Sofia and Pablo come from Argentina, together with theirs two children, since few months they live to the School Loreto, near to Incisa Valdarno, to make an experience of life with other families coming from a lot of nations of the world.
Some years ago, tell us Pablo, we decided to make a move towards something we had always dreamed of: to live in a quiet area, have contact with nature and have a house where we could educate our children and grow together.
To achieve this I left my permanent job and dedicated myself to “gardening”, which is an activity I like and was compatible with our project. Our families didn’ t understand, above all because I have a university degree as a Computer Systems Analyst. But we felt that this project was right for our family and we went ahead trusting in God’ s help.
Just as when I was a child I prepared a “little list”, with all the things I would need to start this new work: potting scissors, a spade, and all the tools necessary for this activity. A few days later, some relations for whom we had done a favour called us. When we arrived at their house they were waiting for us with a present: a lawn mower. They gave it to us to thank us for what we had done for them. Another aunt, having heard of our project, gave us an electric saw and so, day after day, all the things I had put on my list arrived thanks to the generosity of the many people who love us.
Meanwhile, tell us Sofia, I also decided to make my list for my work as an architect and received what was necessary for our new life, with the sensation in our hearts that God was helping us as we had hoped and believed.
Some years later with the arrival of new clients, we realised that it was necessary to hire an employee for the Ecogarden , this is the name of our company. After several interviews we still hadn’ t found the right person. At a certain point we remembered that we started everything by making little lists of all the things we needed and so we started to make a list remembering what is written in the Gospel “Ask and ye shall receive” and we entrusted in Providence to send us the right person.
Three days later Leonel arrived. An eighteen year old who came from a very difficult social background and who had decided to change city to change environment. He knew nothing of gardening; he had worked as a stocker in a supermarket and before that he collected cartons in the rubbish to sell.
He wasn t the person we had imagined but we felt that it was important to help him by giving him the opportunity to learn a trade and above all by making him feel welcome and valued. Welcoming this person who was in difficulty was a way for us to thank God for all the good we had received as if HE had sent him to us.
For me it was a very special experience: I had to teach him to live with plants, to discover that each one is a living being which needs a certain kind of attention and everything had to be done with care. He had to learn when and how to use the tools of the trade.
With time we made progress not just with work but also in dialogue. One of the things he told me, in a moment confidence, was he had a health problem in his mouth. My wife and I decided help him immediately. The first thing I thought was to show him where to go but then I decided it was better to go with him and this made him very happy. We started with the first talk with the doctor who advised on the next steps and we were always near him following the treatment. Sofia and I decided to invite him to stay with our family for a while.
To my surprise, I realised how his arrival in our company had brought many benefits because with his help I could have lunch and other breaks.. As regards work, he had learned different jobs perfectly and our clients were very satisfied.
With Pablo and me, we have discovered that by giving work to a person who for various reasons had difficulty entering the job market, we were contributing to a renewal of the world of economy and labour in the place where we live, following the spirit which the Carism of unity of Chiara Lubich had taught us from when we were young.
During the years, many young people have worked with us and there are many experiences of how they began to live the culture of giving with clients, colleagues, people in need….
A while ago a competitor told me he had lost a client resulting in an important loss of income which would have covered for example his daughter’s studies and his loan , now unsustainable. The only solution was to find new clients.
This situation was very important. I put myself in his position…and I asked myself: Who do my clients belong to? Are they mine or God’s who gave them to me? The answer was clear: My clients are YOURS.
We decide together, Sofia and I, to suggest to three of our clients to contact my colleague and so in this way I could give my contribution, even if a small one, to help his situation.
This meant less income for our company, just in a moment where we didn’t have a lot but Providence arrived very quickly and new clients got in touch giving us more important and advantageous work.
Meanwhile , the colleague I had helped had received more money than expected from a client that I had passed on; and he decided to donate this money for projects to promote social inclusion by the Focolare Movement. It seemed to me not the right moment to be so generous looking at his situation but he said “Then it is the right moment to give!”. I was without words and it was a lesson for me.
Our little experiences rubbed off on our original families and friends and we noticed that our change of life style decided years ago, that is leaving a secure profession to follow what our hearts suggested, gave fruit in ways we could not have imagined. Also for this reason , we decided with our children ,to try an experience of growth in our relationship with God and take part in a Family School here in Loppiano which would prepare us better for this service to humanity which we love and want to spend our life for.
We are here with families from all the world. I was surprised at how our children play with the other children even if they don’t speak the same language. It is lovely to see how the other children share their toys and their books to read and colour.
We live the experience of sharing property which means you are missing nothing as in a big family.
We are grateful to Chiara Lubich taught us to how to live so we could be the seed which dies in the ground of this world to generate hope and desire to live a life which is beautiful and truly free.