From Darfur to Taizé by way of Calais


In June, two parents with their two children, who in 2014 had to flee from the Mosul region to Iraqi Kurdistan, were welcomed in Taizé. Another family, Iraqi-Egyptian, who have been in Taizé for several years, has helped a lot as they settle. As the community had expressed its willingness to accept more refugees, seven young migrants from the “Calais jungle” arrived in Taizé, all from North Sudan and aged 19-26 years. Some of them have lost family members in the conflict in Darfur, where many of their relatives are still in refugee camps. They have been accommodated in a house in the village; the hospitality of the inhabitants has been very warm.

More recently, other young people from Sudan and Afghanistan have arrived in Taizé.

In addition to the community, the members of the Taizé village council and of the community of the villages around Cluny have been supporting their welcome, as well as other local associations and individuals. In Taizé, Orsi has been closely involved with them from the very start. She writes:

They arrived on a cold, foggy, dark evening to Taizé from Calais. They were tired, frightened, hungry and lost. They didn’t know us, they didn’t trust us when they arrived. They had no idea where they were brought. They are from Darfur, Sudan. They all went through horrible things and they are all asylum seekers. They are between 19 and 25. They are Muslims.
On Saturday morning, November 14, when they heard the news about what happened in Paris they felt horrible. Their first reaction was: “We are so sorry. Please, believe us, this is not Islam.” They repeated this constantly. Then they asked us if we wouldn’t mind if they prayed for the victims and their families. Of course we didn’t mind, so they did. And then we cried together. Sunday at 6:30 pm as usual, there is a half an hour silent prayer for peace in the church. They were happy to come with us.
I think that to all the horrible things happening around us, our answer should be even more welcome, more desire to share, more common reflection, more research of understanding. How to find ways to show that goodness is stronger than evil, joy is stronger than horror, hope is stronger than darkness, that life is stronger than death?

Ten days after the Paris attacks, the inter-religious secretariat of Saône-et-Loire organized a prayer in homage to the victims in the Protestant church in Chalon-sur-Saône. Two brothers from Taizé took part, together with the seven young people from Sudan.

Last updated: 10 December 2015