By Isabel Perez-Doherty
How hopeful and soothing Father Melo’s presence has been for my soul! It comes from his clarity of vision, his understanding of the limitations of one individual’s actions, his humility, and his reluctant acceptance that, through his voice, many of his beloved Hondurans are finally listened to.
Father Melo talked about the intricate elements that have caused the Honduran state to fail, how many different powers rule the country, how the environmental legacies of indigenous people continue to be plundered by the few, how many have lost and will continue to lose their lives with impunity, and how—until we all decide to break the silence and start demanding that multinational extractive industries respect human rights—change will take longer and many more lives will be lost in the process.
I also understood how the current state of injustice in Honduras and our lifestyle here in Canada are so painfully intertwined, and how, by not acting with purpose on a daily basis and not grounding our actions in ethical values, we will perpetuate this injustice.
Father Melo has an innate capacity to communicate simply but effectively. This gift is invaluable for his work in community radio. During his Toronto visit, whether in media interviews, a sector meeting, the public event or informal conversations, he touched each person or audience member at an individual level. At every opportunity he reminded us that each of us has a role to play and he provided us with very simple ways to do it.
He called on all of us not to rely on “activists” to speak out, but to join with them according to our capacities, roles and geographic location, and to join in solidarity with him and with those putting their lives at the forefront of the struggle to defend the rights of the many.
His presence brought me once again closer to my Latin America, which I love and miss so dearly. His message encouraged me to continue to find bridges of collaboration, through awareness-raising and the support of organizations that ARE CHANGING THE WORLD for the better.
I said goodbye to Fr Melo at 11 pm on the day he visited. During that day we had very special moments when we shared stories about our families. He saw a picture of my young daughter and smiled tenderly. And the last thing he said to me was “cari├▒os para tu hija” which translates “love for your daughter.” I believe that Love is the greatest force that moves him and all those around him in their effort for others.
When I returned home that night, I kissed my sleeping daughter goodnight; she opened her eyes and smiled, and I could feel that Love sent from Father Melo embracing her, like a blessing.
Isabel Perez-Doherty is Donor Relationships Coordinator at Canadian Jesuits International.