Towards the poor and the third world
Above all since the General Chapter of 1989 on ‘Towards the Poor and the Third World’, our Order has extended the boundaries of its ministry to receive the last, people who are not necessarily sick but anyway excluded from access to the good of health.
The Constitution of the Order observes and calls its members to this commitment: ‘In its ministry our Order shows a preference for the poorest and the most forsaken of the sick and is solicitous in responding to their needs in developing nations and mission lands’ (Constitution, n. 51). In recent years we Camillians have responded to these recommendations by setting ourselves to listen to the cries of so many desperate and poor people in the world, trying to provide concrete responses made up of love, of justice and of service.
Born in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, the houses to take in homeless people, who are often illegal immigrants, have by now spread to many countries: the Association of Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Disciples of St. Camillus’, which was founded by Brother Hector in Milan; the Madian Community in Turin; Le Gué in France; the Welcome House of St. Camillus in Acireale; the ‘Posada’ night refuge in Arequipa (Peru); the St. Camillus I and II home in San Paolo, Brazil (over 700 meals a day); the ‘SW. Lazarz’ home in Warsaw, Poland; and the Mary Oasis of Health in Varese, amongst others.
In addition to the already cited ‘Le Gué’ in France, there have been other experiences developed on the wave of the real needs brought by this social emergency. In Brazil activities involving rehabilitation have been promoted by the Cruzada Bandeirante S. Camilo in the city of Cotia, near to San Paolo. The ‘Tents of Christ’ Association founded by Father Zambotti has the following goal: of the sixteen houses operating in Italy, Brazil and Mexico, various of them have the objective of helping people to escape drug addiction. In Poland our religious have three houses near Warsaw for taking in people in a way that takes into account the various needs of the various stages of recovery from drug addiction.
Amongst the poorest of the poor are to be included those who do not have access to the basic necessities of the earth which are obtained by the few. They are forced to live in shantytowns of various kinds, huddled together without electricity, drinking water or hygiene services, in make-do arrangements with grave risks to their health. With special attention paid to health problems, the Camillians implement projects involving prevention and assistance with special emphasis placed on the protection of children, motherhood and old age.
Lastly, amongst the last because they are marginalised in their societies and forgotten about by the mass media, there are the lepers. The Camillians continue their work in various contexts, with attention paid not only to prevention but also to complete physical, intellectual and moral rehabilitation . At the present time such activity is carried out in Khokwat in Thailand, in some centres of Yunnan in China and in Fianarantsoa in Madagascar.