not just about migrants, it’s about how to be a church.”

We need all hands on deck to meet the needs of our citizens, as well as the needs of those who have arrived on our shores from more than 30 different countries. Integral human development is inclusive, so let’s leave no one behind; let’s see the challenges we face as opportunities to build a true human family; a fraternal world.

LEELA RAMDEEN

chair, CCSJ

director, CREDI

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