‘Havana, 5 November 2012. I came back yesterday from Santiago, Palma Soriano and Banes. It was a very painful experience but, at the same time, good for me. We left on a bus bulging with food and clothing: a drop in the ocean in comparison with people’s needs. We arrived at the very moment when food had run out for many families. Youth for a United World and Teens for Unity were waiting for us to help unloading and distributing what we had brought. It was a shock to see the city’s devastation: rubble everywhere, most of the streets blocked, 80% of the trees uprooted, many houses in ruins and thousands of people injured and homeless. It was like a war zone. People’s dignity, despite their pain, as they thanked God for being alive, was impressive. And, above all, it was striking to see the willingness to help others rebuild, for example, putting back a roof on a house.
‘David, who is 15 years old, told me, “A huge tree fell on my house, but the roof is made of cement and so it was all right. But my uncle’s house was destroyed. My aunt and he managed to save their 5 month old child by smashing a neighbour’s window. They came to stay with us and later on other children from the area arrived. There was no electricity and, by candlelight, my sister and I began getting an evening meal ready for the little ones and looking for blankets so they would not get cold. When we heard that the church had fallen down, I rushed out to help the parish priest. He was not injured, the building was in ruins. Only one wall was left standing. On it were the crucifix and Jesus Eucharist in the tabernacle. With other Gen and our friends from the parish we cleared away the mess, cleaned the priest’s house and salvaged a few pews and other things. Then we organized shifts to keep a watch over the parish buildings. Even the nun’s convent had been damaged. And so, every day after my morning shift, I went to their place to help them, without going home to sleep.”
‘Then we left Santiago to go to Palma Soriano (42km from Santiago). The houses were not badly damaged, but people had nothing to eat. We arrived just in time to bring them something.
‘After that I went to Banes (300km from Santiago). There I discovered how generous those amazing people are. With one of the Gen 3 I went to several shops to get food and clothing of the best quality at the lowest price, so as to be able to help the most people possible. At one point I realized I didn’t have the money I needed because I’d already spend half of it in Santiago. I was not going to be able to get what was necessary: rice, sugar and so on. My Gen 3 friend gave me 10 dollars; I was surprised and moved because it was all he had apart from his fare home. When I came to another town, another Gen 3 gave me 25 dollars that he had been given to buy food and clothing. Like that I could get some 50kg bags of rice, sugar, wheat and cornflour. When I got to Banes, the local priest embraced me and wept because what I was bringing in the name of the Movement, fruit of sharing among many people, came just at the moment that they were at the end of all the aid the bishop had sent.
‘What has emerged in this natural disaster is the dignity, strength, faith, goodness and heroismof these young people of all ages (and the adults too) who went beyond their own needs and problems to think of the needs of others and throw themselves without stinting into loving and serving.’
To find our more or give to the project:
AMU – http://www.amu-it.eu
Associazione Azione per un Mondo Unito
c/o Banca Popolare Etica, Rome Branch.
Payments made to: Progetto: La mia casa è la tua casa