Chile: The "olla común" (common pot), a responsible answer

on 10 Oct, 2020

Santiago (Chile), 10/10/20, Sr. Licarayén Torres Muñoz.- Since the social disruption in our country, and even these days when we continue to experience the health disaster caused by the pandemic, we have witnessed a deep solidarity that weaves through the lives of people in the midst of so much pain and uncertainty. This solidarity springs up from the realization that we are all part of the same people and that our interests converge in the construction of a fairer and more humane country.

In the face of our government's ineffectiveness to deal with the most urgent problems of the people, especially in cities as populous as ours, it has been the same citizens who have had to seek the means to survive, especially in the face of hunger caused by unemployment, lack of possibilities and the devastating economic crisis.

One of the ways that flourished during these months is the so-called “OLLA COMÚN” (common pot) that has marked the history of our country in previous times. The “olla común” is the result of the responsible answer of social organizations, local assemblies, neighborhood councils and, in many cases, basic Christian communities that, inserted in vulnerable populations and neighborhoods, continue to offer possibilities in the search for dignity that is often violated by the authorities.

This is how our neighborhood, REPUBLICA, so well known and loved by all, has been the cradle for our local assembly to give a concrete response to the hunger of our neighbors who are suffering. Almost since the beginning of the pandemic, the soup kitchen “Margarita Ancacoy” began, supported only by the collective and collaborative work done by the neighbors and by donations from people in the suburbs and other places in Chile.

For the past two months or so, with the desire to be with the people and respond to the needs that we live and suffer today along with others, together with Sr. Berta Tapia Cena and Sr. Gabriela Vergara Ríos, we join the community work of our neighborhood in the “olla común”. Every Thursday and Sunday, we get together along with other men and women, young and old, to cook for around 160 people. It has been an incredible experience for us, not only for the meal that is shared and given to the poorest, but also because our community has gone out of themselves to meet people who don’t think or believe in the same way as we do. But when in search of the common good, all our differences disappear. It has been a risky experience that has taken us out of our comfort zone. We have been able to discover the diversity and humanity hidden behind faces that seem strange to us but are no longer strange when grating a carrot or peeling a potato together, we find out that life and its stories affect everybody in the same way.

Chile has begun a new way of practicing politics, a new way of relating to each other, the horizons have changed and we hope that also as Church we can navigate through the deep waters that our people have begun to feel and live. The “olla común” is just an example of the new country we want to build and that as a Vice Province we want to accompany.

 AC Olla común 6