A Family of Migrants seeks to live life to the full

The father of this family is an engineer and worked hard to give a comfortable standard of living for his wife and children but because of war in his country, he and his family witnessed the cruel death of their parents and other family members and watched helplessly as their house and business shop was set to fire. Terrified, they fled and lived in a refugee camp for 9 months; his wife was pregnant and gave birth to a son during this time. They arrived in Portugal on 28 September 2016, with the children whose age ranged from 3 months to 8 years.

The family came to us through the Platform for Refugees, a civil society organization that supports refugees in the present humanitarian crisis. Following the invitation for public, private, religious and civil institutions to welcome refugees, we warmly received the family.  We prepared a three-bedroom house in a city, ensuring that there was everything that they need. Since then, we have been accompanying the family.

We facilitated the family’s integration into society: giving material, financial, psychological and social support… going with them to doctors, collaborating in the growth, education, health and development of the children, facilitating the certification of residence, getting the father’s driving license, offering them the use of a car to go to work and for other errands, and ensuring that a social worker assisted them in accomplishing bureaucratic requirements; a contact from Jordan collaborated with us, particularly in the work of translation so that we can understand their needs. 

Despite difficulties, the family has shown a capacity for inculturation, organization and willingness to overcome the hardships of life. A job was found for the father in his field of expertise and little by little the members gained autonomy. The children learned the language and are well-adjusted.  

It has been a great challenge and an opportunity for us to support their progress and to provide a sense of well-being. Through constant attention, listening, interest, animation, and availability a fraternal bond was created between us and the family that helped in the healing of psychological wounds, the pain of exile and the separation from other members of their family… the carrying of the burden of suffering.  For us and for the family, this was an adventure! a great challenge! Everything was so strange for them and for us! language, culture, religion!  It took almost 5 years in a shared effort!

During this time of pandemic, support was also provided like a computer and laptop for the children for their online classes. It is impossible for the family of 6 to be fully autonomous, with only the father earning a living. The mother suffers greatly from a bone disease; a child has difficulty in concentration which is a problem for his parents but who tries to overcome it with a lot of faith.  

It was worthwhile to welcome this family who has integrated well in Portugal. We consider this to be an extremely positive experience of sharing and exchange based on mutual respect of cultures. These gestures continue to mark the life of this family.  For us, this speaks of EPHATA, “be opened.”  It also tells us that “Whatever you do to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do it to me” (Mt 25:40).  We are asked to continue to be more deeply rooted in the passion for the poor, of seeing in them the face of Christ. “The Charity of Jesus Crucified impels us” to detach ourselves from the superfluous, to leave our comfort zones, and to go towards and encounter and serve those who are most in need.

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