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April 22 2016 | BLANTYRE, MALAWI

A house of friendship for a common future: the inauguration of the new house of Sant'Egidio in Blantyre

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The house of the Community of Sant'Egidio was inaugurated, together with many young people, elderly, children of the Schools of Peace, activists of the movement I Dream, and political and religious authorities of the country.

The house will host the meetings of the youth, it will have a library and a cultural center, a welcome place for street children who will have a chance to eat, wash, get clean clothes and rest. Beside the house is a large church which will be completed in the coming months.

The house is located in the center of Blantyre, easily accessible from all parts of the city. In the presence of the ambassador of Italy in Malawi, who praised the commitment of the Community for the development of Malawi, Marco Impagliazzo has spoken of a "house of friendship", that is open to every people and where every Malawian could find prayer, friendship and solidarity.

The ceremony ended with the ribbon cutting and uncovering the plaque "House of the Community of Sant'Egidio", followed by a long party with songs and lively dances by the Youth for Peace.

These are the words of Marco Impagliazzo

Today is a day of celebration for the Community of Sant'Egidio in Malawi and around the world for the opening of the house in Blantyre. It is a day of celebration because making a home means taking root in a society, in a country, in a place. Today Sant'Egidio is even more Malawian. I say it with pride and with respect to a country to which we are linked by years of deep friendship with her children, her youth, her adults, and her elders. The presence of Sant'Egidio in Malawi begins in 1999, when a young Elard Alumando and some of his friends met the Community in the first Pan-African conference that took place in Zomba. We held it in Zomba to favor the presence of Mozambican brothers who still struggled to travel in Mozambique a few years after the war, after the signing of peace in Sant'Egidio in 1992.
That meeting of Zomba was providential. From then on this good land of Malawi, from that seed, grew a large tree with many branches among which many birds find shelter, as it is written in the Gospel. They are the branches of our communities in the towns and villages from the South to the North of the country, they are the branches of the children in the schools of peace, they are the braches of the elderly who find a family in the Community, they are the branches of many sick women and men who found salvation and healing in the Dream program, they are the braches of many children born healthy to HIV-positive mothers who live today with their mothers who are cared for by the program, they are the branches of the women and men of IDream movement who work every day to overcome the stigma of AIDS, they are the children who today exist because they are registered at the Bravo programfor civil registration. They are also the branches of the health centers and nutritional centers that are connected to Dream program. It is the branch of the St. Vincent de' Paoli parish in Chasunda in the Diocese of Blantyre. They are also the young people who have found in the Gospel of Jesus their true wealth and strive to build a better world, where we can live together in peace among different people.
This is Sant'Egidio in Malawi. It is life, it is hope, it is joy, it is the future, it is family. It is a good spirit! It is good news! Now let me thank all the members of the Community, from the oldest to the youngest who work , without being paid, every day for the good of Malawians and of Malawi. Yes, without being paid, as the blessed Jesus says: " You received without payment; give without payment." This is how the Community has grown in recent years, this is how we want it in the future. The first one that I would like to thank today, is Elard Alumando, our national coordinator and a member of the worldwide Community of Sant'Egidio Presidential Council. I bring his greetings from the clinic in Johannesburg where he is hospitalized. Thanks Elard, we're close to you in this moment of trial for your life but we have a great hope that soon you can come back among us with your wisdom and your friendship. We always pray for you, we send our warmest wishes for prompt healing.
I would also like to thank  archbishop Msusa who, with intelligence and sympathy follows and accompanies our journey in this city, as well as archbishop Ziyaye who supported without hesitation our ecclesial journey. I thank the central government authorities of Malawi, those of the district and of the city of Blantyre. Your presence shows the high degree of collaboration between the government of this country and our community that every day is enriched with new goals and projects for the good of the Malawian people. I thank you who actually designed and built this beautiful building. Beauty is a sign of respect for those who meet it.
Setting up a house has a deep meaning in every culture. At all latitudes it has the sense of stability for a family. Today the family of Sant'Egidio has even deeper roots in this country. Like a marriage. Yes, this is our intention. The house - and the Church that we will consecrate in the future in agreement with the diocese - will be open places, of friendship, of solidarity, culture and prayer.
Every Malawian can find here prayer, friendship, solidarity. There needs to be much friendship in our society is in our world. These are difficult times internationally. War is a sad companion of too many peoples, violence makes societies insecure, terrorism remains a threat for many. We must build new relationships of friendship between people, but also among peoples. This is what Sant'Egidio wants to be in Malawi, in Africa and everywhere: a place of friendship, a culture of friendship, a way of friendship. Because the only way to overcome violence, war and terror is friendship. Friendship heals divided and violent hearts, it cures the wounds, friendship brings so much hope, friendship is the good company we all seek. Friendship is the future, war and violence are the past. This house of friendship is our common future!


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