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How can we best support refugees? Report from an enriching FHA Conference

How can we better accompany refugees, displaced persons or victims of human trafficking? This was the issue participants sought to address during a Conference organized by the Famvin Homeless Alliance (FHA) from June 7 to 9, 2022, in which several AIC members participated. The meeting was held in Seville, Spain, in the Provincial House of the Daughters of Charity, and gathered about 120 participants online and in person, from 20 countries.

Presentations made by the many speakers, coming from all over the world to share their experience, knowledge or life story, gave us food for though and led to rich exchanges between participants, who all shared a precious Vincentian heritage and a common dream: to give every human being a “home” that allows him or her to live with dignity and security.

Over three days of intense work, several complementary topics were addressed:

  1. Forced migration and the complex beginnings of a difficult journey into the unknown
  2. Accompanying a dangerous journey as Vincentians
  3. A new home: the arrival as the beginning of another journey towards one’s own destiny

During the second day of the Conference, participants had the opportunity to visit one of the 6 Vincentian projects in Seville for homeless people and refugees. A great opportunity to meet and share with the different actors on these projects! The moving and inspiring testimonies of several young beneficiaries of the projects beautifully brought to life the words of Saint Vincent: “The poor are our lords and masters”.

The Conference also gave us the opportunity to reflect on how we can and should strengthen collaboration within the Vincentian family to better respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters who are forced to migrate. To strengthen such collaboration, we should share our lived experiences and strengths and set certain common goals at the local, regional and international level.

At the end of the meeting, the FHA committed itself to implementing 7 concrete actions as a follow-up to the Conference. We would like to highlight 4 of them:

  • Building a network of Vincentians working with refugees and internally displaced people by developing webinars and toolkits to share experiences and best practices;
  • Strengthening the advocacy capacity of the Vincentian Family at the local and international level;
  • Providing toolkits and webinars to promote a culture of “encounter” and “accompaniment”;
  • Continuing to encourage the development of “13 Houses” projects around the world.

In order to keep the teachings of the Conference in our hearts, prayers and actions, participants were also invited to reflect on the words of Pope Francis:

Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 2014

For more information on the topics discussed during the meeting, read the FHA Newsletter concerning the Conference, as well as the Closing remarks of the Conference by Mark McGreevy OBE (DePaul Group President), published on the FHA website.

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