Solidarity from the Shrine in a very poor neighborhood of Guayaquil
110 handbags delivered for Mother's Day, a welcome to the Shrine, togetherness, validation and celebration
Hna. María Auxiliadora Bohórquez
June 09, 2021
In May, a group of Schoenstatters from Guayaquil organized a solidarity campaign amid the coronavirus pandemic. This was part of an evangelizing project which has been going on for 10 years, in a poor neighborhood near the Shrine. It is about offering an embrace, appreciation, support, validation, prayer, joy, and the delivery of useful items, as a sign that the dignity of the human being transcends his reality, both physical, as well as emotional and spiritual.
It was a time of grace, family, and hope. Isa Gavilanes, from the Girls’ Youth, encouraged other girls, including Micky Dumani, to give underprivileged mothers a handbag with toiletries and things they need most as a Mother’s Day present. They would also be given a card with a message of faith and hope. These mothers from the Nueva Prosperina sector are friends of the Shrine because they have been formed by Schoenstatt couples for the last 10 years. Some come by themselves, others with their spouse. This project is a legacy of Sister M. Cecilia. They have also sealed their covenant of love with the Blessed Mother.
Handbags, soaps, deodorants… and much love
Alcohol, soap, shampoo, trinkets, shawls, deodorant, accessories, and very nice handbags were collected. There was great joy among the members during those weeks of collecting donations. Beige, black, blue, red, and green handbags arrived at the Shrine. The ladies from the Mothers Branch donated very elegant handbags, new and used, in perfect condition. Between Isa, Micky, and María Isabel de Gavilanes’ group, from the Mothers Branch, they assembled about 110 packages.
It was important to arouse the generosity in so many hearts who collaborated. There were girls from the Girls’ Youth who made the cards, one of them even wrote a very emotional letter, couples gave soap and other practical items. It was a display of fraternal love, of the joy of giving something practical and needed. It was an opportunity to put into practice the yearning to give and serve, something we sometimes do not know how or where to do. Clearly, we cannot eliminate poverty, but we can embrace those in need and offer them friendship in the shadow of the Shrine and make them feel the immense dignity they have before God.
Mothers from poor neighborhood celebrate in the Shrine
The distribution of the first 40 handbags to the mothers of Nueva Prosperina was on May 24, the day which commemorates Mary Help of Christians; the same day that Guillermo Lasso assumed the presidency of Ecuador. We could say that it was a way of expressing with facts that we want to help our homeland. It was a morning of grace, family, hope, and much joy. There were testimonials from the mothers of Nueva Prosperina, with prayer, dialogue, and the distribution of the handbags, which made them very happy.
The mothers looked very beautiful and happy. They were handed roses from the Shrine. Many had lost their husbands, siblings, uncles and even a child to the pandemic. There was pain, but not without faith. One of the women asked for a red handbag, instead of a black one, to help her overcome the grief she felt in her soul. Some told how they helped other mothers who are even needier than themselves.
Beverages and cake were served, considering Covid protocols. It is worth noting the imprint that couples and the sisters have been leaving on these underprivileged ladies. In addition to the leaders, the Castillo, Mármol and Mendoza couples, there was Keshia, from the Girls’ Youth, who talked about her covenant. Prosperina’s mothers also brought a gift for me, the sister they now “have,” and I gave them a brief motivational statement regarding the recently celebrated Pentecost feast. Thus, they received the Holy Spirit and we experienced togetherness, after a long time in which nothing could be done in person. It was all outdoors. The purifying air of fraternal love was breathed.
This apostolate is reproduced and contagious
Since there were some handbags left, we decided to gather clothes and food as well, to make another distribution. Sister M. Leticia got food and Sister M. Virginia donated notebooks and pens, and so, with another group of girls from the Girls’ Youth, together with boyfriends and parents, we went three days ago to the city, giving a little hope to the poorest that we found along the way.
On Sunday, May 30, we closed the month by going to Nueva Prosperina to meet the other 50 mothers of the groups, who are led by six other Schoenstatt families. Adriana Aguirre, from the Mothers Branch and the Gavilanes family, who led the handbag project, participated. The joy of being together again – the Schoenstatt leaders and the ladies who come to formation – was felt in the atmosphere. We renewed our covenant. And as we parted ways, we said, “What a great joy is felt in mornings like this one!” Then, with the Villavicencios, we went to meet a disabled lady and were able to give her a nice handbag.
Our gratitude goes to each lady of the Schoenstatt Mothers Branch, to each girl, to each couple and sister, who with special love delighted these mothers. And we especially admire those couples from the Families League who have been getting together for 10 years with the people of Nueva Prosperina to evangelize and be evangelized. They donate their Saturdays or Sundays to reach out. With the pandemic, new paths are being sought. Long live the current of solidarity that emanates from our Covenant of Love!