Rome (Agenzia Fides) - "When you are on a mission in a land like Afghanistan, you cannot evangelize in a traditional manner. Over the years we would have liked to be bearers of the message of the Gospel, but we could do it only by setting a good example, trying to live properly as indicated in the Holy Scriptures". This is the testimony given to Agenzia Fides by Sister Mariam de Jesus, one of the Little Sisters of Jesus with nearly a 50-year-long experience in Afghanistan.
The nuns of the Women's Institute founded in 1939 by Magdeleine de Jésus, following the path traced by Charles de Foucauld, arrived in Kabul for the first time in July 1954 and, from the following year, began working as a nurse at the government hospital in the Capital. Sr. Mariam reports: "Afghan people are famous for their hospitality. We were welcomed in an extraordinary way and, during the most difficult times of the war, we had many local friends ready to take risks to help us".
The Little Sisters, in fact, remained in the Afghan territory both during the Russian occupation of 1979, and during the civil war which started in 1992, moving from Kabul solely to work in the refugee camps of Jalalabad. Sister Mariam explains that, even after the arrival of the Taliban, in 1996, they chose to continue to serve in hospitals wearing the burqa to go unnoticed: "When they ask me if it was difficult to live with the war, I reply that it depended on the days. Sometimes I was very scared. But during all these years I felt strong because God never abandoned me. I learned to live day by day, and every minute of my life in Afghanistan was truly lived, thanks to God's protection".
Sister Mariam returned to Switzerland in 2016, when the Institute made the decision to stop its mission in Afghanistan due to the lack of young vocations: "It was very difficult to come back to life in the West, because the lifestyle is very different . In Kabul, people share, put the little that is available to be shared by everyone. Life is a little simpler and more natural: we always eat together, we do not worry about having a trendy phone. People live their own little life and, in many ways, are happier than us, despite the war".
Afghanistan, a 99% Muslim country, currently hosts a single parish, with headquarters in the Italian Embassy in Kabul, attended by about a hundred people, almost exclusively members of the international diplomatic community.
In the Capital the "Pro Bambini of Kabul" inter-congregational organization of religious women and the Sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta are operative. Moreover, in the country, social and educational works have been initiated by the Indian Jesuits of the Jesuit Refugees Service and other Christian-inspired organizations. (LF) (Agenzia Fides, 25/6/2018)