Pediatrician, active in many associations, committed in her area, volunteer in the developing Countries… Elena Sachel always worked for the least, for the victims of drugs, for the women trapped in the web of prostitution, for the immigrants with no rights, for homeless and abandoned children; in each one she knew how to recognize with gentleness and intelligence their dignity and their need for love. The secret of her courageous actions? Putting the Gospel into practice.
She joined the Focolare while she was still young and her thirst for justice and equality pushed her to put into practice that call of Chiara Lubich “to die for one’s own people”.
Since the ‘80s che dedicated herself with much energy to the drug addicts. She placed her own house at the disposition of those in need and with the other staff they rent a small apartment in the mountains for the rehabilitation process. Then in Perù. To leave Italy so as to take care of the poorest of the poor had always been her dream, but after a few months she had to return home because of her health. For Elena it was a sign: God wants her to be in Magenta (Milan).
Her retun home opened up new roads. Her committment in the Movement never remained closed up within her comfort zone, but urged her to look for always new companions on the journey who would help to find solutions to problems. This is because Elena is “universal”. Maybe it is because of the Jewish origins of her parents, that have marked her existence eversince she was a child, during the racist persecutions.
“I was a stranger and you welcomed me”: opening herself up to the challenges of her territory, Elena gathered the words of the Gospel and she brought them to life. And so, for twenty years she worked in an association that is responsible for the health, legal and bureaucratic problems of immigrants. With another association she brought first aid to prostitutes, courageously going to them at night in very dangerous neighborhoods. Often she was involved in the battle for adequate social policies. During the clearing out of a gypsy campsite, she wrote to the mayors of the zones suggesting an alternative solution to the problem.
In 1994, upon her insistence, the town built a Home for people in difficulty. By then, Elena was already elderly, she too became a guest of the center, gathering the fruits of her work: “It is reciprocal love. Now I am disabled, my legs and my arms no longer function well, I am no longer independent, but the people here go out of their weay to help me in everything. Before, I was for the Center, now the Center is for me”.
Her humility and audacity do not leave anyone indifferent and often hr dedication was given public recognition. The last tribute given to her – Meritorious of Civil Virtues (Benemerita delle Virtù Civili) – touched her in a special way. Up to the end, she invited everyone to a more courageous committment for the “existential peripheries”.
She died peacefully on February 14, 2014. This is how the magazine Città Nuova described her: “Elena was gentle and strong, disarming in her weakness and fragility. She left us at 86 years old. In a day of mourning for her city, the church of Magenta was crowded for the final greeting of her very many friends. Those who… it doesn’t matter what one’s belief is, it doesn’t matter where one come’s from, it doesn’t matter whether one is homeless, it doesn’t matter how many times one has made a mistake. The world that Elena dreamed of was a world where there is a place for everyone”.