Restoring lives: Cáritas S. Francisco. Elda
SDG 10 and 16
Caritas Team Caritas Parish S. Francisco de Sales.
Elda. Alicante. Spain
Sometimes the SDGs seem to be things of significant institutions, and people who are on the street do not think they are within our reach, but often without thinking about it, we work putting into practice these statements and bringing them closer to those who need to be fulfilled more urgently.
In the shelter service of Caritas San Francisco de Sales Parish Caritas of Elda (Alicante), as in many other Caritas shelters, we find the reality that human rights are violated daily; the segments that suffer most from this situation are, undoubtedly, migrants, families with limited resources and children.
Inequalities do not only exist between rich and poor countries. In our environment, we can find significant differences between a family with a stable income and one that does not. Networking and coordinating with the social institutions around us lead us, without realizing it, to work to reduce inequalities so that no one is left behind and to support the construction of inclusive societies and effective institutions.
Although they may not be entirely visible, we can find situations of extreme poverty in our streets. People with precarious jobs live from day to day, migrants without documentation who cannot access any kind of contract or assistance, “single-parent” families whose divorce settlements are not honored, and without family support. A broad spectrum of situations brings a person to the edge of hope.
When a person or family falls into a situation of extreme poverty because their work does not have sufficient remuneration, there are situations such as lack of access to a cell phone or internet; their children cannot access education because of the existing digital divide; they are left without housing and cannot access basic daily food if there is no intervention from the States (many are migrants) or from the Institutions. In many cases, a cycle begins that will last several generations because it is complicated to generate the necessary conditions to get out of this precarious state.
Covid-19 has aggravated the situation, and these are some of the concrete realities that are presented to us:
· A woman, mother of a family, two teenage children, divorced, and with her self-esteem at rock bottom, her husband leaves her alone at the worst moment of her life, without a job and with no chance of finding one because of the pandemic. Always subject to her husband’s decisions, she accepts a divorce agreement that ignores her rights without her being aware of it. The family home is left for the children; shared custody requires that each parent accompanies the children for a month and the other must leave the house. In the month that she does not have custody, she has nowhere to live, and in the month that she is with the children, she cannot meet the expenses of the house and feed her children…
· A lonely and sick man who will have cancer surgery soon, with no job and no benefits, no family support due to mistakes made throughout his life. He lives in a rented apartment, alone…
At Caritas, we support both of these situations. The sick man, with financial assistance to pay rent and a food card to buy food, and the woman with a food card. In both cases, we offer listening and accompaniment. To the woman, we encourage her to seek a public defender to modify the divorce agreement. We also put them in contact with each other, and they decide that the woman should live in the sick man’s house and accompany him, take care of him and run the house in exchange for lodging when she is not with her children. The results are already being seen; they are much more animated and eager to fight and move forward.
· A refugee who arrived from Venezuela at the end of 2019, with his parents, 85 and 87 years old, applies for asylum, and the pandemic arrives. As of today, he has no job and no possibility of finding one, he has already spent all his savings, he lost the house he rented when he arrived, and now they do not rent him any; they are not on the street because he has managed to rent a room for the three of them in an irregular way so he has no contract and they do not make him receipts. From Caritas, we pay for that room and intervene so that the social services support the elderly and approve an emergency aid, which they have not paid.
In Caritas, we welcome this situation and try to accompany these people who come to us for help. Some hope of getting better and others as a last resort after a long search without finding solutions and with a level of hopelessness that affects their physical and mental health.
When Caritas volunteers are in front of these people, they try to transmit the message of Jesus. Our inspiration is the Jesus who approaches his fellow countrymen and offers them help, and seeks solutions with them. Jesus encourages the Samaritan woman, who walks along the road to Emmaus, who talks to the pilgrims at the lake to share the bread and fish. Our Jesus is the one who knows that the center is the person.
What is essential is that the person who approaches us learns that we are not the solution forever. The current reality of each person has causes and consequences; when we evaluate the cases, we try to propose actions that modify those causes and effects to improve their situation. Therefore, each person who comes to us must be a protagonist searching for and finding solutions.
The UN developed the 2030 Agenda, but its achievement will only be possible if every person in the world collaborates with them in their immediate environment. For Caritas, it is essential to achieve the SDG 2030, but above all, it is vital that ALL the people with whom we share our work in some way can enjoy them.
Caritas Team Caritas Parish S. Francisco de Sales
Elda. Alicante. Spain