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CRS Rice Bowl Lenten Story of Hope: Week Three

March 11, 2024

From the Office for Social Ministry

The Christian theme of giving freely, or agape love, plays a vital role in this year’s third Rice Bowl Lenten Story of Hope which comes from Indonesia. Located in Southeast Asia between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, Indonesia has diverse cultures and nearly 280 million people—the fourth highest population in the world! Many of the country’s more than 17,000 islands are in the Ring of Fire, a region around the rim of the Pacific Ocean where volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are common. Climate-related disasters such as cyclones also threaten the islands and are becoming more frequent and destructive. Strong rains and wind from these storms—combined with long periods without rain, called drought—make it difficult for the population of Indonesia to grow food. Evita and her family live on Flores Island, where she keeps a home garden for food and income. To help her family and community become more resilient against natural disasters and have more reliable access to food, Evita participated in a Catholic Relief Services’ program, through which she joined a disaster preparedness group. The group helps their community stay safe during emergencies like cyclones and earthquakes. They created a system to warn people to evacuate and identified evacuation routes, assembly points and resources they can use during a crisis. The group also maintains a community garden. They grow vegetables like beans, eggplant and water spinach to provide healthy food for their families. They use a drip irrigation system that conserves water so the vegetables can grow even during a drought. Evita and her group members use the garden to teach people from other communities how to start their own. To protect their garden from the wind and prevent erosion from the ocean waves, Evita and her group planted trees. They also cleaned up the river and other areas in their town by picking up trash, which helped prevent flooding. Evita says, “When I first joined the village disaster preparedness group, I thought, ‘What will I do or give to help the community?’ After I’ve been involved, I see the benefits of what the community and I did.” CRS believes our Catholic faith teaches us how important it is to live in community for our collective growth and that all people can participate in giving to and building community, seeking the well-being of all (especially of our sisters and brothers in need) trying to imitate the way Jesus gives, always and unconditionally. For more on CRS Rice Bowl, including delicious meatless meal recipes for Lent from other countries such as Indonesia, please visit www.crsricebowl.org.As we continue on the Lenten journey to come closer to our merciful God, let us deepen our reflection on and imitation of Christ’s example of  “gratuitousness”  through self-giving in service and sacrifice. Mahalo.