HOW CAN PAPER BE CHANGED INTO FRESH WATER
Lidia Dudkiewicz talks with Fr. Dr. Kazimierz Kurek SDB – participating in organizing the action ‘Waste paper for missions’, whose purpose is to gain money for building a well in the Republic of the Southern Sudan
A new country created on 9 July 2011 – the Republic of the Southern Sudan is expecting a new support. It lacks basic life means. The society feels the lack of water the most. In the Salesian parish under the invocation of St. Stanisław Kostka in Płock there appeared an initiative of building a well in the Republic of the Southern Sudan for the money gained from the collection of waste paper. Using these experiences also Catholic Association of Journalists of the Łódź Branch organized an action ‘Waste paper for missions’ in parishes in Łódź. The initiative of building a well in Africa for the Polish waste paper is also developing perfectly in the parish under the invocation of the Saint Apostles Peter and Paul in Częstochowa where priest Cardinal Janusz Wojtyła is a parish priest. The cost of building a well is about 45 thousand zlotys. The first well for waste paper has already been built in the Republic of the Southern Sudan. The inhabitants of this African country are waiting for next wells because they urgently need water to live.
LIDIA DUDKIEWICZ: – How did the initiative ‘Waste paper for missions’ – we are helping to build wells in the Republic of the Southern Sudan’ appear?
Fr. DR. KAZIEMIERZ KUREK SDB: – The Southern Sudan gained its independence in 2011 after the years of hard battles, sufferings and humiliations. The reports of those areas, said by missionaries, are shocking. In a group of members of the Catholic Association of Journalists of the Łódź Branch we were thinking on how to help our brothers in faith who have experienced the war and at present are experiencing their joy of gaining the independence. One of the most urgent needs is water which – as missionaries say – is more precious than gold. And, after all, journalists, which results from the public function of their job, should proclaim the truth everywhere at any time, also the truth about human existence, human needs and take it to every human being. Journalists from Łódź Catholic Association of Journalists realise this responsibility and who – using the experience of the Salesian parish under the invocation of St. Stanislaw Kostka in Płock where the action ‘Waste paper for missions’ appeared – decided to use these experiences. Thanks to the media patronage of ‘Sunday’ we have informed readers about the beginning of the initiative supporting the people in the Republic of the Southern Sudan. The list of parishes, schools and communities which join the action is on the website: www.katolickie.media.pl. Thanks to the courage of priests, catechists, nuns, youth and many lay people – money has already been collected for a well, that is, the first well for waste paper.
– Is courage needed here?
– Probably yes. However, we must quote the evangelical recommendation: ‘Who will give a mug of fresh water to one of those least ones, because he is a disciple, I really tell you, will not lose his reward’ (Mt 10.42). And ‘this least one’ – is a child who is very thirsty of water. In the voice of an African child one can hear Christ’s: ‘I am thirsty’, said on the cross. And if we have a chance to give ‘this mug of fresh water’, let’s do it willingly and together. The value of 1 kilo of waste paper is 75 litres of water! And how much waste paper ‘is produced’ by our houses, various institutions... We need courage to believe that the simple ways of apostolic work are very effective and available for many people.
– So, we can say that this periodically appearing container for waste paper in different places – is like ‘Jacob’s well’...
– After a few months of our actions we can collect a lot of experiences. The action is becoming a great form of missionary animation in the parish, schools and town. For example, if waste paper is collected by 300, 400 or even 600 families in the parish – and it happens so – in so many families there appears everyday missionary dimension of care about our neighbours. How great educational significance it has! Children learn at their homes to be in solidarity with others. The action easily allows for throwing the bridge of prayer towards people in need and is an occasion to look at websites devoted to missions and open to meetings with missionaries. Through our action what is not needed, unnecessary, becomes useful – thanks to the human ideas and engagement waste paper becomes ‘a mug of fresh water’. We have already checked the forms of action, for example, on the church square once a month (usually the fourth Friday – the fourth Saturday in the month), a container for waste paper is placed. I am moved when I see elderly people bringing 1-2 kilos of waste paper. Through this ‘widow’s penny’ they join the great action of building a well in Africa. For, they give children in the Republic of the Southern Sudan 75 litres of water for every kilo of waste paper. These meetings at this ‘Jacob’s well’ are very significant. The representatives of various apostolic groups in the parish are trying to be on duty on the days of the collection, in order to thank, shake hands and say ‘God bless you’, give a missionary picture, give an informative leaflet, for example a list of missionary websites or information about Catholic media...In this way another proposal of the apostolic activity among the laity appears: simple, effective and available for many people. Today both parishes and schools can calculate how many mugs of fresh water they have already given to Africa. And this mobilizes parishioners especially when information about the effects of the collection is given regularly.
– Where will the first well be built?
– Probably in Gumbo. Salesian Sisters who opened a new work there and are running a school, asked for creating the first deep-water well ‘for waste paper’. It will be dedicated to Blessed John Paul II. For, it is about a meeting between the two nations at the well to be both a meeting around the teaching of John Paul II which is ‘like clean fresh water’. As long as money is being collected, next well will be built. I think that with a little imagination and a suitable engagement, every bigger Polish city could build in Africa next well every few weeks – it is only about organizing points of collecting waste paper. The cost of one well is 45 thousand zlotys. Every family can practically give 75 litres of water to people in Africa every month – only 1 kilo of waste paper is enough to collect and bring to the place of collection.
– How to organize the action ‘Waste paper for missions’, how to begin it?
– From a prayer and reading an earlier quoted fragment of the Gospel of St. Matthew about giving a mug of fresh water to a thirsty man. Later one has to find a company which buys waste paper. Next, one has to pursue an informative campaign: starting with parish announcements to entering into local media, including internet portals. One also has to give out leaflets to small companies, shops and in parking places. In this way the information also reaches to non-believers whom one can later meet at our ‘Jacob’s well’ every month to talk about the worries of missionaries. Maybe this contact and the participation in the action of help to the missions will become the beginning of deeper learning the Gospel for them, won’t it? It is also worth reaching to, for example, penitentiaries. The action carried out there becomes a blessed area of care for ‘the least ones’. Also building societies are interested in the cooperation. The Catholic Association of Journalists of Lodz Branch is serving their assistance.
– Surely, this action is deepening this experience of the community...
– It is obvious, both in the dimension of family, parish and a city. Please, imagine, how different everyday life looks like, when all the members of families are looking after one another so that their each emptied bag, a written sheet of paper would be put into a box of waste paper but not throw them away into a bin. And, in addition, children, by surfing the net, also open websites devoted to missions and by saying a prayer, they remember about intentions of thirsty children in Africa. For example, cities could cover wells built thanks to waste paper with their emblem. This social activity connects and strengthens the community of faith from which good deeds are born and strengthens the community of the poor. And it can be a contribution to the Year of Faith starting soon, in order to strengthen love and hope. So, one can move ‘powerful waters of love’ from little deeds, a satisfying the thirst and drying tears of African children. So, I encourage everybody to help the Sudan inhabitants at the beginning of their road as an independent nation living in one of the poorest African countries.