Having just arrived in Bogota for the AIC International Assembly in March 2020, Selina, a member of AIC Venezuela, learned that the meeting had been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was the beginning of an incredible adventure that would last almost 10 months. In the end, due to the closure of the borders and other difficulties, Selina could not return home until January 2021.
She found refuge in the Provincial House of the Daughters of Charity in Bogotá, where the Assembly should have been held. For a few days, or so she thought…
She was warmly welcomed and supported by the Sisters. She discovered and shared the life of the community. She lived their charism, an unforgettable experience:
“I arrived in Bogota for a few days […] and I shared months of work, prayer, reflection and encounter with the purity and truth of our Charism, the teachings of Saint Louise to her Daughters […]. In those nine months, I had an experience that I never imagined I would have. Not only because I was so far from my family […], but also because I shared the daily life of my Sisters, the Daughters of Charity: the same house, the same meals, the same joys and sorrows. And above all, sharing a small part of their spiritual life, praying with them, […], Lauds, Vespers and the great blessing of being able to participate in the Holy Eucharist, presided over by our brothers of the Congregation of the Mission.”
With the enthusiasm and dynamism that she is known for, Selina fully invested herself from the very beginning: she collaborated with the cheerful young Sisters in the preparation of the celebration for the renewal of their vows; she worked in the kitchen, where everything was done with love, discipline and dedication; then she discovered the “other side of the coin” at the Miraculous Medal Day Centre, which welcomes homeless people. Even though during the pandemic the centre’s activities were limited to the distribution of 300 meals a day, seeing up close the poverty, abandonment, disregard and loneliness in which these people live was a very difficult experience. But it was also a demonstration of dedication and love for the most vulnerable people:
“To live and feel this experience for months, always having something to give, is the most beautiful manifestation of a firm faith in Divine Providence. I have been a volunteer for many years, but after what I have experienced here, I can now say in prayer to Saint Vincent: “This is your Lady of Charity”.”
It is Faith and total trust in God and the Miraculous Virgin that has enabled the Daughters of Charity to overcome the very difficult times that the pandemic has forced them to confront. In their various projects “where the human being is central and the dynamic is love”, their objective has always been to offer a better life to the most disadvantaged people, as Selina discovered:
- At the Miraculous Medal Day Centre, where they initiated a project to reintegrate people into society through education and systemic change so that they can have a decent life
- At the Nazareth Social Centre, where they work with AIC volunteers to welcome people displaced by armed conflict
- At the “Dreamers’ House” project, where they offer support and assistance to unemployed people, immigrants and low-income families.
Back home, Selina is eternally grateful to the community of the Daughters of Charity in Bogotá: “My family and I can never thank you enough for your affection, love, support and generosity towards us. GOD BLESS YOU”.
AIC joins Selina in thanking in particular Sister Cecilia Triana González, Provincial Visitatrix, and Father Alvaro Mauricio Fernández, Provincial Director, as well as the whole community for their warm and encouraging presence as they accompanied our fellow volunteer throughout her stay.