“I only regret one thing”, says the young Elena, “and that is that I did not dare to let my tears flow”. During the After Action Review on this mornings SALT visit to a Roman Catholic Community in Samara (Russia) I see a new Elena. After this SALT visit she is full of energy and sees a new way forward for herself and the people around her.
The day before she was still restless and admitted she was not fully at ease in the room at the Knowledge Fair in her city. In a group exercise where we ask her what she is proud of she says with her head down that she has nothing to be proud of. I tell her I see a strong woman. Elena is from Samara, as a former IDU she went a long way – building on her strengths and those of a few people around her, and God she says. She is now helping others in a rehabilitation center and she is standing along side her boyfriend Anton, who has just discovered he is HIV positive. To my surprise, she is quickly taking the lead in the conversations at the Catholic Community. By sharing her own vulnerability through her story, she opens up the harts of the women of the Catholic Community. “I have never been in touch with drugs or HIV before”, says a young lady. “But now that I know your story, your problem is mine”. All agree there is a contribution to make. The sister next to her adds: “When you arrived in our room, I was happy. Now I am grateful. I know that our journey together has only started. We are maybe not doctors or experts, but as believers we can contribute by standing by those who suffer. We can offer our love and we can lend our ears”. Elena swallows the lump in her throat. And so do I.
Foto: Application time. Walking back from the SALT visit at the Catholic Community. Elena and Nasiba making plans to connect Catholic and Islamic youth for the AIDS response in their city. Further down the road Elena and Anton, holding hands, supporting each other. Picture by Ian Campbell.
The Constellation vidéo, where we journey in less then 2 minutes from space, through nature, to villages, in homes and back while exploring what the Constellation stands for. Thank YOU for being part of it.