In the district of Calidonia, in Panama City, there is the Don Bosco minor basilica. In its entrance there is a group of people who take advantage of the Holy Week to earn a little extra money with the arrival of more parishioners. Essences, rosaries, saint figurines and various types of Catholic Church relics are displayed on a rudimentary wooden table. During the Holy Week, there is no rest, the work days last 24 hours.
Hernán Vallejo is 50 years old. All his life he has engaged for almost 40 years to selling together with his mother outside the church. "We carry this in our blood; all our lives we have done it. All my life," said Vallejo, while complaining about the insecurity that surrounds the place at night. That same insecurity is what forces them to stay at work 24 hours a day. Not to sell but to take care of the merchandise. "I wake up because otherwise another person comes and steals us".
At nightfall they should remain alert. They claim that the area is surrounded by beggars. "They steal a lot here. I must take home the little bit I earn, because I'm not going to bring it here. I have to dawn here and beggars, you know, are looking to survive," said Hernán's mother, Raquel Vallejo.
Fear is reflected in their responses. They are not able to say how much more they can perceive during the Holy Week because they fear being the target of a robbery. They work from Sunday to Sunday in the place and although the holiday is more attractive than any other time of the year Raquel believes that "it has not been as good as previous years. We earn a little more but not as before."
Hernán feels that a great reward for almost half a century of work would be to greet Pope Francis during his visit to Panama during the World Youth Day (WYD) in January 2019. "I hope so. I would like the Pope to come here and give us a blessing. Maybe we see him a little bit but I hope he will give us peace and harmony and the health we want". Until now it is unknown what will be the agenda of Pope Francis during his visit to Panama. Details are expected to be released in June
Precisely before the closeness of WYD, Hernán Vallejo, urged the authorities to resolve the issue of beggars that in his opinion could result in a problem for the event that meets young Catholics.