A Festival for Peace concluded United World Week in Ecuador. It was a veritable expo of fraternal actions promoted by the young people of the Focolare Movement. The account of Francesco Ricciardi from the international delegation that travelled the roads of Ecuador in an experience that powerfully brought out the communitarian vocation of the South American continent. “Traditional and modern musical instruments joined together in giving life to a real feast. Young people from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas took to the stage. The whole world is in Quito today!” “Even from amidst last week’s destruction, we saw a chain of generosity and solidarity emerge,” Juan Carlos reported. Many concrete experiences of after the earthquake were presented on the stage.
Jesús recounts: “When we saw the first pictures, we realized the serious extent of the damages. With several friends we began to organize a collection of basic necessities. We worked from morning until the middle of the night, for love of our brothers and sisters.” Natalia continues: “We focused on areas that were devastated by the earthquake, trying to respond to the cry of suffering. At first it wasn’t clear how we could be of any help. Then I realized that I could love by listening and taking on the pain of the people I met.” David says: “I saw open hands that didn’t hesitate for a single second to give: food, water, medicine and money; hands that didn’t have anything to give, but pitched in to help. I saw an Ecuador shattered by desperation, thirst and fear. But I saw faces of joy, satisfaction and hope at receiving such selfless assistance. I worked beside people who left everything behind: the job, school and even their own family to help people who had lost everything. I got a close up look at the goodness of the Ecuadorians and others.”
Some artistic offerings made the celebration even more pleasant and helped to enhance the testimonies. Melany recounts: “When I began to sing in the university chorus I realized that, to have a place in the chorus my friends hadn’t hesitated to offend and insult others. One day, I decided to share the songs I had written. It was a first step. Since then everything has changed. Others have also begun to share their hidden talents that they are finally able to display without fear! The relationship among us all has very much improved. On May 8, 2015 we put together a concert of Latin American music with the goal of transmitting the value of fraternity.”
Lebanese young people Giorgio and Lara, even though immersed in one of the bloodiest wars in history, found the strength to love everyone: “The war in Syria has produced 6.5 million refugees inside the country and 3 million have fled to neighbouring countries. Nevertheless, hundreds of public rallies have been held throughout the Middle East to raise funds and supplies of all sorts, and to give a joint witness as Christians and Muslims that unity is possible. Concerts, feasts and prayer vigils have transformed the feast into hope, hatred into pardon and revenge into peace. So many families with such poor financial resources have taken in Iraqi refugees. In Syria many have said to us: “Love conquers all, even when that seems impossible.”
David and Catalina presented the “Peace Schools”, a programme promoted in collaboration with Sophia University Institute: “The objective is to create spaces of formation in the theory and practice of fraternity, strengthening relationships with oneself, others, Creation, objects and with transcendence. Universal brotherhood could create a politics that is at the service of all: an economy based on communion; a balanced ecology: a world that is everyone’s home.” The programme is one of the concrete efforts of the United World Project.
The festival of inculturation concluded with Samiy, an indigenous young person from the Kitu Kara community: “We’ve spent a week together in which we have experienced that it is possible to bring fraternity, unity, solidarity and peace into our lives, into our local environments and into our world. Humankind is alive. Our commitment is personal, but we can do it only if we feel that we are part of a community. Today we were witnesses to the beauty and diversity and the richness of the cultures.” The joy was irrepressible. During the final song everyone inside the arena was dancing! Young and old, children and teenagers: everyone dancing for joy. But it was no fleeting joy, but the awareness that we are many, a single people with Love for its banner. And as Lidia and Walter said: “This is no conclusion. This is only the beginning!”
Source: Città Nuova online