Malibay : a review of the mission in Philippines

’The community in the Philippines, as they prepared to leave that country on the 24th of January, sent us a review of the mission they had carried out there: seeds were sown that flourished and have now been confided to others. Let us continue to remember them in our prayer.’ 
 
On the invitation of Bishop Ledesma and the Religious of the Assumption and after a visit by Sr Mercedes (Mother General) and Anne, the Congregation discerned and decided to come to the Philippines. 
 
We have been here since January 2001. For the first nine months the first group of sisters stayed with the Religious of the Assumption in San Lorenzo Village, Makati. This gave the opportunity to contact many NGO’s and religious congregations – thus giving a ‘feel’ for the place. We began our apostolate/mission with the people of Barangay 180, particularly Isla, Maricaban, Pasay City. It is normal for us to ask the people to help us identify their needs so that we can begin to work together at a grassroots level. This is what we did, and from the beginning we have slowly worked out the projects that are there today. These projects can be described under the headings of: Clinic, Youth Group, Early Learning Center, Livelihood, Savings Scheme, Special Needs Group. 
 
CLINIC: The clinic is staffed each day by women of the area whom we have trained to be recognized community health workers. One of them we have sponsored so that she could fulfil her dream of becoming a midwife – she graduates this year. The Dominican Sisters of the Presentation (Dominican Sisters of Tours) who have bought our house will have in community a sister who is a nurse and who will oversee the work of the clinic. Dr Ben Molino, Dr Lee and the volunteer expatriate nurses will continue to come.
 
The YOUTH GROUP meets on Sunday afternoons. One of the “old boys” leads the group with enthusiasm. He is happy that the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation will accompany them.
 
The EARLY LEARNING CENTER provides pre-school education for children. The six teachers have received Montessori training and have adapted it to the context of a low income/ squatter area. The children respond well to this method and they leave at five years of age happy to start elementary school and confident in their ability to mix with children from other backgrounds. A remedial class is provided daily for children who need extra tuition. For years on Saturdays volunteers have come from different religious houses – the Marist Brothers since the beginning. We also initiated a lending library with the help of monetary gifts from England and donations of books from the transient expatriate community. All the educational side of this project will be under the care of the Religious of the Assumption who have been a true sisterly support to us.
 
LIVELIHOOD: Isla para sa Kaunlaran ng Maricaban, was a response to provide some sort of work for the people of the area. Today it has continually renewed contracts with Kultura, a souvenir shop to be found in all the large malls of Metro Manila, providing gifts made from recycled materials. The Livelihood project is now taken over by an Englishwoman and will continue to provide dignity and income to the eighteen workers.
 
The SPECIAL NEEDS GROUP supports families of children with disabilities. Fe Asuncion, a friend of the community and volunteer with the group, has taken responsibility for it. This also includes administering the donations of money for diapers and money for transport to therapy.
 
For a few years we had a community in Cebu in the Visayas (Central Philippines). The sisters put a lot of work into the vocation ministry there. We had women interested but none were willing or able to make a free commitment to religious life. This community closed and the sisters are now on mission in communities in Uruguay, Peru and Vietnam. 
 
For ourselves in Manila we are sad to leave our mission amongst a people with clearly visible as well as felt needs. Life entails change and religious life entails many changes. We are truly grateful for the care, interest and prayers of all the Congregation and we thank God that we have found people to accompany our friends in their journey as we set out on new paths in France, Madagascar, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ireland.
 
The Malibay community
03/03/2014
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