Lessons in conversion from abandoned children
Bangkok (AsiaNews) - Learning from abandoned children what conversion really means. PIME Fr. Adriano Pelosin, who has spent more than 20 years in Thailand, says that it can be done and tells of experiences shared by teenagers and young adults among the 200 small inhabitants of his Children’s Home. There was a man, named John, who wanted to experience life in a shanty town. “In Tuek Deng – Fr. Pelosin recounts – we have a Children’s Home where a dozen baby girls are cared for by two women who were abandoned by their husbands. At the end of his experience there John confessed that ‘The joy of these children who have absolutely nothing, takes my cares away… by making me realize that my worries were pointless’”.
This is just one of the stories that Fr Pelosin narrates in an Easter letter to benefactors and those who have chosen to help by distance adoptions, a letter he wrote together with Fr Raffaele Manenti, also a PIME missionary and parish priest of Our Lady of Mercy parish. The letter reads “Christ teaches us that if we do not become like children we will not enter the heavenly kingdom. In other words conversion means simplifying our lives, freeing ourselves from evil and becoming innocent, disarming, trusting and open to being loved and giving love just like children. The orphans and abandoned children, who we care for with your help, are helping us to convert ourselves”.
Thus it was for Peter, “who had just lost his dearly beloved wife. And the miracle repeats itself. Peter writes: ‘ seeing that these children live in very difficult situations, that their future prospects are so limited compared to my own children’s and yet at the same time that they express so much happiness and love, really moved me, making me ashamed that I had held my loss to be of such importance. The pain remains, but I deal with it differently”.
The “disease” is contagious: “Fr. Anucia, a diocesan priest from Bangkok, brought sixty young Buddhists, Muslims, Catholics and Protestants to visit the Children’s Home and spend some time with the children there (as part of a programme for inter religious dialogue). The spontaneity, the joy and the innocence of the children immediately won over the young people’s hearts. The young veiled Muslim girls were the most interesting and as a result were assailed by the affectionately inquiring children. Children devoid of religious prejudice, needy of love and wanting to love washed the religious prejudices from the minds of the young visitors. The children were reluctant to see the young people go; taking them by the hand they accompanied their visitors as they prepared to leave. It wasn’t the teenagers who guided the children but the children who lead the teenagers born of a new friendship, in which human relations supersedes religious differences”.
Finally “A lot o time and effort is dedicated to young children with problems, above teenagers who are still very vulnerable and unable to take on life’s responsibilities, thus they may give in easily to the temptations of violence, drugs, sex and theft. And yet, even from them we learn a little more to aid our conversion. Mr Noi, one of our very first collaborators, who runs the Home for Teenagers had this reflection to make: ‘ my experience with these young teenagers pushes me to love them all the more, I am not like their school teachers who get angry, insulting them even hating them, I correct and explain why the must not behave in certain ways that are destructive for them and others, I look on them as Christ looked upon Zachariah: I ask them to come down from the tree, to be my friends and to eat together’”.