On the 20th of February, the United Nations marks the 12th World Day of Social Justice. This occasion carries a special meaning to Eurodiaconia and its members because it neatly encompasses all our internal values and external actions. It is a good day for reflection and taking stock of the global developments in the fight for social justice.

History books, in Europe and elsewhere, often describe the Old Continent as a place of affluence and freedom. A place which taught the rest of the world that a fair and just world of equal opportunities, universal education and healthcare need not be just a dream. A land of peace and prosperity providing the necessary conditions for everyone to reach their full potential and realise their true mission. A civilization which gave the 19th and 20th centuries their most inspiring intellectual achievements and most defining traits – democracy, freedom and appreciation for human dignity.

But walking on the streets of Brussels, I wonder if these history books still paint an accurate picture. As a seat of the institutions of the European Union, the city is a poster child of EU-led progress. How do you then fit into the above-mentioned narrative the beggars standing in front of every supermarket, the homeless people sleeping in construction sites, the thousands of elderly citizens lining up for free meals every Tuesday?

Needless to say, these problems are not limited to Brussels. Extreme poverty, social exclusion, and destitution rear their ugly heads in every Member State and every European capital. And they speak about a Europe brimming with inequality, injustice, and indifference. We pride ourselves on being European for everything that the European civilization has given to the world, but are we still what we once were? And if not, how do we fix this?

A world built on the ideals and values that Europe historically stands for is not a given. It is a vision we have to work hard towards every day. Justice starts in the minds of people and it is in the minds of people that the faith in its achievability must be built. Preferably, by showing of example. In this context, diaconal institutions have everything to be proud of as their work embodies these ideals to the fullest. Eurodiaconia’s members provide invaluable services and operate countless facilities across Europe in support of the most vulnerable social groups and in so doing, we bring to life that vision of Europe as a place of hope and love, humanity and care for the neighbours that the world needs to know is possible.

On this special Day, I wish our members would take a few moments not only to grasp the depth and vastness of our mission but above all, to fully recognise the significance of our accomplishments.

Have a nice weekend,