Collaboration between the congregations of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Missionary Sisters of Saint Charles Borromeo, Scalabrini, has made the Chaire Gynai project possible, as desired by Pope Francis.
~ by Sr. Eleia Scariot, mscs, Director of the Chaire Gynai project
A Mission Born out of the Heart of Francis
Chaire Gynai is a semi-autonomous project aimed at supporting refugee women with children and migrant women in vulnerable situations. The project began in June of 2018, out of the request of Pope Francis to our Scalabrini Missionary Sisters Congregation. Its activities are carried out in two facilities located in Rome (Via della Pineta Sacchetti, 506 and Via Michele Mercati, 5), both properties belonging to the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus who loaned them for the purposes of this important project at no charge.
The mission is based on the four verbs presented by Pope Francis: welcome, promote, protect and integrate. According to the Pastoral Guidelines on Internally Displaced People, these “describe the mission of the Church for all those who live in the existential peripheries and in concrete situations of danger and who need to be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated.”
We believe integration to be fundamental since it allows refugee and migrant women to fully participate in the life of the community that welcomes them, in a path of mutual enrichment and fruitful participation, promoting integral human development in the local society.
Welcoming Refugee and Migrant Women with Children
Since the project began, we have welcomed and accompanied about 60 individuals. The migrant and refugee women participating in the project are supported in their basic needs regarding their children’s schooling, health care, personal documents, job search and home search, among others; they are assisted in the process of improving and strengthening their work; they are invited to participate in training sessions on their rights and issues related to daily life.
Upon arriving at one of the houses, women are interviewed by the interdisciplinary team and the coordinator in order to develop an individual path of accompaniment towards independence. They are also counselled to grow stronger emotionally and to acquire tools of awareness and confidence that are valuable in reaching independence. The volunteers on site offer these women and children a powerful relational experience: it is an experience of giving, a relationship based on listening, understanding, protection and promotion. Their interaction with migrant volunteers who are fully integrated in the local context is of great interest. They share their experience with the women and provide them with tips for self-improvement and a better resettlement experience.
To Protect and Promote for a More Dignified Life
The activities of Chaire Gynai are inspired and focused on the four verbs mentioned above, while promoting actions and experiences that can represent best practices and examples to follow. During their stay, migrant and refugee women find a space of care and protection where they can feel safe and take the necessary time to review their personal story, while striving to connect with the local context and plan a new course for their lives. This is achieved thanks to the support of the multi-disciplinary team which aims at developing the women’s capacities to access the services and resources in the area in an effort to enhance their professional and personal skills in the pursuit of a path of interaction with the local context through work, familiarity with the environment and self-knowledge to develop a plan for the future.
The project is characterized by family coexistence and sharing, considering the fundamental need for human and humanizing relationships among participants. We aim at building energizing spaces in a fruitful environment to support a recovery of dignity and the redemption of women’s dreams, as well as family relationships. A process of psychosocial recovery and consolidation of personal and professional relations supports them in a gradual path to independence from the facility over a time determined with the participants, and as part of customized projects developed with each of them and constantly monitored by the interdisciplinary team.
Signs of Joy and Positive Outcomes of the Mission
Results can be achieved with this mission through the development of personal projects for autonomy, considering the resources, capacities, experience and skills of every woman for her work integration and social inclusion. We aim at helping them become aware that they are the main characters in their own experiences and life projects. Therefore, we work in teams to guarantee our hospitality in semi-autonomy to lead every single woman to (re)conquer her independence.
It is especially important to foster paths of promotion and integration regarding work, education, health and other topics concerning coexistence and citizenship. Success is possible thanks to the socio-cultural, psychological, intercultural, spiritual and legal accompaniment provided to the women we welcome.
Integrating to Establish a More Humane Society in Solidarity
Refugee women, especially mothers with children, can contribute to developing a culture of encounter and the promotion of protagonism and independence in a perspective of active citizenship, in synergy with the territory, local authorities and services. The local community can benefit from the presence of refugee and migrant women in vulnerable situations in ways that can influence the entire communit. They can be stirred by the testimony and implementation of the Chaire Gynai Project and its awareness and information processes addressed to the local population for a human and Christian vision of human mobility.
It is worth mentioning that Chaire Gynai is carried out in conjunction with the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, CEI, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, USMI and the Migrants Office of the Diocese of Rome. From the outset, the project has benefited from the invaluable collaboration of several women’s religious congregations.
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Eléia Scariot, a Scalabrini missionary sister, has been the director of Chaire Gynai since 2018. The Project is carried out in collaboration with the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart (Cabrini Sisters). The author holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Caxias do Sul, Brazil, and a master’s degree in Communications from the UNISINOS University, Sao Leopoldo, RS, Brazil.