Sisters of Reparation: 'Our tears for our Myanmar'
The order founded by Fr. Carlo Salerio now numbers 380 Burmese religious who give voice to the suffering of their people. "Every day news of new violence." On November 10, an evening with them in Milan (broadcast in streaming) on this forgotten drama.
Yangon (AsiaNews) - "Every day we receive horrible news: people arrested, tortured, raped, massacred and burned alive; churches, sacred places, houses in villages and cities burned, bombed; more and more displaced people, hunted, arrested, killed." This was told by Mother Beatrice, one of more than 380 Sisters of the Burmese Reparations who, inside and outside their country, share with the families and the people of Myanmar the drama of the conflict triggered by the coup d'état of February 1 last year.
Their testimonies are carried in an article in the latest issue of the Mondo e Missione magazine and will be the focus of a special evening entitled "Myanmar, a forgotten crisis" - promoted in collaboration with AsiaNews - taking place in Milan on Wednesday, November 10 at 9 pm at Centro Pime (via Mosé Bianchi 94, live streaming on the YouTube channels of AsiaNews and Centro Pime).
The Sisters of Reparation were founded in Milan in 1859 by one of the first PIME missionaries, Father Carlo Salerio, and by M. Maria Carolina Orsenigo. Since October 1895 they have been present above all in the most remote villages of Myanmar on a journey of sharing with the local populations - especially the women - that continues to this day.
Currently, the women religious are in13 of the 16 Burmese dioceses with 62 convents, but some have been closed in recent months to escape persecution and reprisals. As a result, some of the many activities carried out by the religious in all fields have been suspended: from pastoral work to schools in the villages, from the home for the elderly in Yangon to health centers, from the reception of orphans to service in prisons and assistance to refugees and displaced persons who were already present in some areas of the country (such as in Kachin and Shan States) and have now increased exponentially.
But if on the one hand some activities have had to be closed down, on the other this emergency situation has opened the doors of many convents to welcome people fleeing their homes, especially the elderly and the sick, unable to escape into the forest.
These nuns are courageous in making their voices heard, allowing flashes of news, stories and dramas to filter out of the country that would otherwise remain buried under a blanket of silence. For example, the obstacles placed by the regime to the arrival of humanitarian aid in the areas most affected by clashes with ethnic militias.
"They are blocked - confirms a nun - seized and burned, instead of being distributed to hungry people. Unfortunately, other facts are happening more and more cruel against the defenseless population.
This is what the family of Mother Noemi is experiencing, and in particular her sister who escaped into the forest with her six children: "For more than a month we have been living under the trees and the food is almost finished - her sister told her after a long and worrying silence -. We frequently hear the bombardments and one night we heard them very close; we were afraid of being discovered, so I told my husband and my children to run away because otherwise we would all be dead. I am so scared, but I pretend to be strong for the love of my children."
In addition to priests, pastors and religious who have been arrested and mistreated, there are also numerous Christians killed and churches and places of worship desecrated, destroyed or seized by the military. "Before this horrible war - says Mother Eugenia - my parents used to attend the Eucharistic celebration every morning and they were already thinking, together with the priest, of the preparations for the celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary, when the sudden flight occurred due to the arrival of the military. They ran from place to place, always looking for new areas to protect themselves from the bombing, hiding the children among the vegetation. They brought with them few things and even some statues of Our Lady and, despite the privations, they never stopped praying."
"Christians, like other people of good will - confirms Mother Beatrice - give hope to people by welcoming them, being close to them, healing their wounds and consoling them. In certain moments, however, a question torments us: where are you God? Why so much silence? But it cannot be that God no longer hears our cry. We are certain that He sees our suffering and our misery. God goes before us with the faint light of his Word that lights hope in the darkness of this terrible night, he goes before us and guarantees us his safety."