The Philippines: Feeling at Home

 
Saving a young boy from the drugs, opening one’s house to a mother and baby in need, accompanying the sick: the Focolare community in Dumaguete is doing its best to live like a family.

20141013-01Chiara Lubich left us the family spirit as a heritage, and being open to humanity. This is the magna charta of our local community at Dumaguete, a central region of the Visayas in the Philippines. There have been so many occasions to experience it.

We got to know about the situation of a mother and her baby who needed a house to live in for an undetermined period of time. We opened our home to them, without thinking of the consequences. To give them the best welcome we prepared everything, and tried to know more about the culture of their country of origin. A month after their arrival we realised that this would be a big challenge, and we would have to change many of our habits. We both still remembered the discomfort of the previous experience.

The mother, nervous and full of hatred, had doubts about God’s love. The child was more and more restless, violent and capricious. When the situation become impossible to bear, we turned to Jesus on the cross, who seemed to say: “ If you do not love me, who will?” This gave us the courage to move on.

We understood that we had to take up a dialogue with them in order to love them more concretely, for example, cooking their favourite dishes, or carrying out the most suitable activities. We felt that it was important for the child to go to school and the mother to find some little job. So we did all we could; each suggested some job possibilities, and through a communion of goods we managed to pay for some necessities like the child’s school uniform. Some even took turns to take care of the child while the mother was at work. This was a source of great joy. The two were invited to birthdays and parties of the members of the community, and they found a circle of friends, and soon said that they felt “at home.”  With time, through everyone’s love, they began to acknowledge God’s love. The mother had the chance to start a new life, and rent a flat – which we furbished together – and find their independence.

Another episode regarded another couple, when the husband was diagnosed with cancer at an advanced stage. Only the wife had a stable income, but they immediately became poor when the treatment began. The community tried to love them concretely: not only with funds, but also in terms of time and trying to gain knowledge on how to take care of a sick person like him. When he become bedridden, the sisters of the Congregation of the Poor of St Francis offered to bring him Holy Communion daily. We lived the entire vicissitude with the couple up to the end. During the funeral, the community took care of the ceremonies, the preparations in Church and the funeral. There was a strong family atmosphere.

Our daughter’s friend came to our place while some adults and young people were preparing an activity. It was something new for her, to see how an adult showed great respect and belief in the ideas of the youth, something uncommon in the environment she came from. She told us that before she met the gen (young people of the Movement), her life was ‘a disaster’. She didn’t take school seriously, and made use of drugs. At a certain point my daughter, who is her best friend, had moved to another city to study, but the other gen continued to stay close to her. Now we have taken her in, and slowly she has started to change, even up to the point of improving her performance at school and has stopped consuming drugs.”

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