Heart’s Home recently opened a new center in a deprived area of Valparaiso, Chile.
Located in the district of Playa Ancha, the Heart’s Home center is run by a team of three missionaries from France and Argentina. Here’s how their mission started:
“We have started to travel through the district. This one is very lively, with many children playing in the street or in inflatable swimming pools in front of their homes. We have made the acquaintance of the “pescadores”, a group of middle-aged alcoholics who gather every day and drink at the end of our street.
We also see young people demanding a toll from passenger vehicles in exchange for a promise to leave them alone. Others, walk back and forth in a hurry with dubious cargo. There are still about ten evangelical churches compared to just one Catholic chapel which does not have a real presence. The chapel at our Heart’s Home will thus be the only place offering a Eucharistic Presence.
The district’s chapel is located in a place that is quite difficult for the elderly or the many infirm of the area to access. Indeed, it is necessary to climb a steep and seemingly endless staircase, as there are many on the hillsides of Playa Ancha. At night this chapel is transformed into a meeting place for young people gathering to use drugs, which are quite easy to obtain in the neighborhood.
These days, Odette and Erica (members of the chapel) introduce us to various people whom they no longer have any time to visit, in particular the ailing and the elderly.
The first person that we met was Margarita, our neighbor from across the street who has eight children and numerous grandchildren, many of whom share her three-room house. We also met Teresita and her husband Jaime who live two houses down from ours. Teresita has suffered for five years from arthrosis, which forces her to remain confined to her bed. Her husband takes care of her and also of their son who suffers from mental problems; he is very aggressive and scares off the neighbors who do not dare to visit Teresita anymore.
We also have made the acquaintance of the family of Claudia, who at 34 is a victim of breast cancer; she has six children from several men. Her daughters Claudia and Talia, who are 12 and 11 years old, guide us during our visits, introducing us to the neighborhood and to some of their friends. Sometimes we are also joined by Pato and Noelia, the two youngest siblings. Among so many others, these three families have particularly touched us.
This is how we have begun our “misión”!”