Like many families they were having economic problems. Back wages and finally layoffs at work. With three young children the future seemed threatening. What were they to do? Measuring their own needs against those of others could seem foolish, but in this case it turned out to be successful. The facts recounted by a mother prove it.
“The children’s baptisms. A simple feast. No wasting money. No candy favours or restaurant. We welcomed relatives and friends back to the house. We’ve been given much and we wanted to share it with those who are less fortunate, giving away a part of the money we received in gifts to a project for newborns in Africa.” But the recent baptism coincided with her husband being laid off at work. They could really have used that 250 € that was given. But they decided to send it to the project anyway.
“Later we learned that the people caring for those newborns had been praying and asking God for precisely that amount of money at a time when there was no money for milk, and that it would cover the cost for up to three months. Not only were we not lacking anything, but I was in need of a coat and a suit and was given a coat and quite an elegant suit, jacket and two dressees, as well as three times as much money as we had given away.”
“There is a constant exchange of clothing going on among several families, especially children’s clothing, a sort of barter operation. When these big packages arrive, we have a little rite: We open the packages together and then we organize the “fashion show”. Nice clothes, very new shoes; my children never had such a filled closet. One day my oldest told her friend about this “fashion show”, and the friend a bit disgusted replied to her: “But how can you be so happy about putting on clothes that other people have already worn? Are you poor?”
Naturally my daughter arrived home disillusioned and sad. We sat down and talked, and we agreed that when she needed something in particular we would buy it, but that it is also beautiful to give and then to recieve what you have, not because we don’t have the money to buy it but because it is good to spend on the poor children, like the ones we adopted in Africa. Not only was my daughter more serene, but she went to bring her piggy-bank and gave me all the money she had inside so that I could send it to her little brother in Pakistan. Then she asked me: “Mamma, are we poor?” I explained to her that actually, during that period we were having some economic difficulties because her father was out of work and because of some back payments I was owed. It turned into an opportunity for explaining to her that we may have been lacking in some things, but still had a house, a car, good food, and especially our love for each other, our many friends – and we were happy. And then she exclaimed: “Then we’re rich, Mamma!”
(F. & M. – Italy)