At the Heart of the Caribbean

From Venezuela to Cuba and Puerto Rico, countries facing the Caribbean Sea are tested by a strong social crisis, as well as the catastrophic effects of Hurricaine Maria. In the midst of this difficult situation there are many examples of courage and solidarity. News from the Focolare community.

Nuvoletta_VenezuelaOngoing emergencies, but also much solidarity and desire to get things going again. It is a difficult socio-political scene in Venezuela: soaring inflation, the persistent increase in the number of people living in extreme poverty, the lack of basic human necessities, and violent clashes. In Cuba and Puerto Rico, recontstruction has been hard because of the exodus of thousands of people, and the lack of electricity and drinking water. Yet, in the midst of it all, the vitality of the Caribbean people and the will to begin again has never faded.

María Augusta and José Juan, from the Focolare community in the Carribean region report: “The general situation in Venezuela is quite painful, because of the lack of food and medicines, and also because of the growing uncertainty and helplessness and the continuing exodus of the people who are leaving the country. The list of our friends who have already left and of others who are attempting to leave, is long. In spite of this we have to “stay” at the foot of the cross, in the midst of much suffering, in the hope of a resurrection. But we can already see the Resurrection happening in many people, in their depth and in the Christian solidarity that animates them.”

MeetingOfelia from the Venezuelan community recounts: “It’s not easy to find answers to the problems we’re facing, like the lack of food, clothing and medicines. But we have Jesus’s words alive in our hearts: ‘Give and there will be gifts for you’, which we can live one day at a time. If someone doesn’t have food to eat, we can share a package of rice or medicine and all the things that we receive in thousands of ways. Each of us thinks of the other, life circulates and the community grows. In the midst of the violence and uncertainty, the presence of Jesus among us is like a flame that attracts and gives hope.”

María Augusta e José Juan are always the ones to report on Cuba: “Last weekend a Mariapolis was held in Santiago with around 200 people, a sign of hope that continues to rise in the midst of the many difficulties that everyone has to face.”

And from the community in Puerto Rico: “As you know, they have been living through truly tragic months due to the devastating effects of the hurricaine which destroyed the island. Very touching testimonies of Gospel love continue to arrive.”

Here are a few: “Fifty six days without water, and electricity for only 30 minutes a day. It’s not easy to work in the office with the intense heat, but we do it! The flashlight provides a bit of light, the water bottles can be left in the afternoon sun, so that one has a bit of warm water to bathe with. For the heat, a hand fan or spray bottle of water and alcohol can provide some refreshment…”

“Some young people from the Movement and the Inmaculado Corazón de María Parish in Patillas, along with some students from Saint Ignatius College have distributed rations to the needy – 237 sacks of food in all.”
“My experience at Palma Sola was quite hard because of the destruction and lack of everything. Offering my service, with my entire family, was  the most beautiful thing I’ve ever done in my life.” “We always have something to give, evaluating what we really need and offering the rest to the people who are more in need.”
“We went to the Recio community in the Guardarraya di Patillas barrio. It was hard to get there because of the condition of the roads after the hurricaine. Beginning from the outskirts where there was total devastation, we found elderly people with tired and discouraged expressions, people with asthma problems, ulcers on their legs, diabetics (and the problem of finding a way to conserve the insulin without electricity), people suffering from high blood pressure… One boy had a skin allergy. We made an attempt to use the old community aquaduct to make up for the lack of water.”
“In Gurabo we were able to know our neighbours better by helping them in their need.”
“Carrying on and getting on our feet again doesn’t only depend on the government, nor the military, nor help from abroad. It also depends on us, on me, on you. Together, we’ll get it done!”



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