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Community Lavalla200> Atlantis

La Valla 200>

02/07/2018: South Africa

The International community Lavalla200> Atlantis is formed by 4 members: Brother Pietro Bettin (Italy), Brother Nnodu Onwutalu (Nigeria), Brother Tony Clark (Australia) and María Bobillo Añel (Spain).  Atlantis is a city situated at 40 kilometers from Cape Town (South Africa) which was created around the years 70 during the time of the Apartheid.  It is a town where the majority of the inhabitants are mestizos and with a significant young population.  It is there where a new Marist presence has established itself in the African continent.    

Sometimes it is said that what is good keeps one waiting.  We waited 8 months until all the community was complete. Pietro advanced more and arrived to South Africa in September, María in the month of October, Tony in March and Nnodu, the one we were waiting for, finally arrived in April. 

The first six months until Tony arrived, the Brothers of the School of Cape Town accepted us in their community.  Those were months for learning to wait, to begin to move around (seeking for a house, buying an auto, beginning to enter into contact with Atlantis…), months of community life and of discovering, through the stories of the Brothers the richness of the African continent.    We are truly very grateful for the welcome and acceptance and for the shared experiences during those months.  For us, we are very lucky to be able to count with another Marist community here so close to us.  It was very nice to be able to see one another from time to time, to share moments and activities and to be a mutual support for one another.       

April was really a month intense in activity, emotions, visits, and changes.  With the arrival of Nnodu, we moved to the house which is now our house, and a few days later arrived some visits.   Angel Medina and Jeff Crowe, our Brothers who accompanied us from Rome, arrived first and spent here a week seeing for themselves how we were, and helping us to recall the why of our Marist presence here, concretely in Atlantis and also enjoying the wonders that Cape Town offers.     

In April also the family of María arrived (who left very happy, enchanted seeing her so well accompanied), and then the visit of Brother Norbert (Provincial of South Africa), to whom we can really be very grateful for his support and care.  

With the month of May arrived something of the “routine” to our lives, which in a certain sense we have also maintained throughout the month of June.  Tony, Nnodu and Maria, we all began classes of Afrikaans in a language school.  We go every day for 3 hours and with the help of 2 Professors, little by little we are beginning to speak somewhat in that language.  It is certain that progress is slow, but we do consider it important to be able to communicate with the people of Atlantis in their mother tongue.   When we try to do it they are surprised and above all, they appreciate it.  Luckily, the majority speaks English also and this has been an advantage for us, to be able to communicate with them from the beginning.    

Already in the months of January/February, we began to enter into contact with different Organizations and youth groups of Atlantis, which work in favor of children and young people.  The first surprise was to meet a good number of Organizations which are already developing this work and besides the acceptance on their part could not have been better.  

And now for a period of two months we have already been collaborating as volunteers with several organizations. This helps us to be in contact with young people, to know at first hand their reality, their dreams, and concerns and also to make ourselves known in the community of Atlantis.  And also to gradually know the real needs and begin to draw a future Marist Project there. 

We are also in contact with the Parish of Atlantis and they are the ones who have proposed to us to organize a week of activities during the school holidays of the month of July.  These past weeks, we have been planning and preparing everything.  We feel the emotion of being able to organize something ourselves, intrigued waiting to see how all this will come out, and grateful for the responses received and with great desire and feeling anxious to begin.     

We would also like to mention the support received from the Saint Joseph’s Marist College.  The Professors, the Administration Team of the school, the Brothers of the community… always receive us with a smile and offer us their collaboration.    We have been present in the celebrations of the centenary of the School; on the Day of saint Marcellin and some of the professors have even collaborated with our community giving us things for the house.  For this holiday program we have invited the pupils from the higher courses to collaborate with us as animators.  We believe this will be beneficial for all, for them to get close to a reality which is not theirs, and for us, to be able to count on volunteers to accompany the children in the different activities.   And at the same time, we open a door for future collaborations, which no doubt will come.

And community life, little by little is getting formed.  We are getting to know one another and to adapt to one another.  We seek to have common moments and personal moments, times for doing and times for being.  We are careful to respect differences and to learn to understand the other.

And now during the month of July, after the program of the holidays for the young people of Atlantis, we hope to dedicate some time to reflect on where we can direct our Project and to be capable of knowing intuitively which is our call and our mission here.

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La Valla 200>