A learning community
I’m the headteacher of a school in an impoverished and isolated town with high rates of both unemployment and school absenteeism. Over the years, I have tried to create strong and deep relationships with my pupils, their families, my colleagues and all school empoyees. And I’ve had the joy of seeing a real “learning community” spring up, joined together to promote the dignity of each person, in a spirit of openness towards others. In our attempts to help our pupils not to abandon school, we have welcomed the “adoption at a distance” of pupils with their families, but we’ve also made our own contribution: setting up a traditional handcrafts workshop. This project actually attracted presidential acknowledgement. Recently ill health has forced me to limit my activities, but as long as I have breath in my body I will fight for education to help people discover their own value and the love of God.
(I. – Argentina)
Take on another’s pain
Our family was shaken to the core by the suicide of my brother. Life was never the same again for us. I myself began to doubt my faith. My days became emptier and lost their meaning, until one day I realised that my attitude was not helping my parents at all. I gathered up all my strength in order to take on their terrible pain, so that by sharing it with them, their tragic burden might be lightened. Gradually, in this way, I found that my own wounds began to heal. It was not easy, but it’s helping me too, now that I have myself become a mother.
(O.M. – Germany)
Making space for others
I married Marcello when I was 24 years old. We had so much in common, including our faith and we dreamed of the beautiful family we would have together. 15 years later, Marcello was taken from me in an accident. For six years I remained trapped within the unanswerable “why me”? Until the day I accepted an invitation to a meeting, where they spoke of God Love. This disturbed me but gradually the words sank in and began to change something within me. When I heard how, out of love for us, Jesus on the cross experienced abandonment from the Father, crying out “My God, why have you forsaken me?”, my own forsaken cry began to make sense. My situation did not change, I was still a widow, but within me I was able to begin to love once more. Looking around, I noticed how many people were experiencing a void as great as my own. The more I was able to make space for them, the more God filled me with His peace.
(A. – Italy)
Thinking of those who come after me
I’m a teacher. At the end of each lesson, I try to leave the classroom in good order for those who will use the room after me. I leave the desk tidy, the teaching board clean, the windows open to let in the fresh air. Each room has two baskets for waste: one for paper and one for all other discarded items. Often, when I find them mixed up, I try to sort the rubbish so it is all in the correct basket. This means I often lose a few minutes of my break time, which should be to regain strength for my next lessons, but I believe it is definitely time “lost” well!
(A. – Switzerland)
Keep the conversation going
When our children entered adolescence, we found it harder and harder to understand one other. This led to tensions between me and my husband because we had very different approaches to their behaviour. When we realised that our relationships with our children were under threat, with one son in particular, we understood that we had to go beyond the limits of our own ideas and set ourselves to be the first to love, constantly keeping a conversation going between us and with our children. Now they have all grown up, but we know that our role in educating our children is far from over!
(Mariolina – Italy)