By By Columban Lay Missionary Marjorie Engcoy

One of my passions is in the area of ecological justice, so I decided to initiate a recycling program in the parish in Raiwaqa, Fiji, where I am assigned and launch it during the Season of Creation to share my passion with others. The program was designed to help the women of that parish. At first, it did not garner much interest among the ladies, but after promoting and advertising it during the Sunday Masses, it gradually caught their attention and they signed up to join. The program takes place every Tuesday morning and has been attended by a few women of the parish, mostly grandmothers who are waiting for their grandchildren who are attending our parish-run kindergarten. The material we use in the program is newspaper. The cutting and folding did not excite them at first. However, when we started weaving the first batch of photo frames a few weeks ago, their faces turned to pictures of excitement.

They showed renewed interest in learning the craft of weaving. One of them even commented to me, “We can’t be thankful enough. You have brought us back in time,” filling the room with a chorus of joyful laughter. Another day one woman said, “We should have learned that we can use the newspaper for weaving while we were young, instead of now that we are already old. I just hope that our young people today will also have the opportunity to learn this while they are still young, as weaving is part of our culture in Fiji.” The rest agreed with her comment. I could sense their worry that their tradition is in danger of fading away, being slowly replaced by the culture of consumerism.

The purpose of the recycling program was to bring awareness and attention of the community, that the “convenient” culture is detaching them from their beloved treasure, their beautiful country. Having spent a number of years in Fiji, one thing I have learned is to value and be happy with the simple things in life. The Fijian simple way of living has connected me more with what is essential and necessary. It has also taught me to just be enough and appreciate what I have.

In a few weeks’ time, the women will graduate to weaving newspaper baskets – about which all of them are very excited!

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