They have lived for 60 years at the service of the needy. They remained in Kabul under Soviet occupation, the Taliban control and the NATO bombing. Respected by all, even by the Taliban. This February their experience will end, according to Fr. Moretti "an example for us all."
Kabul (AsiaNews) - "In all these years, they have never left Kabul: not during the Soviet occupation, not under the Taliban, and not even during the bombing." The Little Sisters of Jesus were at the side of Afghans doing whatever they could , and now their experience is coming to an end because of the lack of vocations. Father Giuseppe Moretti, chaplain to the Italian embassy and pastor of the missio sui iuris in Afghanistan until 2015 tells AsiaNews. In Kabul, the Christian community is made up of a few dozen people, mostly military officials and embassy.
Founded by Magdeleine Hutin and inspired by the Charles de Foucauld message, the congregation is present in 60 countries. The Mother General, now in the process of beatification, visited Kabul to prepare the arrival of the sisters. They settled in 1956, serving as nurses in state hospitals.
Fr. Moretti speaks of their dedication: "They received a lot of international aid, and always tried to get this aid to the people most in need. In 2013, a NATO general sent food parcels every Sunday, but the sisters, though living in poverty, deprived themselves to give them to the needy".
"They spoke the language itself, lived as Afghan, sleeping on a mat on the floor and wearing traditional dress." For this, the sisters were loved and respected by the community, so that in recent years they had become Afghan citizens, "they joked saying that it is not true that there is no longer a Christian in Afghanistan ".
The sisters were also respected by the Taliban. "In 1993 they went every Friday to the embassy chapel to pray, even though it was closed because of the civil war. The Taliban knew who they were, but they always allowed them inside. On the front of the chapel there is a clearly visible cross. The head office of the religious police was near. They could have destroyed the chapel, but they did not. "
"Also - he continues - in the early 2000s, the religious police went to the Little Sisters at home. At the time, they lived in a barracks built by the Soviets. The manager of the building, a mullah, stopped the religious police telling them do not touch the nuns. These women must be respected'. The Taliban were only allowed to enter the apartment and then they had to leave, leaving them in peace. "
For Fr. Moretti, what was striking was their way of being close to those in need, "in silence": "Even with the arrival of NATO in 2002, they always politely refused all interviews. Not only to avoid being targeted or considered spies, but precisely because of their dedication and discretion. So many women have approached them, looking for support, comfort and strength, and have always kept confidential their stories".
The experience of the Little Sisters of Jesus ended last February with the departure of the last two sisters, Marianne and Catherine. They were in Kabul for 40 years. "My Afghan aide told me 'sisters don’t leave' in tears."
Now in Afghanistan, there are only the Sisters of Mother Teresa and a group of more congregations in charge, along with the Afghan teachers, of children with disabilities. According to Fr. Moretti, the story of the Little Sisters has facilitated these new experiences.
"The Little Sisters of Jesus were Afghan among Afghans - said Fr. Moretti – those who saw them could not help but admire them. Their story is an example for all. "