The Least Of The Least
Sometimes when I reflect on the mission of Casa de Paz, these words from the book of Matthew come to mind, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” And my attention is drawn especially to these words: “the least of.”
In my mind, that in a nutshell describes the people who arrive at Casa de Paz. Think about it. These women felt they had no hope in their native countries. There was no rule of law. Employment prospects were few and far between. Their communities were ruled by gangs and extortion. They had no choice but to flee.
Arriving in a colder and distant country where an unfamiliar language was spoken, they found themselves without legal status to claim employment or any services. Then, before long, their husbands abused them to a point of desperation. Again they had no choice but to flee.
Now they were truly alone. All their relatives were miles away. They were penniless and unemployed, with young children to care for. They had no place to live, even temporarily. Not only were their English language skills inadequate for employment in a 21st century North American economy, but they also had barely an elementary school education. Making matters worse, they suffered from the psychological effects of constant abuse and violence, and desperately needed counseling to help them recover.
Now we try to help them patch things together over a six-month period. “Patching together” is probably the best description of what we’re doing, for their recovery from their virtual bottomless pit is clearly a years-long process. We can only help them start on the journey.
I wish we had the resources and the organizational heft to give these women and children more help after they leave our nest. That is one of our long-term goals. For now, we help them patch things together and offer communal support and hope as they proceed out into our competitive and often uncaring society. We at Casa de Paz are at the start of a long-term journey, just like the women and children in our care. We too need communal support, and we reach out to all who read these words in hope that you can help us in our mission.