EUROPE/RUSSIA - A free market in the parish, for the mutual support of the faithful

Monday, 16 May 2022 solidarity   local churches  

Moscow (Agenzia Fides) - "Our 'free market' is not only a bazaar to exchange objects and clothes, but also a place where people meet in a happy atmosphere and help each other", says Nataliya Zykova of the Moscow Catholic Congregation of the "Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary" on the initiative that took place these days for the ninth time. The idea came up in 2016, when she was walking through Moscow with her husband Dmitry and saw "a strange space, with happy people, clothes, books, lemonade and biscuits", says Nataliya: "We asked what it was all about, and they replied that they were stalls where people exchanged items for free. Back home we thought of proposing a similar initiative in the community". Thus, in December 2017, a group of seven Moscow Catholics organized the first edition of the "free market", a second-hand market on the premises of the Catholic Cathedral, the bishopric of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God. The items on display at the stalls vary widely (mainly clothing, bags and shoes) and are all in good condition. In return, those who come to look around and make a choice leave something they want to get rid of to be displayed alongside the other pieces on offer: the initiative also sees itself as a way of encouraging people to use responsibly to raise awareness of the planet's resources, an issue that is often neglected in this region. The exchange takes place free of charge, and those who wish can leave a voluntary donation for organizational expenses. For example, those who cannot afford to buy clothes can get a sweater or a pair of shoes in exchange for a cup; and everyone, regardless of their economic possibilities, can recycle their own items, thereby contributing to the integrity of creation. Nataliya and Dmitry are delighted that so many other volunteers have joined the initiative over the years and that it can now continue without their direct involvement. Nataliya highlights the beauty of an initiative that has also borne fruit at the level of human relations: "Over the years, the Free Market has offered many people the opportunity to meet and share their needs, also in terms of fraternal support: Often lasting bonds and meaningful friendships develop after a first contact. It is one of the ways to put into practice the words of Paul to the Galatians: "Bear one another's burdens" (Gal 6: 2): this is the reason why the Free-market was born". (CD) (Agenzia Fides, 16/5/2022)