Log-book: March 2006
Surprise visit Quick evacuation Liechtenstein Visit of TV studios
A Canadian television team came to film my recollections on people with no official documents. It was pleasant and everything went on as planned.
- At the end of the interview, the cameraman told me: " What a pity that we were unable to reach Emmanuelle Béart who had joined, in the past, the cause of people with no official documents!
- "I kindly told him that the famous movie actress lived not far. This little secret triggered their desire to meet her.
We arrived at a gate that opens with a secret code. There was still another obstacle to go through: the intercom. How lucky, Emmanuelle was there and invited me to open the garden door.
" I am not alone, Emmanuelle, three Canadians are with me ". The answer is friendly: " Please come in ". My television friends had the feeling of coming in paradise.
A young man, Marc, is present. He cannot get over this sudden barbaric intrusion.
Emmanuelle reassured him. She told him that 10 years ago we had slept in Saint Bernard Church, then occupied by people with no official papers to prevent their expulsion by the police.
The actress welcomed us as if we had been expected and had nothing else to do. The television crew is overjoyed to be able to produce the unexpected interview. As for Marc, I felt he still did not approve surprise visits!
I went to visit in the Parisian suburbs, 34 people with no official documents who had started their 38th day of a hunger strike. They were on mattresses in a large hall: most of these men and women came from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Their faces were tired and sad. There was a heavy silence.
- I knelt in front of each man and each woman lying on their mattress. I held their hand and listened to them.
These people with no official documents smiled willingly as I told them: " I never kneel as much as I do in front of you!"
A woman was glad to show me her wonderful baby of two months.
A hunger striker seemed very weak to me. " You are young!" I told him. He replied:
" and a desperate young man ". His name was Salah. I will never forget his face.
After half an hour, I was still kneeling on a mattress and the time for my visit was almost over when suddenly policemen appeared suddenly in the room: " We have orders to evacuate you." The policeman chief proposed me to speak to them so that everything went well. I refused.
The hunger strikers were too weak to offer any resistance. Salah did not move. He was too weak to stand up.
Three police officers put him on board. A man cried. He told me that his daughter was in the hospital and he did not know what would become of her.
The police were around a hundred. Everything went on quickly. The people with no official documents were packed into the cars. They did not know where they were being taken. Unknown destination.
Situated between Austria and Switzerland, Liechtenstein has a monastery where Christians, coming sometimes from very far away, like to gather and recharge their batteries. At the Austrian border, there is also a convent of the Comboni mission that offers a space of liberty where many people go. In this winter season, snowy mountains to my great enchantment surround these two places.
Once again, I make the experience of the ground-root Church that has a stunning vitality. Communication, friendship and prayer mark our meetings.
Are we not people of words and communication? We develop from meetings and communication with each other. We suffer very much when lonely and rejected because there is no more communication. A participant said: " When becoming Christians, do we become more human ? "
We live in a culture of success where life is like a combat with each other. Competition is the driving force of every one. We think that competition is the driving force to progress. It is important to win the other over, to dominate.
Very different were our meetings. The diversity of languages and cultures favoured a living together that one cannot forget. As the slogan : " No walls between people. No people between the walls. "
Visit of TV studios
I went to Normandy, in Caen, for a television interview. I was greeted with pleasure by the interviewer at the station. The chauffeur was waiting and we took the direction of the city centre to have lunch in a pub. Good idea since it was cold and I was hungry.
I appreciated the tour of this large television station. It is new, modern and lets the natural light come in. What interest me most are the people.
I like to greet each person in his work environment and take the time to listen to him or her. In this " sanctuary " where we find all the controls and where information arrives from around the word, I admired the concentration and the quick decisions of those who are in front of the cameras.
The world is not a collection of objects but a set of links. Everyone is linked.
A woman shows me the archives. " All the information is stocked in this computer. " She types my name on the screen. " You have come here 13 times. Here are the dates, and the subjects you spoke about. ". 13 times! It seemed to me a lot ! But it is the last time that I will come.
It is time for the make-up session. I abandon myself in the hands of the make-up girl. In closing my eyes, I remember a word from the philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas: " the others pass in front of me, I am for the others. "