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October 5 2015 | NIGERIA

On the side of the poor and of peripheries in Nigeria

The response of Sant'Egidio to the violence that runs through the country is to create opportunities for solidarity with the weakest and to build a culture of living together and peace

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On the eve of the Jubilee of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, on the occasion of the Independence Day of Nigeria and of St. Francis, friend of the poor and peace, the Nigerian Communities of Sant'Egidio gave birth to a series of initiatives with the poor in different cities across the country.

Very touching was the party with young prisoners in the city of Jos (Plateau State): marked by a life lived in violent contexts, these guys were later abandoned by their own families. The party, as the frequent visits by the Community, are the opportunity to rebuild a network of friendship and solidarity around these young people, in view of their rehabilitation into society. Also important was the presence of Muslim friends that lived this festive time with Sant'Egidio, witnessing the dream of wanting to build a pacified society between Christians and Muslims.

Near Minna (Niger State), Sant'Egidio took the national holiday into the leprosarium of Chanchaga village. It was a special day for many elderly patients, who shared with the younger ones the memories of their childhood during the colonial era. The living conditions in the leprosarium are extremely precarious: the sick live in small mud huts without light or water and they lack sanitary facilities that can provide adequate care.

The celebrations also involved the poor of Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, where the Community of Sant'Egidio distributed lunch to the homeless, who on this occasion also received gifts. A gesture of friendship that wants to be also a bridge of dialogue with the many Muslims living in the streets of Abuja, increasingly convinced that living together in peace between Christians and Muslims is possible.

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