JCAM Novice Directors (Africa and Madagascar) held a meeting to enhance safeguarding in their respective novitiates. Honoré Onana Olah spoke to one of the participants Fr. António Virgílio de Oliveira e Costa, S.J., the novice director at Xavier House in Lusaka, Zambia. His novitiate is not only for the Zambia-Malawi province but also for the Zimbabwe-Mozambique province and the Region of South Africa. Fr. António Virgílio de Oliveira e Costa, S.J., is telling us more about the meeting he attended in Nairobi.

From April 1 to April 4 there was a workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, for all JCAM (Jesuits Conference of Africa and Madagascar) novice masters on Safeguarding of Children. It is very important for us all to realize the necessity of creating a safe environment for children in our churches, schools, houses and everywhere else. This workshop gave us the tools to train our novices and collaborators in this important task of our mission to form Jesuits capable to accompany the youth in their journey to God. It gave us the necessary tools for, for example, detecting early signs and symptoms of abuse, knowing how to accompany the victims of abuse, being aware of the existing policies to deal with cases of abuse and most importantly, for being proactive and able to help prevent those cases from happening ever again.

Which impact such kind of meeting can have in the Society of Jesus (eventually in the rest of Africa) especially for the formation of ours

Such workshops generate in us the awareness of the importance of forming others in this task. This requires on our part a true conversion of attitude. Our paradigm needs to shift from the protection of the Institution to the protection of children and the healing of the victims. Certainly these workshops have a multiplying effect, meaning that, after trained we are sent to train others and we hope that eventually we can ensure a generation free from abuse. JCAM feels this as a true Call but this can only be possible if we are all aware of our responsibility in this mission and engaged in carrying it on.

Concluding remarks…

As a concluding remark I would say that to commit oneself to the development of a culture to protect minors and vulnerable adults is an essential commitment for those who are engaged “to walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice.” (See the Society Universal Apostolic Preferences).

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