Lima, 07/25/14, (Sodalit News – Peru). A joyful group of Italian students embarked on the great adventure of bringing material and spiritual aid to needy areas in various cities of Peru. The missionaries did construction work and helped the elderly and children in Lima and Arequipa Peru.
Looking to share the love of Christ to the most needy, the Christian Life Movement in Italy organized a mission trip to impoverished areas in a couple Peruvian cities.
Prompted by the Christian Life Movement (CLM) in Italy, 70 young men and women who are finishing high school in Rome, Milan and Switzerland, along with a group of college students decided to take three weeks vacation and free time to help and share with those in need in the cities of Arequipa and Lima.
The organization of the trip began in October with participants helping to organize different activities such as art exhibitions, dinners and dessert-sales in order to raise funds. Others helped by contacting companies for donations. And in some cases the young volunteers’ parents got involved. They also organized various preparative meetings from March to June. They had one meeting a month in Rome and one meeting per month in Milan.
During the first week of missions volunteers worked at a school in Villa Cerrillos, a settlement in Arequipa where they built a mini-soccer field, a playground for children and trimmed the garden facade. The afternoons were devoted to accompanying the elderly abandoned of the St. Vincent de Paul home and the abandoned children in the Saint Rose and Saint Benedict Cottolengo home.
The second week we worked in Cañete, in the settlement Las Lomas de Cerro Candela. The missionaries divided into 12 groups built 24 prefabricated houses for families living in extreme poverty. At the end of the week Mons. Ricardo Garcia, bishop of Cañete, visited the settlement and, after a brief liturgy, traveled from house to house with the missionaries to give his blessing to every family and their new home. The third week they worked in Lima accompanying children at the handicapped school La Alegría en el Señor, children suffering from cancer in the Frida Heller house and some elderly abandoned in the San Lucas elderly home.
For Pietro Candia, a 15 year old missionary, the experience of the mission trip “was very intense and exciting. In these three weeks, I think I really understood that simple phrase that we have on our shirts: ‘It’s more blessed to give than to receive.’” He also added that the missions helped him “think hard about God, because it surprised me to find people who apparently have nothing and yet possess an incredible faith.”
“The trip to Peru transformed my ideas and convictions about what I thought God was,” explains Santiago Masetti, from Rome who also notes that “to see people suffering, even very sick people who have faith in God made me understand that the love of God really does exist.”
Allegra Morelli remembers that when she decided to go on the mission trip she “didn’t know what it was going to be like, I mean I thought I was going to help people with economic difficulties, physical and mental problems, give them a needed smile. However, I realized that it wasn’t going to be like that, “in the end, Morelli added, ” paradoxically, we were the ones who were being helped by the people who we came to help,” and notes that thanks to the mission trip “it’s possible for us to understand the true value of the simple things, of love, and I mean true love, as well as something, perhaps most importantly, like faith, because the faith gave so much joy to these people.”
Talking about his experience, Eugenia Brignone said that trying to share the experience “was about searching ineffectively to find the right words. You can’t explain the void your stomach feels when a girl with whom you have played all day tells you she has leukemia. They didn’t see Ricardo’s shining eyes when he showed us his new home saying ‘yesterday we were able to sleep here!’ I was there. I realized that it doesn’t take much to make a difference, only 21 days to change the lives of some people and leave a beautiful memory to another. Thanks to the commitment, strength of will, to great satisfaction and teamwork I came to understand what the saying ‘It’s more blessed to give than to receive’ means.”