Spirit Sightings

August 31, 2014: Here I Am

From Sandra Rooney

Earlier this month the prayers of a grandmother were answered. And her 37 years of labour were rewarded. Estela Carlotto – founder of the Argentinian human rights organization Abuelas (Grandmothers) de Plaza de Mayo – learned that her own grandson had been found.

During Argentina’s 1976–1983 military dictatorship, some 500 babies were taken from young opponents of the regime and given to military families. Their real parents were murdered. In the case of Guido Carlotto, 36, who was raised as Ignacio Hurban, his mother, Laura Carlotto, Estela’s daughter, was two months pregnant when she was kidnapped, “disappeared,” in 1977. She was sent to La Cacha, one of the regime’s many death camps, where she was kept until her baby was born. Then she was murdered.

The mothers of “disappeared” children, like Estela Carlotto, began searching for their grandchildren, going to the courts, visiting orphanages and daycare centers. And they began demonstrating in the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina’s capital city Buenos Aires. In 1977, the non-governmental organization called Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo was established, its purpose to fight for the return of their grandchildren. The searching and the demonstrating have gone on for 37 years.

In recent years, as they realized that their grandchildren had grown up, the grandmothers have expanded their efforts to try to draw these young adults to Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo. To date, 105 grandchildren have been found, many of whom approached Abuelas directly in search of their origins. This was the case for Guido, who said he had doubted his identity. He approached Abuelas when someone suggested he might be the son of disappeared parents.

The abuelas have used many avenues to try to reach their grandchildren, including conferences and seminars on the topic of identity, literary and photographic contests and exhibits, and the arts. Two years ago, Guido (Ignacio Hurban), who is a pianist, took part in a concert called Music for Identity sponsored by Abuelas.

Through the grandmothers’ determined efforts, The International Convention of the Rights of the Child includes the right to an identity. And the government of Argentina created the National Committee for the Right to Identity, to assist young adults who doubt their identities, by investigating all existing documents and by referring them for blood analysis. The National Bank of Genetic Data has the power to perform such analyses without legal intervention. It is thanks to a DNA test that Estela Carlotto can be certain she has found her grandson.

Explore…Exodus 3:1–15

  • What role does identity play in today’s story of Moses?
  • What do you think persuaded Moses to obey God’s call?
  • How might we receive messages that we perceive are from God?
  • In the past, to what challenge(s) have you been called? How did you respond?
  • What call faces your local or faith community?

Prayer links…

Oh God, who calls each of us by name, strengthen our resolve as we seek truth and justice in a complicated world. May we not rest easy until each person is able to answer the question, “Who am I?” and “Where do I belong?” Amen.

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