"Dial a Pilgrim" Telephone Service Launched Ahead of World Youth Day

Local Families in Brazil Preparing to Open Homes to Pilgrims

Rome, (Zenit.org) H. Sergio Mora | 1050 hits

Pilgrims who will take part in the 2013 Rio World Youth Day have a new aid to dispel any doubts or concerns: “Dial Pilgrim.”

Since yesterday, the Rio de Janeiro telephone number 2122 8050 has been available daily from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm local time, with help given for the time being in Portuguese, Spanish and English.

ZENIT called the number following the recorded instructions (press number 2), and chose the Spanish service. The first time it took 1 and a half  minutes to be attended. The second test call was attended in 20 seconds: “Headquarters of pilgrim support, my name is Samuel,. Good day …”

The operator said that from July 20-29 the number will change. It will be a free number that can be called from any public telephone, including the ‘orelhoes’ with their characteristic orange covers and the time will be extended to 24 hours a day.

In addition, “Dial Pilgrim” has another communication channel available: e-mail contact@rio2013.com , which has been available since the beginning of 2012. Since then they have received more than 73,000 e-mails. It answers pilgrim’s questions in six main languages of the 2013 Rio WYD: Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, German and Polish, said Sidney Timbo, the director.

A team of 25 volunteers answer emails in a maximum span of time of 72 hours. Timbo said that approximately 70% of the questions sent on email are answered on the Official Web page of the 2013 Rio WYD.

“That is why every time we answer a question we emphasize that the Web is the main communication channel between the Day and the pilgrim. Any other information on other sites is not official, specified Timbo.

Hospitality in Family Homes

According to Sister Gracia Maria, executive director of hospitality for the 2013 Rio WYD, a family need only offer a space where a pilgrim can open a camp bed or sleeping bag, and have a bathroom for his personal hygiene. “It’s already part of the culture to bring a camp bed, an inflatable mattress or a sleeping bag. What a pilgrim needs is a safe and closed place where he can spend the night peacefully, rest and attend to his personal hygiene,” he explained.

Families are not asked to feed pilgrims, “because that is part of the registration kit. When a pilgrim registers, all his food is included, breakfast, lunch and dinner,” said Sister Gracia Maria.

A family that is receiving pilgrims “must reserve the hospitality premises between the 21st and 31st of July, to have a margin of arrival and departure from the city,” she added.

Pilgrims who are going to be accommodated “will arrive at hospitality premises and be directed by individuals in charge from the parishes. Only if they are duly accredited will they go to the homes of families. Moreover, the family knows who they will receive. Sister Gracia Maria said that “the criteria given by the family receiving them is” always “respected.”

“The organizers of the Day have all the personal details of pilgrims staying in the homes of families so that the latter can be at peace,” she said.

The event’s organizers estimate that a space of three square meters is needed per pilgrim.

“Not only those of Rio but all the Brazilian people are hospitable. And I think those of Rio de Janeiro will do a good job,” she concluded.

What if a pilgrim doesn’t speak Portuguese?  Then “the language that prevails is that of charity. We have already perceived this in these events. Those who receive and those who are received will do their utmost to communicate with one another.”

In regard to the security strategy adopted by the government of the state of Rio de Janeiro for the WYD, apparently it will be left as a legacy for residents and visitors. Among these is the Integrated Center of Command and Control, which will be handed over in the first semester of this year.