We share a common present

26 01 2009

Interview with Xavier Jeyaraj SJ

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Xavier Jeyaraj SJ

Xavier Jeyaraj SJ

The sessions began today with a few words to remember the celebration of Republic Day of India. We joined this celebration by presenting today a conversation with Xavier Jeyaraj, the Coordinator of the social apostolate in South Asia. He has led to Belem and the Pre-Forum a delegation of 29 persons, men and women from different parts of India. The group has already made an impact among all participants and has worked hard to prepare the presentation of an experience describing the situation of tribals and Dalits in India. It is not easy to catch Xavier even for a short interview. His spare time, as he acknowledges, is taken now by the preparation of a shared public session at the World Social Forum with the group of indigenous people from the Amazonia. They want to show that globalization has brought the same havoc to dalits and tribals in India as well as to the indigenous communities of the Amazon region. Between one sandwich and a cup of tea, I asked him whether, two days in Belem, he was satisfied.

After talking to some members of the delegation, Xavier feels quite happy especially on this second day. Many acknowledged that they were struck by seeing other people like them fighting for land; by realizing that other men and women have also been displaced from their homes and lands by the same type of forces, even though they may have different faces. This has helped in the realization that they are not alone, that the issues they face have a global character, and that they are not an exception or an unfortunate accident. Many in the Indian group have been touched, Xavier confessed, by the way other groups have talked about the role faith plays in their lives, Faith seems to have been a strong force to sustain their lives and struggles. This ‘faith’ element acquires for some of the Indian members of the delegation, a new relevance and dimension; they have, quite often, seen their own lives as a continuous and somewhat barren and dead struggle against external and even internal odds. Language is a barrier for many in the group, but tribal and dalit women have been able to touch and embrace women from other parts of the world to communicate and receive love, concern and understanding. They know they are not alone, and they know they have hope in a new future.

 SAPI delegation at Pre-Forum

SAPI delegation at Pre-Forum

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