"Think of me when you see a migrant in your community"
Quote from a participant of the conference who happens to also be a migrant
Caritas Asia organized the Asia Regional Conference for Caritas’ global campaign “Share the Journey” in Bangkok, Thailand, on 11-13 June 2018. The conference was attended by 105 staff of the Caritas Member Organizations in Asia, Global Partners, CI, and Caritas network in Asia, including Archbishop Isao Kikuchi, the President of Caritas Asia, and Mr. Michel Roy, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis.
After the opening Mass, Archbishop Isao shared in his opening remarks, “This year’s forum is anchored on our Confederation’s global migration campaign, “Share the Journey”. We have chosen this as our theme, because it is very fitting for our region. Asia also hosts the largest undocumented flow of migrants in the world, mainly between neighboring countries. This phenomenon indeed demonstrates just how big of a thing migration is in our region.”
Cardinal Tagle, who could not attend the event in Asia, sent an inspiring recorded message from Brazil to participants of the Conference. He shared, “I have a journey. You have a journey. By that encounter, we hope we can share the journey. We can walk together. We can protect one another. We can promote the human dignity of the migrant. We can defend them, and we can integrate them into the wider society.”
Mr. Michel Roy, in his keynote address shared the concrete realization that we are one human family. Another realization was that even people born in a difficult place, should be able to live a dignified life. And thus, here is an invitation for all of us to grow with others, regardless of the affluence or depressed areas.
He added that Caritas is called to transform the world, to humanize the world and put the human first. We can also serve to inspire the world. The quality of Caritas’ engagement is the barometer of our own humanity. This translates into the way we meet and welcome migrants and this will bring the collective consciousness to a higher level so that the efforts will go on even after the campaign.
Following the keynote address, Nuncio Paul Tschang launched the Share the Journey exhibition from the four sub regions in Asia.
Later in the day, Leeza of Caritas India, also representing CI Global Campaign Working Group, shared during her presentation how international migration has become one of the greatest challenges of our time and it is a crisis, not in the crisis of migration, but as a crisis of global solidarity.
Father John Murray of NCCM-Caritas Thailand, also reminded the conference participants during his presentation on the 20 Action Points --The Church’s Principles and Guidelines on Working with Migrants and Refugees,“We are much more than just an NGO, as we work to help people and build a better world. We have a firm foundation; our faith. So these 20 action points which are principles for our action with and for migrants remain ever in place, knowing them to be not just unreachable goals in some ideal reality”.
The conference participants engaged in group discussions on migration issues and initiatives in the region, which was followed by presentation sharing from the four sub regions in Asia on what their plans to contribute to the Global Week of Action.
The reality of the cause for the global campaign took shape as participants listened to the sharing from seven migrant workers and urban refugees who found their way to Thailand. These brave people represented the unspoken heroes of the campaign. Although it was upsetting to learn that migrants have been through much hardship and endured unimaginable pain, and there was still fear in their hearts, they had pushed through in search of positive change. Most have learnt to empower themselves, and find ways to make a living and care forothers:
“As an immigrant, I learnt to be a hustler to survive, and importantly, now I learn how to teach in order to support the community. Anger and vengeance takes too much from a person; drains you of energy and it is not motivating. So now, every day I am turning my negatives into positives”
Share the Journey is a Caritas led global campaign aimed at bringing migrants and communities closer together. The 2-year campaign was launched by Pope Frances on 27 September 2017 from St. Peter’s Square in Rome. For more on Share the Journey, please visit journey.caritas.org.