THE rise in the numbers of new infection cases and deaths for weeks now have left many people feeling hopeless and broken.
There were sick people dying in tents, homes, or, in at least one case, inside his car while waiting to be accepted in hospitals for treatment for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). Infection cases reached from 8,000 to 15,000 per day, bringing the total number of infection cases in the country close to one million.
The lockdowns at Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal left thousands without jobs and some businesses closed. Government aid was not enough. What can they do? Who or where do they turn to for help?
Fr. Jerry Orbos, in his homily at his 10 a.m. mass last Sunday or on April 18, 2021, spoke of the pervading sense of hopelessness and asked that we do not give up as God has everything planned for us. The gospel then was about Jesus startling disciples when he appeared to them in his resurrection. Jesus said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” Orbos used that saying to call on the faithful to not be afraid, to not lose hope. He said there will be a “breakthrough” that God has planned to happen in his time. Wait for it. Look forward to it. Orbos didn’t say when it will happen or what kind of breakthrough it will be -- the development of a better vaccine or a pill to end the Sars-CoV-2 that causes Covid-19, or the miracle of healing.
When the first community pantry was set up in Quezon City, donors came in and the hungry who lined up were given their turn at the pantry to take what they need. Was this the breakthrough we were waiting for?
Droves of people were being generous, caring for those rendered less fortunate by this pandemic. Not only the rich or those in the middle class are helping as farmers and fisherfolk are also donating their extra harvest and catch. A street vendor took her turn at a community pantry and placed her goods on the table in exchange for what she got. She was told she didn’t have to “pay” but she insisted saying she was selling her goods so she could have food on the table and now she has food.
The community pantry fever has spread throughout the country. There are a few in parts of Metro Cebu and today, a Sunday, some new ones are set to appear. People who line up take only what they need and do not hoard. They see others too have to take their turn at the pantry.
The first one set up by Ana Patricia Non beside a tree along Maginhawa Street, Quezon City, was the breakthrough that inspired others to create their own pantries in their neighborhoods and in areas where there are hungry people.
Fr. Orbos didn’t say last Sunday what “breakthrough” we could look forward to but the community pantry fits the description of one that allows us to overcome the feeling of hopelessness and despair.