Voices from Oceania. People from the #daretocare campaign speak out
Ever since the beginning of the 2021 United World Week, members of the Focolare Movement from different cities of Oceania have engaged in concrete projects showing their commitment to caring for the environment and its people.
During the 2021 United World Week (and beyond), many young people and adults from the Focolare Movement have carried out projects of caring for environment and the people in their regions. They weren’t alone in their efforts but worked in collaboration with other young people in local organizations and with indigenous communities. Very different projects have been done under the #daretocare name: from cleaning a river in Sydney, to visiting homeless people on the streets of Melbourne, to planting local plants, to helping indigenous communities in New Zealand. Here are a few testimonies from Oceania:
Rosette talks to us from Sydney, Australia
On the First of May 2021, which marks the of UWW, we cleaned up Cooks River, which is south-east of Sydney, in partnership with a youth-led non-profit organization called Seaside Scavenge. The precise purpose of the ONLUS is to clean up beaches and waterways. Therefore, we helped them to collect the waste along the river and weighing the trash. Along with the return for the weight of the waste collected, we also had bottle caps, which we exchanged through another association, to buy second-hand items, such as books, clothes, shoes, toys, and so on. So, not only did we help clean the river, but some of us helped to reduce the waste of buying second-hand items instead of new ones.”
During the day, each one of us had the opportunity to declare our own commitment for the care of the environment. The commitments varied: from buying less clothes, to planting small vegetable gardens on our property. The day was an opportunity to work ecologically and to collaborate with another organization.”
Christian from Melbourne, Australia
“With some young people from our city we decided to contribute to the preservation of the natural environment in our region. We went to a nursery of local plants, which is run by the local community, to help them plant local plants and cultivate the natural ecosystem. We prepared a large area of 100 square meters, to plant 200 species of native plant species which will be planted in this region. Then we separated several plants that had overgrown. From 16 fern plants we were able to fill 96 pots!”
Robert, from New Zealand
“One ongoing activity in our area is called Dare2Care for Te Awarua-o-Porrirua. It involves supporting the restoration of Porirua Harbour in the southern region of the island, in the region of Wellington, Aotearoa-New Zealand. Two cleaning events were held with the support of the Porirua City Council. These events also had the involvement of locals from Te Ngākau Tapu, the Catholic Māori community in Porirua and Ngāti Toa Rangatira, the local iwi (tribe). The events were successful and created real community spirit. We aim to support iwi in aspirations to lead the restoration of the harbour, ensure the waters run clean and enable customary shellfish gathering and fishing without fear of pollution. The challenge is to avoid it being a ‘flash in the pan’ occurrence, but to maintain a long-term program that brings help, support and makes a real difference on the ground.”
Sara from Melbourne, Australia
“With a small group of 11 young people from my city, we decided to get to work at being closer to the homeless people who live on our streets. Some of us prepared sandwiches and hot meals. Others baked chocolate biscuits, and prepared packages with personal hygiene items.
When we went out onto the streets, we tried to be close to each person we met and, when someone had a lot to talk about, we stayed put and encouraged them to tell us their stories. One man named Brendan, with whom we chatted a bit, thanked us a lot and said that what he was most in need of were these small, simple gestures of love, just a shake of the hand or a smile that made his days better. We were surprised, then, in seeing how many of the people we met didn’t want to take everything in the packages that we offered them. They only took what they needed and gave back the package, asking us to give the rest to someone who was more needy.
As I listened to the interview with Focolare President Margaret Karram during United World Week, I was struck when she said that ‘dare to take care’ is an opportunity for us to act with ‘courage.’ I also felt that I had to be courageous in sitting down and talking with someone on the street. But after I launched myself into this small/great action of ‘caring’ towards another person, I realized this made me happy.”
We thank our friends from Oceania for sharing these stories that encourage us to take care of Nature and of the people around us. We await more news from your beautiful land.
Kia ora! Goodbye!