During this weekend, Manos Unidas (NGO of the Spanish Church) celebrates one more year the Campaign against Hunger. And despite the difficulties they do not back down and reinvent themselves so that Solidarity is contagious and spreads to all of us.
This Saturday morning we were fortunate to participate in a round table in Seville, the starting signal for the campaign in our province. We are always excited to hear the testimony of missionaries who have spent more than 30 years on the front line, sharing their lives with the most forgotten peoples, and how, thanks to the generosity of so many anonymous people, the construction of so many dreams, so many schools, health centers… can become a reality.
In addition to our missionary experience, we were asked to present experiences of collaboration with Manos Unidas. In this sense we talked about a small project where we collaborated during our time in Mozambique and also the project that currently support in Brazil to our community in Piquiá. It was also an opportunity to raise awareness about a current reality of the mission.
During the weekend of the campaign we also shared our experience in Mozambique with the parish of San José Obrero, in San Juan de Aznalfarache (a small town near Seville), we told them about a very small project with which Manos Unidas had collaborated with the parish of Our Lady of Peace in Namapa, where we CLM worked for four years.
It was the construction of a multipurpose room, four walls very well used, full of life and hope. And we told them how that space served as a library, where they could sit at a table and chair to write, versus the option of doing it on the floor, on a mat, inside a small hut by candlelight. Where secondary school students could find a few books where they could consult chemistry, mathematics, … in a region where not even the teachers had textbooks, and all their support material were the notebooks that they kept as a treasure from when they had done their training and that they tried to transmit to their students by slate and learn by heart.
And we would talk to them about the work of promoting women that was done there. Thanks also to anonymous generosity, sewing machines had arrived (yes, those pedal ones, to be used where there is no light), and they were taught a trade, giving them the opportunity to earn a living, in addition to creating circles of support, in which to work with them on self-esteem and empowerment in a society where equality between men and women is a utopia.
And we told them about the joy and life that was transmitted in the rehearsals of the parish choir, in that group of young people with whom we worked those values of fellowship, listening, teamwork, trying to accompany them in their growth processes as active members of their society, in their specific historical moment.
And we explained to them how once every two months, the catechists of the 86 communities that made up the parish, came for a weekend to receive Christian formation to take and share with their communities. Many came walking from long distances, eager to meet and deepen their knowledge and experience of this Jesus of Nazareth who was changing their lives. And during those days the hall became the place of meeting and welcome, dormitory and dining room. Shared bread and shared life.
And I remember those quiet afternoons, sitting on those stone benches at the entrance of the hall, from where you could see the simple people passing by, on their way to the market, on their way home, …. enjoying those beautiful African sunsets, and thanking the Father for all that shared LIFE.
Maricarmen Tomás and Alberto de la Portilla, CLM Spain