Centre de la Réconciliation - Lille
Christian de la Roque is the Pastor of the Baptist Church ‘La Reconciliation’ (pictured below right) in Lille, northern France.
He became aware of the increasing number of mineurs isolés étrangers. ie lone foreign minors (MIEs) who were on the streets of Lille. These, in the main, had come from French speaking countries but their reasons for leaving their homelands are many and various, including oppression, war, maltreatment, slavery etc. Most wanted to stay in France, but faced danger on the streets, and needed guidance as to how to apply to stay in the country.
Pastor Christian therefore decided to offer his church for initial accommodation for these MIEs. The majority of MIEs are now hosted by families on a rota basis. Until they receive official papers, the youngsters cannot attend mainstream state schools and many are illiterate, so basic schooling is provided at the ‘Ecole sans Frontièrs’ by volunteer teachers in some church rooms, and others are given places at local Catholic schools. Two dedicated workers are employed for the day-to-day running of the project, one to oversee the schooling and the other to look after the social welfare of the MIEs and their foster families.
Many church buildings and volunteers are now involved in this project. Representatives of the WCT have visited and met both volunteers and refugees and attended a presentation to host families by a Christian child psychologist who gave an insightful and in-depth talk on the effects of trauma on young migrant survivors. Given time, care and prayer, these young people begin to make a new life for themselves in their adopted country.