« Humanitarian action for the most vulnerable »: 2nd Evening of Bioethics conference

This past Monday, January 18, 2016, the 2nd evening of Alliance VITA’s bioethics conferences assembled more than 5,500 participants by videoconference by interconnecting more than 112 cities in France and 11 cities outside of France.

This year, the Alliance VITA team has taken care to focus on being very interactive with the participants, offering them time for questions, for personal reflections and actions plans.

« Interested, happy, enthusiastic, satisfied, pleased, touched, and delighted” are the words expressed by the majority of the approximately 2,000 individuals who were invited to respond by email to the question: how did you feel after the first evening?”

After taking time for “inner reflection” during the first session on the theme of personal impetus which incites one to get involved, the second session of this unprecedented training cycle was “Humanitarian action for the most vulnerable”. The objective was to realize that our society is wounded, especially regarding issues concerned with life, and inviting us to discern those whose suffering calls us to take action.

Dr. Xavier Mirabel, Alliance VITA’s medical advisor, introduced the evening by inviting us to realize that “care-taking” is a universal experience and that we are all “care givers”. “Being a care giver” is a call, launched to each of us; it can be learnt but it must be aligned with ethical boundaries, all the while avoiding pitfalls.

Valérie Boulanger, chief of the SOS Baby service, shared her experience of the help line, and her expertise related to her work in the field, in contact with associations, social workers, doctors, and psychologists to help the participants see and understand the social suffering related to maternity. She invited us to realize that there are injunctions and pressure weighing on these women, men, couples and youth in the area of sexuality or whenever an unexpected pregnancy occurs.

For his part, Henri de Soos, General Secretary of the association, and head of public relations, shared his expertise with us on the theme of the end of life, and thanks to his experience as leader of the service SOS End of Life, he clarified all the social suffering related to the end of life: suffering of sick or elderly individuals, their loved ones, their care-takers and more generally the suffering of the social entity as a whole.

Afterwards, Etienne Villemain was the guest speaker as a « Great Founder » of a social welfare program, as in every one of the evenings. In 2006, with a friend, Etienne created the “Lazarus association” – offering interdependent collocation with the homeless. His live interview was preceded by a video showing one of the women living in a shared apartment. Etienne mentioned the relational richness of sharing with the homeless and those who choose to cohabitate with them, being a witness to the difficulties and joys of everyday life, and emphasizing the seriousness of family separations which are often a source of social upheavals which lead all too many individuals to becoming completely defenseless.

To end the presentations, Caroline Roux, Alliance VITA’s assistant chief delegate, presented the humanitarian work that Alliance VITA has performed for the past 20 years for the most vulnerable, specifically thanks to the help line services and helpful tools such as the guide “I am pregnant”.

The round table between the 5 speakers of the evening allowed the participants to have complementary answers to questions from the interconnected cities, notably: How to help isolated individuals rediscover the joy of living? Or: how to protect the freedom of conscience? […]

The evening ended by a proposition for participants to reflect on an experience which had previously led them to take care of a vulnerable person, to detect their capacities and the personal desires which incite them to act in favor of the culture of life.

The event had a strong impact on the net as well, the hashtag #UDVie which is assigned to the event scored in the top 10 on Twitter France.

>> Note: Join us Monday January 25, for the 3rd evening dedicated to “Political action for rights and justice”.

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