Mediterranean Hope ministry continues to bear fruit

A PC(USA) partner says the need for refugee housing continues to top the list

by Fiona Kendall with Mediterranean Hope | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The message on the drawing translates, “Enough with exploitation already! Documents for everybody.” According to PC(USA) partner Mediterranean Hope, migrants and refugees with legal status are much less likely to be exploited. (Contributed photo)

Editor’s note: Mediterranean Hope aims to respond where migrant need is greatest. It continues to work on the island of Lampedusa, a Sicilian island in the Mediterranean Sea where small boats of exhausted migrants continue to arrive from North Africa, undeterred by the withdrawal of search and rescue operations or the risk of contracting COVID-19. These risks pale in comparison with the challenges left behind. Here is an update from Fiona Kendall, a mission co-worker supported by the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church in Britain, and the Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, who work with Mediterranean Hope, a partner of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

This piece was contributed by another partner of the PC(USA), the American Waldensian Society. Learn more here.

 LAMPEDUSA, Sicily — In recent months, much of Mediterranean Hope’s focus has been on migrants already in Italy. Living below the radar in shanty towns, they are an exploited workforce, propping up seasonal harvests of tomatoes, citrus fruits, and olive oil; undocumented, without contracts or access to basic services.

The Mediterranean Hope team in Calabria has been supporting these folk through the health crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, providing information and basic supplies such as hand sanitizer, masks and food parcels. The team has also been fighting for rights for these workers.

This dogged struggle has at last borne some fruit. With the support of other organizations and the current Minister for Agriculture, legislation has been enacted providing for some short-term permits and contracts. It is a small but significant step.

Mediterranean Hope is now looking to build on this work by providing housing for those crowded into containers, tents and other inadequate accommodations. This much-needed project, involving other local organizations, has yet to be given the go-ahead at a local level. We are convinced, however, that it is worth pursuing and anxiously await the outcome of a funding application that would enable it to get off the ground. Please pray that this project might proceed. We know that Rome was not built in a day!

A prayer for refugees and those working to welcome them, written by Fiona Kendall:

Loving God,

At times things seem bleak and we cannot fathom your purpose. Yet even painful experiences can strengthen us, reveal new truths and engender change. When Joseph was sold into slavery, things were desperate. Yet he was enabled to alter the lives of many, govern wisely and bring healing and hope for all. So we ask for confidence in your purpose and perseverance in our walk with you. We pray that Italy’s leaders would act wisely in responding to COVID-19’s effects on the nation’s health and economy. We pray for those in Italy who have shown strength of character, discipline and concern for others, that they might continue to do so, keeping Italy safe and communities strong.

We pray for those on the margins, for whom hunger, homelessness or exploitation are a reality. We pray for those arriving in small boats across the Mediterranean, exposed to danger, poverty, and hostility. We ask you to strengthen those working to uphold their right to claim asylum and their struggle for dignity. May we not close our eyes to the needy nor, through our actions, perpetuate their vulnerability. In all that we do, may we change lives for the better. Amen.

 


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