We live in a world, the world of today. The lives and work of the brothers also take place in the frameworks of today's social structures. The brothers want to be present wherever the need is.
Walk-in lunch (Elim community, the Netherlands)
Over a million Dutch people feel very lonely. Often, it is the elderly, or people with a very low income, or immigrants who had to leave their friends and family behind. Loneliness has consequences for health, well-being and participation in society. In the Elim community there is a walk-in lunch every Tuesday and Thursday. Anyone who wants to share a lunch together with others, known or unknown, just joins at around noon. This way, the initiators hope to give attention to people who feel lonely and need some contact. The neighbourhood is multicultural. Every lunch is opened with a prayer that can be prayed by all religions. The organization is in the hands of the Brother Andreas Parish, the Sisters SCMM, and the brothers of the Elim community.
OIP Aids project (Oyugis, Kenya)
In Oyugis, Kenya, the brothers started an outpatient clinic. The number of disease cases treated there increased very fast with the rapid spread of AIDS in the 1980s. They realized that the work could not be limited to the care for the sick and therefore they started the Oyugis Integrated Project (OIP) in 1996, which aims at an integrated approach. First of all, there is a shelter for many orphans: not in a separate orphanage, but through helping their relatives take care of them. The congregation also supports many AIDS widows and widowers, people who have lost their partner and are sometimes sick as well. In addition, the brothers are organizing information campaigns so that the disease does not make other victims. Finally, there is of course also medical care for people who are often in a very bad physical condition. The OIP is an extensive project with about 20 staff and, in addition, many volunteers. It cares for more than 4000 orphans. There are various OIP circles of friends from the Netherlands and Belgium who collect money for the project, but also provide support in other ways.
Shelter for refugees (De Vuurhaard, the Netherlands)
Refugees who want to start a second procedure in the Netherlands, or are at the end of their procedure and cannot return to their own country, have nowhere to go to in the Netherlands. The community of De Vuurhaard offers temporary shelter to refugees. The type of help can vary according to the needs. For example, we offer not only hospitality, but also legal support and, if necessary, medical care. We ensure that the children get education and in addition we help all our guests, if necessary, to learn the Dutch language. The people only stay temporarily in our shelter, but we do notice how much it helps them to get some breathing space and rest for a while and to be treated with kindness and respect.
An important activity in this regard is the restaurant that the brothers organize once a week with the refugees and a circle of volunteers. The restaurant combines different objectives. First of all, it is an activity for the refugees we help and who often have had long periods at other shelters where there was nothing for them to do. In addition, it is a way to ensure contact between the refugees and the Dutch people. After the meal, we always tell our visitors something about the situation of refugees in the Netherlands and in the world, and also in other ways we ask for attention for their problems. Finally, we also receive some gifts with which we can cover the costs of food and shelter.
Microcredits (Nias, Indonesia)
On the island of Nias, Brother Ad Hems started in 1985 a bank that offers microcredits to small farmers and craftsmen. This Credit Union is a cooperative bank and has proven its value over the years. Currently, many thousands of farmers and small entrepreneurs are connected to the bank. They have taken small loans at low interest rates, thus making an investment in their business. The Credit Union is one of the means to boost the economy and society in this poor area of Indonesia and enables sustainable development. The model introduced by the brothers on Nias is now being followed in some of the surrounding islands in Indonesia.
The island of Nias was a heavily affected area after the devastating tsunami in 2004 and the earthquakes in 2005. The Credit Union has contributed to the recovery and reconstruction following these disasters.
Children's village Cidade dos Meninos (Coronel Fabriciano, Brazil)
North of Belo Horizonte, in the city of Coronel Fabriciano, the brothers are in charge of a special village for children called, Cidade dos Meninos. Together with others, the brothers offer a home in this village to about 30street children from 0 to 18 years old. The children live there, receive clothes and meals, go to school and get assistance with their homework. These are children who have no family to live with, or are assigned there by the courts. Without shelter in the children’s village, they would have no place to go.
In the children’s village, which is on a large site, courses are also provided for the people from the city, such as sewing, handicrafts and computer skills. There is also a day care centre for about 50 children from 0 to 5 years old.
Child care in Casa Apoio (Belo Horizonte, Brazil)
The brothers in Belo Horizonte are also closely involved in some children’s homes of the Irmão Sol Foundation. This foundation has several care centers for children who are less well-off at home: the foundation offers homes where these children can live with host parents and houses where they can stay before and after school to do their homework, to play together and to get some personal attention. The houses are managed by professionals who work together with the brothers and a group of volunteers. One of the houses, Casa Apoio, is located near the Padre Eustáquio school.
Enjoying a meal in Cidade dos Meninos, Coronel Fabriciano (2006)
Casa Apoio, Belo Horizonte (2012)
Agricultural project (Suai, Timor Leste)
In 2012, the brothers in Suai took over an agricultural project from the Jesuits. It has a strong connection with Caritas Australia. The purpose of this agricultural project is to bring the agricultural activities in that region to a higher level. It is aimed at the poor and therefore fits well in the mission of mercy.