We have still impressed on our minds the tragic pictures of the Haiyan or Yolanda (‘the bird of storms’) Typhoon that was unleashed on several Pacific countries, especially the Philippines, in November 2013. It was one of the most powerful cyclones ever recorded and from all over the world countries and organizations reacted in solidarity sending help to the victims of the disaster.
Focolare communities, especially in the surrounding countries, also gave their contribution. An example of this comes from the immense archipelago that makes up Indonesia (245 million inhabitants), a country that is not exactly swimming in richness. In the city of Yogyakarta, on the island of Java, young people and adults of the Focolare got organized to do something. They didn’t have any money, but – they said to each other- “there is always something to give.” And so they organized a collection of superfluous things from their own homes, to set up a ‘Bazaar’. “We set up a committee to coordinate the work,” they tell us, “The Focolare Centre became the collection point for all the donations, so there was a constant coming and going of people sorting the items and putting them into different categories, all done with great joy and enthusiasm.”
The Bazaar was fixed for the 3rd and 4th of March, in a Parish Hall 20 km from Yogyakarta. But in the meantime the Sinabung and Kelud volcanoes erupted, “and the victims were our fellow nationals,” Tegar recalls, “We asked ourselves if anyone would still support our initiative for victims who were further away in the Philippines.” They didn’t give up, and though not ignoring the new emergency, they went ahead with the intention of helping those brothers and sisters who were even more needy. “I was chosen to coordinate the event,” Endang tells us, “I myself was the victim of an earlier earthquake and I knew what that meant and how much sadness you experience. So I took on this responsibility, and even though I didn’t have any money, I could give my time and energy. A few days before the Bazaar took place, I was at a meeting and understood the meaning of the phrase that you often hear in the Focolare Movement – when we meet in the name of Jesus, he is present among us. We experienced, in fact, that if we get together and work in his name, he optimizes our work.”
Also for William “it was an incredible experience. I really threw myself into this project. We aimed above all at the people of the village who came to mass on Saturday or Sunday. There were about twenty of us helping out. Someone directed the visitors, others served the ‘clients’ as little by little they came to look and to buy. There was even someone who organized our tea break! It was a beautiful experience: to experience that when you love the others God gives you back happiness in the depth of your heart.” Altogether 5,115,700 Rupiah (452 US$) were collected, a significant sum considering that about half the population lives on 2 dollars a day. “Everyone was happy not just because we managed to collect a good sum of money,” William is keen to point out, “But for the love and the contribution that each one gave to help the victims of Hurricane Haiyan.”
“I think that through this Bazaar”, Wulan concludes, “We managed to give a little happiness not only to the people who will receive the money but also to those who contributed with their ‘purchases’. I am sure that this love will not stop here but will expand to many other places as well.”