Brother Lucio Beninati chose life in the streets to help children (photos)
The Italian missionary founded an association "to serve street children" in Bangladesh with some 50 volunteers from different religious and social background. Thanks to his work, abandoned children can “dream again”.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Brother Lucio Beninati, a missionary from Italy, believes that “we must live on the streets” to help street children.
To do so, he chose to live in the slums of Dhaka and Sylhet rather than at the quarters provided by the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) to which he belongs. Thus, he can “understand how street kids live and have a life as simple as theirs,” he told AsiaNews.
Although he has dedicated his life to abandoned children, he is aware that such physical proximity is not enough. With this in mind, he founded Pothoshishu Sheba Songothon (PSS), an ‘Association to serve street children’, a rarity for Bangladesh, with 50 volunteers: businessmen, teachers, students, activists, pensioners, homemakers.
"It doesn’t have only Christians; there are Muslims too,” the missionary said. “Islamic radicals have never threatened us.”
Every day Brother Lucio and his team visit the capital’s parks or overpasses where the poor gather. We spent a day with them, 17 November, in the Kawranbazar area.
With the winter approaching, the volunteers tried to explain to the children living outdoors the problems caused by the cold. They tell them to bundle up with heavy clothes and wear shoes.
As he carefully watches the kids, Brother Lucio realised that one of them, Ratna Akter, had a thorn stuck in a leg. He carefully removed it and medicated the wound. He also administered medicines to other children. The day ended with the kids drawing and eating food brought by volunteers.
The children that Brother Lucio helps tend to have a better future than expected. Mahammad Faisal, a 25-year-old Muslim, is one of them. Today he has a food stall.
"I met Fr Lucio when I was three years old and lived on the street with other children. He took care of us, filled us with affection and love, fed us. It was a blessing for me. Had I not met him I would have ended up a drug addict or a criminal."
Another boy whose life was turned around is now a young imam who accompanies the missionary.
For Mim Akter, 14, thinks looked bleak. “I had no dreams. Only when I saw the work of Brother Lucio, did I realise that my mother needed me. My father had abandoned us and for this reason we were in the street. But when I grow up, I want to have a good job."
People "ask questions,” Fr Lucio said. “Some ask me if I convert the children. No, I have never proselytised, I show them my solidarity. They are abandoned and I take care of them. I want them to study and have a normal life. Obviously, I am a missionary, and it is my life that preaches the Gospel."