The Community Pantry Movement Has Reached Timor Leste

"Make compassion universal."

community pantry
ILLUSTRATION War Espejo

(SPOT.ph) What started as a simple bamboo cart filled with free food being given away along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City is now a movement showcasing the Filipino value of pakikipagkapuwa (sympathy for others) and a modern-day version of the age-old practice of bayanihan. The community pantry, which was started by 26-year-old Patricia Non, is being replicated from Luzon to Mindanao with the intention of feeding the hungry. The movement has now reached the city of Dili in Timor-Leste, where they have just launched the first community pantry.

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"Noting the local economic effect of this month’s historic flooding in Dili and the year-long COVID-19 lockdown in Timor-Leste, I took the opportunity to discuss with some Timorese friends and diplomats about the concept of bayanihan and particularly showed them photos of community pantry set-ups in [the Philippines] to which they gained much interest," Vice Consul of the Philippine Embassy Laser Sumagaysay said in a Facebook post. This inspired residents in Bairro Farol to set up their own version of the community pantry on April 21 along Rua Governor Serpa Rosa.

Community Pantry

community pantry
PHOTO Courtesy of Laser Sumagaysay
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community pantry
PHOTO Courtesy of Laser Sumagaysay
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In SPOT.ph's quick chat with Sumagaysay, he explained that the organizers are a mix of Timorese and Filipinos. "We’re helping the local organizer with the concept (on how a community pantry is different from the usual relief ops, etc). The concept is new to them. Also [helping] with their funding and logistics because the economic condition of many here [is] not good," he told us. He also clarified that the help he and his colleagues are extending is of a private capacity and not through the embassy.

He shared a realization that humanitarian efforts are not only about providing relief aid, but also "introducing beneficial Philippine practices, values, or concepts in the hopes that it could be replicated, adopted, or improved by the local community." And the spirit of bayanihan is just that, a concept that Timor Leste can use after a strong typhoon and flashflood slammed their nation.

"Halo compaisaun universal (Make compassion universal)," Sumagaysay exclaimed. He is encouraging other Timorese residents to set up their own community pantry in their own areas.

For donations to the Bairro Farol Community Pantry, you can get in touch with Rozilia Esperanca Dos Reis on Facebook.

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