By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
While many of us may be losing sleep over how Covid-19 is affecting ourselves and our loved ones, Vicky Yousaf is worrying about how to keep feeding poor children. “I want to continue my work, but at night I was wondering if I had money left over, how I would spend [it for] my family…. God is good”.
A Facebook friendship
Some people are comfortable with virtual Facebook friendships. Others are not. There is a certain anonymity about it that may keep the people we are "friends" with at way more than arm's length. Even Pope Francis’s warned about the danger of becoming a “virtual” Church last week.
The question is, “Can we transform some of our virtual friendships into concrete relationships?”
Then Victor Yousaf came along. We became Facebook friends on 5 April. He sent a desperate message via Messenger: “Please forward a message from me to your government and bishops. We all need you and your help in these days. We have no job, no food. Try to understand….”
This is the type of message that strikes to the heart. This is one way the “Share the Journey” Campaign that Vatican News has been covering is possible for anyone who has virtual friends..
A normal person
Victor Yousaf is 35 years old. He lives in Sailkot, Pakistan. His parents, Suraiya and Yousaf Masih are both 60 years old. Victor has two brothers, Kamran and Wilson, aged 30 and 33. One of his brothers teaches music in a private school and records Christian music. His children’s names are Jaaron and Sharon.
Victor told me that Christians in Pakistan are “mostly poor and illiterate, including us. This problem”, he says, “is not addressed”. He himself went to a government run school. However, he is educating his son in a private school. As he was growing up, Victor’s “mom and dad always taught me and my brother to do good and taught us the Bible”.
Victor’s job as a salesperson for Telenor, a mobile data and digital services provider in Pakistan, earns him 18,000 Pakistani Rupees monthly. That translates into approximately 110 USD. On that salary, he is supporting his own family, and providing for his son’s education.
Three months ago, Victor says that he felt that God was “asking him” to feed poor children. His family began to help him. “We have to help them”, he says. “These are the people who cannot even get food daily. But I do not know how long they will be helped by us because we have to take care of our family too…. It is a great pleasure to spend a small amount of money to make a meal and give it to the poor child. We are so happy to help… We have no more money.”
I did not limit myself only to the journalistic questions, who, what, why, when, where. My last question was about his dreams. His response? Victor’s dreams are “to help suffering humanity” and to one day “work within the Church”.
What if each one of us took the time to really get to know some of our Facebook Friends? The thousands of miles that separate us melt away before the mystery that unites us. I hope your dreams come true, Vicky. I hope that help arrives soon so that you might continue experiencing the joy that Paul talks about when he says “there is more joy in giving than in receiving” (Acts 20:35). I pray that others might choose to experience that joy and reach out to others, using the gifts that God has given them.