Philippines: youth activities build solidarity

14 June 2013

The United World Week in Manila and in other city centres was filled with activities of solidarity and sharing that were the result of years of painstaking effort.

“As the United World Week was being celebrated in Jerusalem, we also held a few activities here in Manila” say the Youth for a United World in the Philippines. The internet link-up with the Holy Land was the launching point for a week filled with events. Ten projects, called ‘fragments of universal brotherhood’ were presented. This took place on 4th May and involved Manila, Baguio and other Philippine cities.

The week began with a celebration of unity, called “Bridge”. Everyone, linked up with Jerusalem and with the Youth for a United World from other Filipino cities, set out for the various projects around the city: from nutrition programmes to environmental projects, from hospital visits to projects in favour of the less fortunate. 379 young people signed up from Manila alone.  

They went to Sulyap ng Pag-asa, a residential centre served by the Focolare in the crowded and deprived areas of Quezon City, Metro Manila. The Youth for a United World carry out regular activities in favour of nutritional assistance.

At the Sinag Hospital, which desires to respond to the invitation of Jesus to love the poorest, they have experienced that by spending their time with the patients, their own problems seemed small.

Another activity took place at Boys’ Town, a home for hundreds of street children, run by the Department of Welfare. There, they met children between the ages of 8 and 17. They spent time together, caring, singing and dancing. The Youth for a United World were also invited to share their secret, “the art of loving.” In turn, the children offered some of their own songs and dances. The Munting tahanan ng Nazareth is a centre for the physically and mentally handicapped. One Youth for a United World explained: “With our visit, we wanted to share God’s love that is present in all of our hearts, no matter who we are.” Young women who have been victims of abuse live at Marillacc Hills where, for some time, young women of the Focolare have been going to visit them. Because of the trust that has been built, the centre also allowed the young men to take part in the activity.

Then there were the on-going projects in the Bukas Palad (open hands) centres, social projects of the Focolare that were begun to respond to the widespread poverty. With their motto, ‘Freely you have been given, freely must you give,’ they are providing services in the fields of health, education and community building. The young people went to both the Social Centre in Tramo, Pasay and Tambo, Paranaque, and in La Union in the north. In the first centre they took part in an ecological project to clean up a creek, which involved many of the local youth who were also happy to get their area clean and liveable. In the second centre in the north of the Philippines, they created six workshops, ranging from kitchens to basketball matches involving 55 children. Other activities in the north included an ecological project for cleaning Pagudpud, a popular tourist destination. There was also Fazenda U-Day in Masbate, where people were invited to come with their friends for a few hours of music and experiences on how to live and promote brotherhood.

At the conclusion of the week, the young people met again for a day entitled, “Bridge 2.0, a project for unity.” It was the moment, now that the activities were over, to make a commitment for the future. By adding their signatures to a large bulletin board, each one could commit him or herself to be a bridge for a united world.

The Philippine Youth for a United world underscored it, borrowing some words from Focolare president, Maria Voce when she spoke to some youth gathered in Loppiano, Italy, on 1st May: “Once you’ve built a bridge, if no one walks over it, it’s useless. The purpose of a bridge is to unite. It’s there inviting you to cross it and meet. Don’t become weary. The bridge is there for this reason. Taking the first step means turning towards the young people around you, those next to you, saying or showing that you are truly ready to do something for them and with them.”

For more information on the Fragments of Fraternity, please look up the UNITED WORLD PROJECT website.

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