Mireille Yoga at the Edimar Center in Yaoundé, Cameroon

"The same things I live for”

An initiative for the AVSI Tents Campaign that due to the pandemic had to be thought out in a new format. Yet it surprised everyone, from the organizers to the three hundred people connected online to listen to our friend Mireille from Cameroon.

For many years, together with a group of friends, I have organised an event for the ASVI Tents Campaign in a well-tested "format": dinner with a traditional local menu, a testimony and a raffle. This year, due to Covid, this was obviously cancelled. We met to figure out if and what we could do, and it seemed impossible, given the situation, to do something nice that would be worth spending time organising. Yet we accepted the challenge, trying to move away from our usual “format”, and after working on it together for a while, we came up with the idea of proposing an online meeting, with a testimony and a game.

For the testimony, one of our friends suggested asking Mireille of the Edimar Center in Yaoundé, Cameroon, a place which welcomes children off the street. She immediately agreed. It was a huge surprise for us organizers, we did not expect it but it happened. About 300 people from all over Italy and the Ivory Coast, as well as Mireille from Cameroon, attended the event. Her testimony was very powerful, not only for what she has been doing for 20 years, but for the intensity of her humanity. She spoke to me, through her story, about the same things I live for. The physical distance between us, our different skin color, culture, the social and political situations in our countries, did not stand in the way.

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Among the many things she recounted, she said one that struck me the most: "This time of Covid had been an opportunity for me to discover Christ’s great companionship in my life, given to me through so many people, including you, without whom I would be lost." We, so far away, are companionship for her! At the end of the evening, which ended with a nice prize draw, in a totally unexpected way we collected a sum of money that we had never reached in previous years.

Francesco, Bologna, Italy