|Local support for victims of Typhoon Haiyan: How the need of someone far away brings them closer|
“Above all, our very nature requires us to be interested in others. When there is something beautiful within us, we desire to communicate it to others. When we see others who are worse off than we are, we desire to help them with something of ours. This need is so original, so natural, that it is within us before we are conscious of it. We call it the law of existence. We do charitable work to satisfy this need.”
- Fr. Luigi Giussani, The Meaning of Charitable Work
Over the past month, people throughout the United States have helped raise thousands of dollars with AVSI-USA for typhoon victims in the Philippines. Here, in their own words, are the stories of two local communities that, when confronted with the tremendous need of the people in the Philippines, discovered their own need to help bear their burden and to accompany them in their suffering.
Communion & Liberation Students (Fordham University - New York, NY)
After hearing about the typhoon in the Philippines, it really hit me to see those people suffer. I could not help but ask myself what my existence had to do with the suffering of the people there, and what I could offer their needs.
A friend suggested that my university friends and I have a bake sale. The more I thought about it, the more enthusiastic I became about the possibility to respond concretely, even in a very small way, to the needs of the victims. So I asked my friends from Fordham University, the Communion and Liberation Community in New York, and campus ministry to join me.
While there are many organizations collecting donations for the Philippines, we were grateful for the opportunity to support our friends at AVSI, who have been present in the Philippines for many years, and were already on the ground offering assistance to people in Calabanga, and other places affected by the typhoon.
The bake sale took place on December 15th at the Fordham University Church. We set up in back with a variety of cookies, brownies, cakes, and festive goodie bags. Although many students were not in a position to give,—perhaps because it was finals week— many parishioners were happy to contribute, taking the time to donate and ask questions about AVSI. It was surprising to see that many people thanked us for being there and giving them an opportunity to partake in this simple gesture. We were moved by their generosity to give for nothing in return (many did not even want a cookie back). We were all so thankful to be able to help even just a little to the people suffering. Judging by the apparent joy on each of our faces, I think I can speak for all of my friends when I say that we all became more ourselves by giving what we had to respond to something that provoked us.
Bruno, Grace, Joe, Peter, Tom, Simo, Stephen, Sofia, and Winnie all partook in the initiative
- Sofia Weiner, CLU student at Fordham
Brookewood School (Kensington, MD)
The news of the most devastating typhoon to ever hit the Philippines, leaving thousands dead and millions displaced, sent shock waves throughout the world. Here, in the eastern part of the United States, with Superstorm Sandy and its destruction still fresh in our memories, students at the Brookewood School, a small K-12 school for girls in Kensington, MD wanted to do something to reach out to victims of the storm. We knew that whatever we did would be a drop in the ocean of need, so we decided the show our solidarity and communion with our Philippine neighbors by offering daily prayers and making sacrifices to forgo some purchases – large or small – and contribute those monies instead to AVSI.
The Advent season provided the perfect occasion. A group of about 10 high school students arranged to wrap boxes with Christmas gift paper to be placed in each of our 12 homerooms so students would be reminded of the continuing need of our suffering brothers and sisters in the Philippines each morning. The students in charge visited each homeroom and explained the situation, what the drive consisted in and who the monies would benefit. They distributed flyers containing all the needed information, put notices in our online newsletter and invited parents, teachers and administrators to contribute as well. Little by little as the days progressed, the boxes started filling up. To our surprise on the day before Christmas break, we counted $486. A last minute appeal was made to reach $500.
Student Flyer: Click Here
- Barbara Gagliotti, Teacher at Brookewood