‘Just think of how this can change someone’s life’
January 29th, 2014 By Tom Burke Re-broadcast from Catholic San Francisco Online
Our Lady of Angels Parish family fills cargo container for delivery to kids, families in Tanzania
What do you do with a leftover shipping container sitting around a business site you are moving? Ask Marc Worrall of Our Lady of Angels Parish, Burlingame, and he’ll tell you: You fill it up with items for kids and families and send it to Tanzania, Africa, where they will be put to very good use.
Worrall, whose family owns New England Lobster, came across the empty container – 10 feet wide, 20 feet long and 8 feet high – when the wholesale seafood company moved from South San Francisco to Burlingame. “I thought it would be a good idea to fill it up with relief goods and send it somewhere in Africa,” Worrall told Catholic San Francisco via email. “A few months later I met Father Mark and I thought what better than to send the full container to him.”
Father Mark Mmbando is a Capuchin Franciscan friar serving in Africa. Capuchin Franciscans of the Western America Province have been serving the people of OLA since the parish was founded in 1926. Worrall and the priest met when Father Mmbando was visiting OLA about a year ago.
In April, the container will go on a freighter from Oakland. The trip to Tanzania should take 59 days. Father Mmbando will take over custody of the goods from there. Worrall said the container cost about $2,500 and he is absorbing all shipping costs and taxes. The container can also be used as a house or some type of shelter after it is emptied, Worrall said.
“I am not sure what this will cost me personally,” he said. “I just think of how this can change someone’s life. If a sewing machine can land in the right hands in Africa that person could start a small business and have a new life.”
Worrall explained that the people of Father Mmbando’s parish are extraordinarily poor. “We are asking for household goods for the hospitals and schools and community areas,” he said. “Most of the village people do not have electricity. That is why I am looking for solar lanterns.” Worrall and volunteers set up trucks for donations at OLA the weekend of Jan. 25-26 and will again be accepting donations around Masses Feb. 8-9. Items requested include summer and winter clothes for children ages 5-15; school supplies, sports items, medical and personal hygiene items, sewing machines, computers and components, small tools, toaster ovens, and microwave ovens. Monetary donations are also accepted. Checks should be made payable to Our Lady of Angels Parish with a memo note Father Mark Mmbando and mailed to 1139 Eastmoor Road, Burlingame 94010.
Worrall’s daughter, Jessie, as well as his sons, Sean and Nick, and wife Sue have joined in on the “Send It” project one and all. The motto of the project, Worrall said, is: “Impossible is nothing.”
At OLA Masses leading up to the collection dates, Jessie spoke about the living conditions for the people in Tanzania. She said simply: “I know it is much different to be a 9-year-old girl in Burlingame than to be a 9-year-old girl in Tanzania. The village people are very poor, walking one mile to get clean water. Mud huts have dirt floors.”
Worrall and his family will travel to Tanzania and Father Mmbando in July. “My long- term goal is to get kids involved and to have them have a better understanding on how much we have in comparison to the rest of the world,” he said. Worrall would like to see schools and communities adopt parishes or other communities with an open supply of goods and communication going to them regularly.
“The key is to get children involved at an early age to start making changes,” Worrall said. “Children can start communicating with other kids from other parts of the world. Our kids will learn to appreciate what they have.
“If we can make a small difference in a small part of the world it’s a start. I think we all have a mindset of where do we start, what can I possibly do to make a change? We have to abandon that type of thinking. Think big, start small.”
Our Lady of Angels is located at 1721 Hillside Drive near El Camino Real, Burlingame. Masses are Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 7, 8:30, 10 and 11:30 a.m.
From January 31, 2014 issue of Catholic San Francisco.
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