As #LOVEweek continues on The Y Life, what is more powerful than sharing your LOVE through selflessness. One thing that we have taken from this week, is that LOVE does come in all shapes and sizes and if you are sitting there sulking in not having found your ‘LOVE’ quite yet… Y not ask yourself, Y you are storing all of that love, instead of sharing it with those who may just need it MORE!
Since 1976, Amor en Acción has been fulfilling its founding promise, helping those who are most in need, all the while building relationships between humanity and the church, moments to be cherished and experiences to be shared in the universality of faith.
Mission training and nurturing the ministry is a necessary ongoing facet of the Amor en Acción community, in fact this is a reflection on the unique style of mission work ‘AEA’ does. Since the mission first began 40 years ago, Amor en Acción has prepared and sent an estimated 250 travelers to Haiti, in 35 different groups, and 440 travelers to the Dominican Republic in 59 groups, on missions to immerse themselves into the lives of those who are suffering.
Amor en Acción was founded by Adriano Garcia and Alicia Marill in 1965, after returning from separate missions to the Dominican Republic, they felt called by God to dedicate their lives to serving the poor through their missionary work. They founded Amor en Acción (Faith in Action), on the principle that “faith without actions is dead”. Focusing efforts on the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Haiti the mission of this missionary organization has been dedicated in promoting the Catholic faith to impoverished populations inhabiting dense barrios in rural communities in the Caribbean and Central America.
The Dominican Republic (D.R.) occupies the Eastern 2/3 of the island of Hispaniola, located on the Western half of the island is Haiti, which also known as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
The D.R. relies heavily on agriculture and now more so on tourism, but unfortunately the dramatic rates of poverty equates to a dramatic contrast between the rich and poor on the Island… where food is quite costly and there is an increased statistical notation between the jobless and poor of that nation.
Amor en Acción has been actively collaborating for over 20 years in the Diocese of Port de Paix and the parish of Gros-Morne in the Diocese of Gonaive, continually working to end the plight of our Haitian and Dominican brothers and sisters, who find living itself to be a struggle in the truest form. Remaining idle while people are being deprived of life’s basic necessities, placing at risk the God-given dignity that should exist for every human being, is unacceptable. By collaborating their mission efforts with churches in the communities they are servicing, Amor en Acción is able to deliver funding and materials for local programs in nutrition, water, health, education and Emergency Aid during times of crisis and natural disasters via Medical Equipment, Antibiotics, First Aid Supplies and Medical Mission Teams.
Promoting Christian leadership among the people who are facing tremendous poverty and political injustice in barrios where thousands of children and their families are living in cardboard houses or wooden shacks with dirt floors, and no running water has incredulous repercussions on the world as a whole. From the thousands stricken by severe malnutrition, stunted physical development, mental disabilities, blindness and in turn, an increase of death by impaired immune system defenses… these children are trapped by the never-ending cycle of illness and poverty.
According to Amor en Acción, The Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for the Dominican Republic reports that:
45% of children die before the age of 5.
75% of children suffer from malnutrition.
80% of children do not finish primary school.
The Y Life was honored to have the opportunity to chat this week with one of the missionaries for Amor en Acción and we simply asked María Inés Leáñez, to tell us about her experience. Here is her testimony…
“Back in the 70s, the Archdiocese of Miami was receiving lots of immigrants from Haiti and the D.R., so the Archdiocese saw a need to help people in their countries, in order for them stay alive and not be migrants in a foreign country. As a response to that need, Amor en Acción, was created, as a way to help them… So even though, we are in Miami and the funding and help comes from Miami, where we do our job is in their country, in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
It’s done through several ways, helping with nutritional programs, assisting priests, nuns and the church in the Dominican Republic. One way we do it, is through our presence in their communities and more specifically the way I have helped out is doing missions trips… In the D.R. we go to inner city ‘barrios’, inside of little towns like, San Pedro de Macorís and what we do there, is that we set up a summer camp. A camp for the children, that go to a school founded by a Franciscan Nun and throughout the years, since she founded the school she has been receiving support from Amor en Acción, both economically and during mission trips…
That is precisely the kind of work that we do… In essence, what one is doing, is showing solidarity for the people in need and the poor, the children, who need an education and someone to tell them, ‘I am here because, I know about you, and I care about you, your existence is relevant to me, so I come here to step into your shoes, to walk your ways, to step foot into your path and be with you.’ That is the work that we do.
We go there and immerse ourselves in the community, for a period of either one or two weeks… and we do this for children from 3 to 4 years and up to twelve years, we divide in grades, so on and so forth.
What it’s like? The name says it, Amor en Acción, some people are called to show love through monetary support… other people are called to show solidarity by being there, I think it is our Baptismal call to take the good message and see eye to eye, ‘Here I am, I Care About You.’
Now, you may think missionaries go there to save lives, that is not the case, because this is not something concrete, but the experience of them of you and you of them. It is in that exchange and in that promise, where you feel the most human, because even though these people that receive you in this community, are not your family, in fact you have probably never met them before, for some of the missionaries they speak another language, they live in very very different conditions that your own, what surrounds them is totally drastically different, than your own surroundings and references and YET you never feel more human than when you are there, or more at home, even though you are as far away from your comfort zone as possible.
Because essentially what you are doing is connecting in the most humane level with another human being, and that is what makes you feel more human. That is from my perspective. From their perspective, I think it is the idea that, they see that someone has actually gone there, to be with them and that is something that they are grateful for. I have never been thanked more, than when I am on a mission…
Through Amor en Acción, LOVE In Action, it is through this process that you receive the love, but the love that is not just a Valentine gift or something concrete, but rather lessons in gratitude and lessons in solidarity and generosity. It is quite amazing to see, that the poor, even if they have very little to give, they’re willing to give the little that they have to help out the other. It seems to me, that if you could get rid of everything that you have, in order to become a generous person, these people that have very very little, have given me lessons of generosity, like no other.
In reality… you are going there (missions) to be filled with lessons of love and hopefully as you are doing an act of love as well!”
This week, The Y Life has tried to introduce you to new ways, to share your LOVE with the world… We hope that if for nothing else, it has opened your heart to other outlets for your LOVE!
Amor en Acción is always welcome to those willing to help the organization continue its mission work, whether that may be financially, with your time or with mission travel.
To Learn more about ‘Amor En Accion’ Click HERE