Sandra Cortis interviews Glenn Bugeja, one of the main protagonists of the “Dare to Care” project in Malta
Focolare Centre, Kappara, 24 September 2021
Interviewer: Sandra Cortis
Glenn, thanks for coming this afternoon to share your experience of Dare to Care with our community in Malta. I thought maybe you can share certain with us experiences of this project.
Thank you for this opportunity. As you mentioned the Covid situation made us think how we can continue living concretely the Gospel. At that particular time there were a lot of requests from various NGOs asking for food, and a lot of food banks were being set up so we thought it was the right opportunity even for us to give a lending hand.
So we started with started with monthly collections among our people, but which were then extended to relatives and friends, and contacts, where we were collecting food for one particular NGO a month. We were choosing the last Saturday of the month. We used to send a notice to our people. We would also contact the NGOs and tell them that we are going to do a collection for their NGO, for their service users and asked them what they needed, for example there were NGOs that needed toiletries rather than food, because they had received quite a lot of food the previous month.
So there was also this opportunity to create this relationship and contact with these various NGOs. Then we invited the members of the Movement, and also their relatives and friends, to bring over the items at our Focolare centre and we also used to invite them to come over. It was an opportunity also to get to know them, for them to get to know us. That was it.
Some who were suggesting “But why don’t you do it bi-monthly?” But we insisted that it was the right opportunity to continue doing it month after month, and it was always a success; month after month it was always a success.
Good. Individuals reached out in several way to the needs of the community apart from the food collection. I personally believe that the sharing of good practices helps a lot and gives a ray of hope; it encourages us when we hear of others, what’s happening, what one is doing. How was this translated to the community, to us Maltese who are citizens?
Yes, as you mentioned, our people were ready to help in all ways and means. I remember one particular experience of one of our volunteers who gave her second home to a person who had met her on the bus stop. This particular person needed a house where to stay, because she was forced out by her previous tenant, and this volunteer gave her her house and I questioned myself, “Am I ready to do this?” And as I was mentioning our people tried to support in all ways and means and we were recounting these experiences, sharing them on our website and we also created a Dare to Care page where we were sharing the best practices amongst our people.
I’m sure the Webinar was the result of all the collaboration and the relationships which we have built throughout this year in particular. Maybe you can share with us?
When we were discussing what activity to do for United World Week – this time round it was with the theme of Dare to Care – we had the idea of holding a Webinar, an exchange Webinar between those NGOs that had benefitted from our action, of the food collection, came to our mind. So we invited all the NGOs with whom we had worked in the past and we invited them for an exchange. We gave them the opportunity to present themselves, to present the work they are doing and also recount how we helped them with our donation. It was a good opportunity for our people to get to know more these NGOs, all the brilliant work that they are doing, but it was also an opportunity for these NGOs to get to know more each other and also to see how we can collaborate together.
They were very grateful for our donations, even for contacting them, for asking them what they need in particular, because as I mentioned before, we were paying attention to give them the right things for their service users. And they showed this gratitude in many ways, especially by posting on their Facebook pages, or on their social media channels, letters of appreciation for our collection, including photos of the collections that we made. And even the last collection we made was very much appreciated by a particular NGO and also told that many families that were hit by Covid are still benefitting from the donations that we are giving through these monthly contributions.
So, it seems that we have experienced the reality of the Gospel of sharing and giving concrete love to our neighbours in need.
I’ll just quote one line from this particular NGO who said: “St Vincent de Paul says that the poor are the icon of Christ. And Pope Francis says that the poor are the veritable face of the invisible God.”
I think this says it all, so I conclude with this line!
Thanks Glenn for all this sharing and I would like to thank all the community for their concrete love.