Many individuals and organizations have a philosophy, a set of believes and thoughts that gives direction to their behaviour and activities. St. Martin derives its inspiration from the bible and from the example Jesus set during his life. This philosophy of work believes and thoughts is also called the ‘spirit of St. Martin’. It is an integral part of the work of the organization. In fact, it can be considered a central and important aspect which cannot be ignored or removed. It is from this spirit that people get the motivation and drive to work. The work in St. Martin asks a lot from staff and volunteers in terms of patience and perseverance. It is the ‘spirit of St. Martin’ that guides us and gives the energy to continue. Therefore, we consider the Tuesday morning sharing and our spiritual retreats to be one of the most important moments in our work.
St. Martin has an ecumenical character. People of different church background feel inspired by the same spirit, by the example that Jesus gave during his life. They have found out that despite their denominational differences, they share the same dream and can work harmoniously together in trying to build a society in which vulnerable people are given a central position and in which the strong and the weak can meet and learn from each other. The ecumenical character of St. Martin has become an enriching experience for many of us.
One day a volunteer reported in our office the case of Jane, a disabled girl of 17 years, who had been locked up in a store for many years. Upon going to the place, the staff found the girl sitting in her own waste and almost white skin because she had not seen the sun for a long time. The staff broke into the store and the girl came out, very fearful as if she is expected to be beaten up any time. All those years she had been abused, even sexually and had given birth in that store. It became a difficult case to handle: the girl was hyperactive, could not talk and was difficult to control outside the store. The staff and volunteer had to look for a place of rescue, where the girl could be accommodated temporarily because they did not want to leave the girl behind with those responsible for the abuse. The girl herself also clung to the staff, clearly expecting help from them. But, to find a place was difficult: it was Holy Thursday and almost Easter, not particularly a convenient time. The volunteer suggested that the staff ask a family in the neighbourhood. After explaining the case to this family, the reaction was amazing. The father said: “We have no problem; we have food, soap and many daughters who can look after this girl. If you are satisfied with this, she can join our family.” The mother said this:” This girl is welcome. Since we are approaching Easter, we believe she is the Risen Lord, who has come to visit us.” This was an impressive moment for those staff and volunteers present. The ability of this ordinary rural mother to recognize the Risen Lord in a disabled girl was an example of such deep faith that humbled the people present.