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Monday, June 5, 2017

One World Religion Watch: "Religion" Is Not a Basis For Division?

One World Religion Watch: "Religion" Is Not a Basis For Division?
This article is coming from a supposed a "Catholic" site.  Jesus is in deep sorrow over the continued destruction of His Church. Coexistence= Masonry
Stories of coexistence between believers in Christ and Islam followers. Here is how in Cotonou, child victims of traffickers are welcomed, protected and cared for.

Children stripped of their childhood, exploited, mistreated, abused - whatever their skin color, their professed religion, the country of origin – are everybody’s children. When women and men - whatever background, culture, faith - decide to join together and work together to heal their wounds, to restore their smile and future, an undeniable work worth of our being “human” is in force.

In Cotonou, a city overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in southern Benin, a group of Salesian Sisters has created a network of nursing homes employing 120 people, including some of Islamic faith: the goal is to get hundreds of kids out of desperation and resignation to a life of sufferance, offering them protection, hope and education. To lead this work is Sister Maria Antonietta Marchese, from Turin, 74, of whom last 16 spent in Benin.

Child Trafficking
Until the eighties of the last century in this country - where 20% of the population identifies as Christians, around 18% as Muslims, and followers of traditional religions are little more than 60% - there was a widespread practice: parents entrusted their children to wealthy families who resided in the city who, in return for some work, were supported and sent to school.
“However, within the years, this phenomenon has degenerated into a real business run by traffickers, the so-called vidomegons (literally” entrusted child “), Sister Maria Antonietta explains.” Parents entrust their little ones to these individuals who then hand them over to families who, instead of sending them to school, exploit and mistreated them. Today there are thousands of children who, from the earliest age, even as you ng as 5 or 6 years old, work from dawn to sunset. The girls, mainly employed as domestic or market vendors, are often sexually abused. “Many kids are sent to work in Nigeria, Togo and Gabon, countries in need of labor. In some cases parents, due to poverty, sell their children, well aware of the exploitation the small ones will be destined for; though more often, they are deceived as they are told that their children will receive good education in the new families,.

A difficult phenomenon to defeat
Defeating child exploitation is not an easy task, Sister Maria Antonietta says and adds: “Despite the fact that important child protection documents have been approved, in Benin, children are barely worth anything”. We are dedicated to a widespread awareness-raising work, we talk in churches and mosques, and in Cotonou, we have several opened welcome and training centers.”
With us, nuns work psychologists, social workers, educators, teachers, including Islamic followers: “There is great collaboration between us; we support each other and team up. We all commit ourselves with great dedication - faithful to the principles of Salesian pedagogy - in the awareness of having a common mission: the care and protection of minors.”

The Foyer of Hope
The Sisters founded the Foyer, a home that gives hospitality to 70-80 little and young girls aged 6 to 16, who the police saved from a life of exploitation, which in Benin is prohibited by law, or were found in the markets by the Salesian staff. “Here girls learn how to read and write, play, they learn to do some work. Wounded by great humiliations and sufferings, these girls are followed by psychologists. There usually stay in the Foyer between two and three months, a period during which our social workers conduct an investigation seeking to trace their parents and see if family reintegration is possible”. Sr. Maria Antonietta continues, “It will then be the social promotion centers’ task to make sure over time that the girls are well cared for and sent to school. These young girls do not hold grudges towards their parents who have given them up: they are always very eager to go back and live with them. Sometimes, unfortunately, we are unable to trace the family or we believe the reinstatement to be risky. When this happens, our guests keep on living in the Foyer, go to school and then learn a job. During these 16 years, we took care of over 3,000 girls.”

The Muslim director
Among Sister Maria Antonietta’s collaborators is Micdadou Coulibaly, a Muslim, married and father of two children and social worker who manages the Maison du Soleil, which offers hospitality and training to teenage mothers who are victims of exploitation, encouraging their reintegration into the family, “I feel great compassion for those young lives afflicted by suffering, and often marginalized. I cherish the Salesian education system, capable of fostering cooperation among all, and the sisters’ attitude, who are particularly sensitive to the needs of minors and do not make any distinction between Christians and Muslims; for these reasons I am very happy to work in the Salesian Center. In my country - thanks to the projects promoted by the nuns in favor of the most vulnerable and the work of all our staff members, life - especially that of children and women - is improving, albeit slowly, day by day.”

The many works
In addition to the Foyer and the Maison du Soleil, the Sisters have started other works: a farm that hosts little girls from rural areas who have been dragged away from exploitation, another institution where boys from 15 to 18 years can learn a job and then successfully enter in the workplace and, an atelier for young women who, after attending a course, work in clothes and accessories packaging. There is then a large school with more than 1,000 students and an “accelerated” primary school for girls who have never received any form of education, and - in the poorest areas - childcare facilities from 3 to 5 years old.

Learn to accept others  
Relations between Christians and Muslims in Benin are very good, religion is not a reason for division or controversy, Sister Maria Antonietta says in unison with Micdadou, who adds, “I have very good relations with colleagues of Christian faith and with the sisters, who are always available for me. Though I am a Muslim, everyone has accepted me: I consider myself well integrated into the Salesian family. More generally, I can say that I have good relations with Christians: in the past, I worked for some time with the Jesuits: it was a frank and friendly relationship. I am convinced that it is essential in life to learn to accept others the way they are. Doing this will make people love us. I have always wanted to follow this principle and have many intimate Christian friends who love me. 
Authentic religious people (of different religions) who live and work side by side in peace have learned to accept each other and show the world that it is possible to work together to achieve common goals: the Salesian Sisters Center itself is the living proof”.