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Sodalitium Christianae Vitae - English / News  / Listening and solidarity: The essence of ‘Noche de Caridad’ in Argentina

Listening and solidarity: The essence of ‘Noche de Caridad’ in Argentina

“Gonzalo is a passionate reader of detective novels, that is why in every meeting we have he tells us different stories and tales of Sherlock Holmes. What for us is a simple moment of listening, for him is the best moment of the week” says Bautista Martino, in charge of “Charity Night”, a project that you will learn about in this note.

Jóvenes del proyecto "Noche de Caridad" del MVC Argentina.

At the beginning of 2023, Bautista met Gonzalo (28), a homeless person in Buenos Aires who makes crafts with materials he finds in the trash. “He was always in the same place where he used to have his belongings and a book in his hand.”

“At first he was a very shy man, so he didn’t speak and he accepted our food timidly. As the weeks went by, Gonzalo became more and more encouraged to chat.”

“Today, every time we see him we talk for almost an hour about how his week was and what the new book he is reading is about.”

With this experience, Bautista reflects that several of the people who live in a situation like Gonzalo suffer a lot from being ignored.

Charity Night: Listen and talk to those who need it

“Charity Night” is a service of the Christian Life Movement (MVC) in Argentina that takes place in the center of the city of Buenos Aires and consists of bringing food and drink to those people who need it most, listening to them, talking and passing time with them.

To begin this work, the volunteers recognize that they need to first listen and be heard by God, therefore, they participate in the Holy Mass in the Basilica of the Blessed Sacrament, where after having received Christ in the Eucharist, they pray for the work they are going to do. perform that night.

Voluntarios de "Noche de Caridad" Argentina, conversando con una beneficiaria.

After Mass, volunteers prepare the food they will share, and the companion is adjusted according to weather conditions: comforting soups in winter and refreshing juices in summer.

Once the food is ready, they are divided into groups according to the number of participants and they are assigned a street to provide assistance to those they meet along the way. Each day generally lasts two hours. After exhausting the food to distribute, they return to the basilica to share their experiences and offer prayers for those they met, listened to, and helped.

Nights that change lives

Osvaldo Asmada, another of the beneficiaries of this project, shares that he likes receiving this “visit” from the volunteers because talking with them “changes what he experiences on the street, changes the suffering, we laugh, we chat.”

Una voluntaria de "Noche de Caridad" ofrece alimento a un beneficiario en la calle. (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

The same thing happens for the volunteers, this is what Bautista tells us: “Being part of this service changed my life, I began many years ago to participate in this apostolate and I can notice a great change from that day to now. Charity Night opened my eyes to a reality that I had been ignoring all my life, it helped me realize that my life does not revolve only around my family and friends, but is about loving my neighbor no matter who they are.

“To this day, even on other days of the week, I take the time to reach out to the homeless, offering help and a little company. This change is not only personal, but is reflected in all participants in the service.”

“There is greater joy in giving than in receiving” (Acts 20:35)

Knowing this experience that volunteers who help street people in Buenos Aires live, Pope Francis writes in No. 171 of the Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit: “Today, thank God, youth groups in parishes, schools, movements or university groups usually go out to accompany the elderly and sick, or visit poor neighborhoods, or go out together to help the indigent on the so-called nights of charity.”

Dos voluntarios de "Noche de Caridad" conversando con un beneficiario en una calle de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“They often recognize that in these tasks they receive more than what they give, because a lot is learned and matured when one dares to come into contact with the suffering of others. Furthermore, in the poor there is a hidden wisdom, and they, with simple words, can help us discover values that we do not see,” says the Pope.

How to collaborate or participate?

“Today the biggest challenge is the social and economic situation that Argentina is suffering. This apostolate is carried out thanks to contributions from volunteers. The increase in the price of inputs to prepare food escalates very quickly, in such a way that the cost rises week by week,” says Bautista.

In this sense, any contribution to the mission of “Charity Night” will be welcomed.

To participate or support this project, Bautista suggests sending a message through the MVC Argentina Instagram page (@mvcarg). There, the “Charity Night” community will answer questions and will be attentive to receiving the necessary support to continue its work.