In Uvira, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Community of Sant'Egidio opened the first "Family-Home" for the elderly of the country. Four elders will be hosted: Thérese of 70, Cecilie of 74, Fidèle of 82 and Jeannette of 76.
This is an important sign, as pointed out at the opening by Bishop Sebastien Muyengo Mulombe, recalling the words of Pope Francis on the importance of caring for the elderly and the value it has in assessing the level of a civilization.
The condition of the elderly in the Democratic Republic of Congo in general and in Uvira particular is indeed dramatic. Only in 2014, there were at least 10 lynchings against the elderly on charges of "witchcraft". Just a death in the family, a young man that dies and immediately elders are blamed for it and kicked out of the house and put on the street. In the worst case, they are killed by the crowd of family, the luckiest ones are found begging on the street. It is an inhuman system that does not hide material interests: in fact, keeping the elderly away also means getting hold, easily and with impunity, of the houses and the lands they own. The throw-away culture that afflicts Western societies – of which Pope Francis often speaks – strikes also Africa legitimising, unfortunately, violence towards the last and the weak.
Marie Claire Kabala, of the Community of Sant'Egidio, during the inauguration, reminded the elderly killed by lynching and how this house opened at Easter is also a sign of the Resurrection. "The stones of this house are founded on love, a love that is stronger than death." A concrete sign of hope to disseminate and communicate, for a culture of living together that does not exclude anyone any more.