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We would like to introduce you to Lamboni Dambé Emmanuel, sociologist at the Maria Josefa Recio mental health centre, run by the Sisters Hospitallers


Did you know that hospitality not only transforms the lives of those who receive it, but also of those who practice it?

We share with you the testimony of Lamboni Dambé Emmanuel, sociologist at the Maria Josefa Recio mental health centre, run by the Sisters Hospitallers, and in charge of psychosocial care activities.

What prompted you to join the Hospitaller Sisters and how has your vocation evolved over the years?

The humanitarian commitment, the dedication of the Sisters to the most vulnerable, including the mentally ill, the disabled and other needy groups, gave me the desire to contribute to this humanitarian mission.

The values of hospitality, being attentive to the needs and emergencies that arise, inspired me and I wanted to live them and embody them in my work.

Working with the Sisters Hospitallers, in an environment focused on care and assistance, has deepened my understanding of social dynamics and the impact of mental illness on individuals and society. Furthermore, this experience with them has strengthened my commitment to social and humanitarian causes.

How would you define hospitality from your point of view and personal experience?

Hospitality from my point of view and my personal experience is defined in the cultural sense as a life of fraternity without limits, accepting a stranger as a member of the family, doing good to someone you don’t know, is a blessing. It consists of welcoming and accepting a person without distinction, without discrimination and without stigmatisation.

Could you share an experience or anecdote that represents the spirit of hospitality in your daily work?

During our visits to the prayer camp, we saw a woman carrying a child under the age of 2 in her arms, chained, half naked, chattering to herself and scolding. I approached the woman, greeted her and held out my hand; she looked stunned and accepted the outstretched hand. She stayed on the ground and began to answer all our questions. In the end, we explained who we were and what our mission was. The lady simply said that she wanted me to take me to her house. “I’m already relieved that people are talking to me.” The rest of the story is that this lady is doing well, she is back living with her husband and has one more child. She makes the local drink “tchapka” in her village and everyone happily comes to drink it.

How have you seen hospitality influence the lives of the people you serve?

We can all see from the anecdote I have just told that by reaching out, extending a warm welcome, showing kindness and concern for the young woman, and listening to her, she has rediscovered a zest for life, a desire to be cared for, and an interest in working on her own development.

Hospitality thus plays a crucial role in patients’ wellbeing and positively influences their care experience and recovery through

Improved patient experience, emotional support and social reintegration. In short, hospitality is essential because it helps to create a therapeutic environment in which patients feel valued and respected, which greatly influences their care and recovery trajectory. It is therefore important to cultivate a culture of hospitality in our mental health facilities to foster a positive experience for all those we welcome and care for.

Can you tell us about a recent project or initiative that embodies the institution’s values of hospitality, and what role do you play in it?

Mental patients in prayer camps: We conduct an awareness campaign twice a month. My role is to conduct a social survey to identify the patients, list their needs, collect their history from the camp leaders, identify the families of the chained patients, collect the patient’s history from the families, provide medical, psychological and social care and reintegrate them into the family and community. Once this stage has been successfully completed, I follow up in the community through home visits.

Wandering patients: At the moment, we go out once a month to offer hospitality and care to wandering patients. And my role is to identify the patients and their wandering areas, assess their direct needs and follow up after they have been cared for, which gives me an idea of what will happen to the wandering patient after our visits and allows me to find the family for reintegration.

What have been the biggest challenges you have faced in your work as a foster carer, and the most significant achievements?

Our achievements in recent years have been very encouraging with regard to the project for the sick in prayer camps.  We have provided a total of 3,511 consultations and care, released and reintegrated more than 700 people into the communities, including 500 families.  However, despite our efforts, there are still many patients in chains, and many of those who have been released have not yet been reintegrated due to lack of financial resources. In addition, the strength of cultural interpretations, taboos, prohibitions and beliefs remains an obstacle to the reintegration of some patients into their communities, which hinders their re-socialisation and can lead to relapses. The other major challenge that we will not forget to mention is working to reduce relapses and stigmatisation of the mentally ill.

What message would you like to convey to those listening to this interview about the importance of hospitality in today’s world?

To all of you who are reading right now: I would like this story to be a living testimony to you of what hospitality can do to change the lives of people in general and, in particular, of people suffering from mental illness, who are excluded in today’s world. Our hope is that this testimony will awaken in us a spirit of listening and acceptance of others, and that it will inspire us with the desire for everyone to respect human dignity.


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