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Paraguay: Todo Brillo!

Drawn by the values of the Economy of Communion, a bank worker, together with her children, becomes a winning businesswoman. Today, her “Todo Brillo” business is providing work for 600 people.

Published in: focolare.org on 16/06/2012

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"In 1993," says Maria Elena Gonzales del Paraguay, “when I first heard Chiara Lubich speaking about the Economy of Communion (EoC), I was left feeling very surprised by the fact that she was inviting businesses to divide their profits into three parts: for the needy, for the development of the business and for the formation of young people in the values of the project based on a “culture of giving” as opposed to a “culture of possessing”. It was like a tidal wave that overturned my life.

At the time I was working in a bank where the profits – as we all know – ended up in the hands of shareholders. I began to think about my managerial qualities for I would one day have to give an account to God and to my neighbor. And so I decided to join the EoC project as a way for me to say “yes” to God, placing my abilities at the service of those around me.

I spoke about it with my children who were still teenagers at the time, and they encouraged me to go ahead with the idea. I didn’t know where to begin, but the answer wasn’t long in coming. In fact, I saw many cleaning workers around, who were being badly paid, badly advised and unappreciated. . . I decided to start a small business with some of them, a cleaning business and we found our first client who is still with us today.

Our starting budget was not prepared well and we didn’t have enough money to pay all the workers. Not to lose the trust of our clients, when I finished my work at the end of the day I would put on my working clothes and finish the cleaning jobs myself. In spite of the great effort it required, I felt I was on the right path.

The Economy of Communion places the human person at the centre according to the principle of doing to others what you would like to be done to yourself, striving – as ChiaraTodo_Brillo_01_rid Lubich would say – so that love may prevail over personal creativity and the finished product. Of course, there’s nothing magical about all this, it requires daily effort, striving for quality in every aspect: administrative, operative, relational, from the choice of employees who are disposed to adhere to this solidarity vision of economy, and so on.

Throughout all these years, despite countless difficulties linked to social situations and the economy in our country, every worker contributed their little share and we were able to overcome every moment of crisis. It was particularly in “stormy” moments that we felt most supported by God, our silent “partner” as we like to call Him, the “senior company shareholder”, who showed us, step by step, which path to take, through that interior voice that is always easy to hear when one is willing to listen.

I’m very thankful for the opportunity to work. My daughter also began in Todo Brillo and has now been hired by the bank,” recounts Benita S., who has been working in the business for twelve years.

I feel important here – concludes M. Lopez. I’ve had many problems and I’ve always found support from the business and so much understanding. I continue to have problems, but now I can handle them. I feel like I’ve grown, I see and appreciate the fruits of my work. I feel part of this large family, which is Todo Brillo.

Currently the business “Todo Brillo” has 600 employees and we work in all the major cities of Paraguay.”

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