Easter this year had a different flavor. The risen Christ is still alive in our lives. The Resurrection is not a theory or event of the past, but an experience that every day and every year we celebrate, not only to remember or fulfill the liturgical calendar, but to celebrate it as a foundational experience of faith that renews our commitment to the life lived in Christ Jesus, that revitalizes us and restores us to the life of grace and belonging to God who is born, grows, dies, resurrects and becomes Spirit to better mark his presence among us through real events, in which life is celebrated from the deepest part of our being. This is what I experienced this Easter: singing the Alleluia with the presence of 4 young people in our community.

It was a reliving of 21 years ago when the babies arrived and today, I celebrate with them the joy and gratitude to the God of life who has guided and protected them. It is God who is present. Today I see His action in the life of these “babies”, and from the depths of my being, I let out a song of praise: Glory to God in the highest!!! To Him honor and praise! Who are these “girls” of God and why do I rejoice so much with their presence in my life? I will try to share a little about each of them:

The war in Angola has left many orphans and families divided, deaths, refugees and starvation. It was in these conditions that our precious girls came to us in our community in Kalandula mission. The presence of the MDRs in this community was a blessing for many families who were refugees from the war. Kalandula was called the mission of resistance.  In 2002, after the signing of the Peace Accords, many people came out of the jungle to the mission to ask for help, health support or hospitalization of patients in serious condition. They also brought us many newborn orphaned children. At that time, we had in the boarding school more than 20 girls and more than 15 boys under our care, with ages between 20 and 4 years old, each boy or girl came with his or her story. Some were orphans, others had parents who died in the Mission and the sisters did the funeral and took in the children at the boarding school, others had parents who had fled the war and never reappeared. But the case of these girls was different. It all started after the arrival of Peace, in April 2002, when the people who were hiding in the jungle returned to their villages of origin, all of them weakened by anemia, chronic diseases and malnutrition, they had nothing, no food, no salt, no oil, nothing!

In the first months after the signing of the Peace Agreements, we received in our community María Manuela (Ya), who was 18 months old, and with her came 6 siblings. María Manuela arrived in a very critical state of health and with advanced anemia. The first night she spent with us she was admitted to the hospital on emergency, needing blood transfusion and the intervention of many people to save her life. Little by little she recovered and grew up with a good physique and good humor.

Palmira (Camila) we also received her when she was 1 year old, but she seemed to be only one month old due to the generalized malnutrition she had. She is an orphan, her mother died after her birth, being in the care of her grandmother who also died months later, drowned in the river with the baby on her back. It was by miracle that Palmira was saved. People passing by helped the two save the child and took her to the boarding school, because there was no other family member to take care of her.

Alexandra (Baby) is also an orphan. Her mother died after giving birth and the baby was taken in by the Malange community. Due to the baby’s serious health condition, the Sisters gave her up for adoption to a family and from there they accompanied and assisted the family. Years later, the woman who cared for her died. Baby still in need of care and assistance, the Sisters took her into the community and then joined the other children of Kalandula, who welcomed her as a sister.

Serafina (Fininha) is also another story, this one not an orphan. Her mother had postpartum depression and wanted to suffocate the baby. After several attempts to kill the child, one fine day she went to bury her in a hole, but thanks to the people who were passing by at the time, she was rescued and taken to the Mission hospital accompanied by her father and also the mother to undergo treatment. Due to her mother’s health condition, Fininha ended up staying with us, because she needed special medical attention to survive.

Today these young women are integrated among generous families who welcomed them as daughters, taking care of them and paying for their studies. Two of them are in their second year of university and the other two are about to finish their baccalaureate in nursing. They have a very strong bond of sisterhood between them. Inseparable, they love each other as if they were blood sisters. They all have a common dream: to create a place to welcome children in need. It is God who works wonders and shows the way! This was a very valuable experience for me. Because my concern has always been, what would be the future of these girls? Seeing them today, I only have to thank God, the author of everything!

Saving lives is our motto. The motto that motivated us as MDRs in the Kalandula mission. Everything for life!

Rita João

Viana – Angola

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