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Days not quite as sunny as this one here at the Trócaire office in Maynooth are regularly brightened by the kind words and gestures of our supporters.
The postman’s bag is often the source of great inspiration for me. Letters of support arrive written by people from all walks of life – young and old, from the four corners of Ireland and beyond.
Recently, we received a letter from an unlikely source. It was from Fr. Paul O’Connor, who hails from Campile in Co. Wexford, but now lives in Flavio Alfaro, a community on the Pacific coast of Ecuador.
The people of Flavio Alfaro are not wealthy. They know poverty. They recognise the struggle faced by over one billion people every day to feed themselves. Indeed, a letter from such a community would normally be seeking assistance.
However, when images of famine and extreme hunger in Somalia were beamed onto their television sets, the people of Flavio Alfaro decided to do something about it. Under Fr. O’Connor’s guidance, they came together and organised a collection amongst the community.
Incredibly, that collection generated almost €10,000. In his moving letter to us, Fr. O’Connor explained that the average donation of $10 was more than a day’s wages for most of the people.
Fr. O’Connor arranged for the money to be sent to Trócaire and we will now use it to continue our life-saving work in Somalia.
Reading Fr. O’Connor’s letter reminded me of the innate goodness in people. The deep desire within us to help each other, even when we ourselves do not have much.
The people of Flavio Alfaro live ordinary lives but they remind me that we are all capable of extraordinary things.
Photos: Top, middle right and bottom. The community of Flavio Afaro in Ecuador. Middle left and middle right. Barey Mohamed Abdirahman and 2 year old Farhiya Adbi Billow; Gigo and 1 year old Mohamed. at Trócaire’s Dollow Health Centre, Somalia. July, 2011.