“Some Arrive Demolished”: In Paris, Sister Marie-Jo Welcomes Migrants

But sister Marie-Jo is formal: "some sleep outside with children".

"Some Arrive Demolished": In Paris, Sister Marie-Jo Welcomes Migrants - Surge Zirc
Sister Marie-Jo of the Solidarité Notre-Dame de Tangier association welcomes migrant women in Paris on December 17, 2018/Photo file: afp

It is an overheated local where migrants come to regain strength: at the permanence of Sister Marie-Jo, in the nineteenth arrondissement of Paris, special attention is given to women, who try to forget with their baby a terrible course and a precarious daily life.

Up to 90 people – Eritreans, Ivorians … – come every afternoon to the local, in the basement of the Notre-Dame des Foyers church, where some thirty volunteers take turns to distribute meals, clothes, and administrative and psychological help.

The stories are similar to those of all migrants who roam today in Paris. “I sleep outside, door of the Chapel, the police come every morning, between 7 and 8 o’clock, they tell us to leave,” said Mustafa, a Sudanese.

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“Many people are crazy, they somatize a lot.The violence is physical but also moral,” says sister Marie-Jo, who manages with a stainless energy the permanence of the association.

But it is above all the situation of women that challenges. “All are vulnerable, but when we take the responsibility of a family it is more serious”. But “some arrive demolished,” sighs the Cameroonian nun, who testifies to the “terrible weight” left by the crossing of the Mediterranean: “one question and they burst into tears.They let them cry. Other do not speak, and it’s bad”.

Because “from Libya they are locked up, and used as sexual slaves.When they see that the belly pushes a lot, they are told: go out!” adds the nun.

A woman carries her daughter on the premises of the association Solidarité Notre-Dame de Tangier in Paris on December 17, 2018/Photo credit: afp

“In these young women who will give birth, the baby is often the result of rape,” said Vincent Staub, president of the association Solidarity Our Lady of Tangier who has accompanied twenty pregnancies this year.

“Libya, bad, bad”, shows with a big movement of the hand Martha, a nervous Eritrean face, came to get milk powder for her son Daniele, in a sling on his back.

– Saved by Aquarius –

Children play in the hallway, babies sleep in the arms of their mothers. “The register has 70 babies” explains Sister Geneviève, a former nun who distributes small pots or layers with a kind word for each.

“They all ask for a size 5, as if it would make more use! And for them, shampoo and + Modesses, bambinesses +, ie sanitary napkins.Some do without, I do not know how” she sighs.

This Thursday, Annick, a volunteer, is preparing a suitcase for two twins whose birth is imminent. Rugs, bonnets, tiny gloves, bodysuits … “We miss very small sizes, babies are very small at birth, even if they grow quickly because they are fed anyway,” he adds. -she.

Annick took under her wing a young Ivorian woman, “with a scary liability”, locked up more than a year in Libya “in the dark” with her baby son, fed with “a few rations of rice a week” and rescued from a sinking by the Aquarius.

A mother and her child at the premises of the association Solidarité Notre-Dame de Tangier in Paris on December 17, 2018/Photo credit:afp

Yet the young woman arrives, radiant smile on the face, his new baby of a month in the arms. “It’s like family here, without them I do not know how I would do it,” she explains.

“All would need psychological help, this is not the case,” sighs Annick.

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Some women who have been rejected from the asylum have been there for two years, others have just arrived. Most are housed at the social hotel. But sister Marie-Jo is formal: “some sleep outside with children”.

“The help should be automatic but it is not the case, we do not know why,” adds the nun who “fights at the level of the administration”, and wants a lot to the Dublin settlement that entrusts the country the examination of the asylum application.

If they miss the appointment for their removal, “they remove all help for asylum seeker and they have nothing.I do not understand where is the human aspect,” says the nun. But according to her, the report is general: for all migrants, “in Paris the situation is deteriorating” for a year.

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