The warmth of the embrace of our loved ones, the intimacy of the home, the sense of belonging to a community that surrounds us, are the essential gifts of this Christmas period.

Unfortunately, however, not everyone has the opportunity to have a family or loved ones by their side, both at Christmas and in everyday life.

The meaning of Christmas is hospitality, warmth, inclusion and sharing.

That is why, in this period, we should ask ourselves what we can do at Christmas for those who need it most.

How do lonely people spend Christmas? Who lives on the margins of society? Who has no fixed place to call home? Who is traveling in the cold across Europe’s snowy borders?

Often a simple gesture of sharing and inclusion can make the difference.

These simple ideas are at the heart of the homestay project launched by MOAS in Malta to support third country nationals. Through this initiative, we connect migrants with Maltese families willing to host and support them. This is a project based on the principle of do ut des. The goal is to facilitate long-term integration and inclusion so that the development and independence of migrants can be achieved in a profitable exchange for the entire community.

My thoughts go out to all those migrant people who, due to the absence of safe and legal migration routes, are forced to face Christmas amidst hardships, traveling for kilometers in African deserts, in Libyan detention centers, travelling across open seas, on the cold borders of Europe and at every border of the world that separates and divides.

News of the pregnant woman who lost her life on the border between Belarus and Poland a few days ago is the latest affront to this Christmas, a sad episode that confronts us with the paradox of a Christian Europe.  We are a community that participates in the Holy Christmas mass which celebrates the beauty of life and, at the same time, we allow a mother and a child to die in the cold and frost.

The words of Pope Francis, announced in Lesbos a few days later, strongly expresses this sentiment: “How many pregnant mothers, journeying in haste, have found death, even while carrying life in their womb! May the Mother of God help us to have a maternal gaze that regards all human beings as children of God, sisters and brothers to be welcomed, protected, supported and integrated”.

For this holiday season, I advocate for the adoption of Safe and Legal pathways which already exist on paper but are not yet implemented and a more humane welcome and integration policy. This way, no one will have to jeopardize their own existence because they are forced to escape from hunger, violence and discrimination in search of a better future.

Merry Christmas to all!