Economy of Communion: on the side of the beneficiaries

From Brazil, cradle of the Focolare Project, the Economy of Communion (EoC), the story of one of the many families inserted in the programme of redemption from poverty that seemed to have no solution.

Published in focolare.org

151228 taguatingaIt is impressive to discover that not only is there no exploitation and unfair competition, but also no play on interest rates. These entrepreneurs, like those who have signed up for an Economy of Communion (EoC) – about a thousand throughout the world – pursue the objective of profits that ensure vitality and continuity to their businesses, and wish to live the ”culture of giving” according to the finalities of the project itself: to help the formation and education of the young generations towards this new mentality. Thus they freely and concretely place a part of their turnover at the service of the project.

Socoro and Gomes, Brazilians live in Taguantinga City, in the Federal District. They already had six children when he lost his job because he was an alcoholic.

To maintain the family, she worked as a household helper, but earned very little. Left by themselves, the children became so disoriented to the point that the eldest, an adolescent, got involved in drugs. The Focolare came to their aid and offered the boy a job in the Fazenda da Esperança, a rehab community inspired by the spirituality of the Focolare.

The family also had to shoulder serious housing problems, since their house was not only a makeshift one but also too small for such a big family. They also risked losing the house since they had stopped paying the person who had given them a loan. They presented this problem to the EoC Commission of their region. After a careful analysis, they were offered a loan to cover the late payments, to be paid back according to their capacity to do so. Meanwhile, Gomes started a small business with gas bottles, but because of his alcoholism was unable to keep up with it. Those were really difficult times for them. In addition to their serious economic difficulties, there were squabbles and lack of dialogue. Amid all this, Gomes suffered a heart attack.

Unexpectedly, Socoro was offered a permanent job, as a household helper to a Cardinal, who employed her with a regular contract and a just salary. One day when he went to visit the family, he had an important chat with Gomes, who decided to give up his addiction and change his lifestyle.

Later on the EoC Commission also visited them to verify their housing situation, and on that occasion offered to insert them in the Habitaçao project within the EoC framework, which provides for the restructuring or renovation of houses for extremely poor families. «When I was told about this– confided Socoro – I was really moved. I had the sensation that God himself was giving us this possibility.» The renovation work was mostly done by members of the Focolare community, some of them worked from 5.30 am to 7 pm. Now the house has a living room, bathroom, master’s bedroom and one for the boys and another for the girls.

Living in a house with these requisites helps its inhabitants to regain their personal dignity. Gomes is completely rehabilitated, and has become another person altogether. The couple’s older daughters are now in university, thanks to a scholarship. «Seeing our daughters so committed to their studies– says Gomes – made me also feel the urge to enroll in a course for adults to obtain a diploma.» Even though he had not studied for 38 years, it was a challenge he wanted to meet. In the class, he learned to overcome his shame for being the oldest among the students. His kindness helped him to achieve his goal. When the results of the exams for the Bank of Brasilia and the Ministry of Tourism were given, he managed to classify among the top 200 and was employed in the bank as a clerk.

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