Ministry in the Philippines
Like Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church,
and like the Holy Women, messengers of the Good News,
Faithful Companions of Jesus are sent to proclaim the truth,
Jesus who is alive and lives among us. (Constitutions # 3)
The Faithful Companions of Jesus in the Philippines are involved in the following ministries:
FCJ Center in Bagong Silangan/Payatas, Quezon City
The FCJ Center offers a program of integrated community development to approximately 5,000 people who live adjacent to one of Manila’s main dumpsites. Many of the residents earn a living by scavenging materials from the dump and recycling them, others are tricycle drivers or casual construction workers.
The FCJ Center offers programs and supports in the following areas:1. Health
- Many cases of TB and Primary Complex have been treated and people have been cured of the disease. In the past three years 5,690 people attended the weekly clinic.
- Five Community Health Workers are making a positive contribution to health care in the area. Regular Health Education Seminars are given both in the clinic each Monday and in the community. Health modules are now integrated into other programs of the FCJ Center.
- Malnourished children and elderly people are receiving additional nutrition several times a week. In the case of the children, the mothers are receiving education in nutrition and other aspects of childcare.
- Several people with special health needs are supported on a regular basis. This includes people with mental illness, people in advanced stages of cancer, children with cerebral palsy or physical deformities.
- When necessary, support is also given to victims of accidents, and to people in need of hospitalization.
2. Family Support
- Through the House Repair Program 154 houses have been renovated and now have a good roof, four walls and a cement floor. The family members themselves have done the work. The improved housing has had a positive impact on the wellbeing of the families. 31 Mezzanine floors or partitions or bunk beds have enabled families with many children to have greater space and privacy. 68 Toilets have been constructed and this has created a more healthy environment. The 102 Water Tanks have contributed to greater hygiene.
- Parenting Education Sessions have been successful in helping mothers to improve the quality of life of their families. New needs have emerged from this program – the fact that many young mothers need special support and so the Young Mothers’ Club was formed.
- Another need was that of literacy training as several people cannot read or write so a Literacy Program was established.
- Many efforts are made to address environmental issues. Monthly street and river cleaning sessions have been conducted, waste management seminars have been given, plays about the environment have been presented by the youth and posters have also been designed. However, because of the proximity of the dumpsite cleanliness of the environment remains a challenge!
- A community vegetable garden has been established and the vegetables are distributed to the poorest families.
- Many thanks for your generous support in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy which struck Manila in September, 2009. We were able to offer immediate relief to 450 families, to repair 56 houses damaged by the flood, and to reinforce the banks of a creek that runs through the area.
3. Helping people generate income and become more self-sufficient
- Over the past three years the number of women involved in income generating projects has increased so that there are now 91 women who regularly earn additional income in this way. The women are now involved in making cards, gift bags, bead jewelry and woven cloth products, all of which are sold abroad. (Many thanks to those of you who buy the products!)
- Baking, Chocolate Making, Food Processing and Sewing also provide income locally.
- Some women have branched out and have established their own small business after the training they received in the FCJ Center. Others are now helping in the training of new groups.
- There is a thriving Cooperative which has grown in strength. Apart from providing Credit and Savings possibilities to the community as well as a retail store, the Coop has organized many popular social events.
- The Alternative Learning System Program has enabled young people and adults (some of them grandmothers) to graduate High School. Some have obtained jobs, and others have even enrolled in College.
25 children from the poorest families avail of Elementary and High School Scholarship. The mothers of these children followed a six session program on various topics, and further modules are planned.
- There are also currently 26 College Scholars following a variety of courses. These young people offer leadership in the community and tutor younger children every week. Graduates have found jobs and this, as well as their positive contribution to the community, gives an encouraging example to other young people in the area.
- Informal School. In the area there are insufficient places for pre-school children. The FCJ Center therefore established a small program for 6-7 year olds to prepare these children to enter Grade 1 the following year. Throughout the year the teacher works closely with the mothers.
- Computer Education. The Computer Room was completely refurbished during the past three years. There are now 14 computers available to students, there is broadband internet access, and the room is air conditioned. A variety of programs is offered. The FCJ Center has a Memorandum of Agreement with TESDA and in all 40 students have received a TESDA Diploma. Numerous High School Students follow courses in Computer Operations, and there are also classes for adults which are very well attended. The High School Students also follow a Life Skills Course as part of their program. 310 people have followed the computer courses since 2007.
- Skills Training for Out of School Youth. Over the past three years 15 young people have successfully completed skills training programs at Marikina Polytechnic College and other students are beginning the programs now.
5. Special Groups
- KABASI Youth Organization. KABASI (KAbataan/Youth in BAgong SIlangan) now has 80 members most of whom are very active. KABASI is registered with the National Youth Council and it offers a variety of activities to the youth in the community. This is very important as there are several gangs operating in the area and KABASI offers a safe alternative at least to some young people.
- Senior Citizens. We became more aware of the needs of the Senior Citizens in the area. Many live in very poor conditions and without adequate support. An organization was formed for them in 2007. They have a variety of activities and meet in the FCJ Center each week. They also take part in a weekly Aerobics session. They recently began some income generating projects to raise money for their Mutual Burial Fund. They call their association Hawak Kamay (hold hands) and it is enrolled in the Office of Senior Citizens of the local government.
- Women’s Development. Several women attend Painting and Handicraft sessions to help them improve the quality of their products. There is also a weekly Cultural Dance class for the older women. The annual Sports Fest is popular with all sectors of the community but especially with the women.
- Violence against Women and Children. In the past year we have tried in a small way to address the issue of domestic violence in the community. The staff and community volunteers followed a nine session training on this issue offered by the Women’s Crisis Center with which we collaborate. Subsequently a Community Watch Team composed of eight women was set up. They meet regularly and conduct seminars in the community to raise awareness of this issue and to encourage survivors of domestic violence to seek help. Gradually women who need help are coming forward.
Ciony shares about her ministry in the FCJ Learning and Development Center
“A community working together with hope and self- confidence,
living in a healthy environment, and with loving and respectful relationships.”
Vision of the FCJ Learning and Development Center
Having completed my studies, I feel privileged to work in the FCJ Learning and Development Center as a community nurse. The vision of the Center inspires me to give everything that I can offer and to always look around for other aspects of the community that need development. In my everyday experiences I am thankful for the gift of life and the love that my sisters in the community and my family have shared with me in order to prepare me for this work. This is a profound experience of compassionate companionship because on many occasions I hear people’s stories and meet very vulnerable people who come to the Center for support in the emotional, psychological, and financial aspects of their lives.
Working with young mothers once a week is great. Knowing them individually and accompanying them throughout their pregnancy and after their child's birth as well as helping them understand the developmental growth of their child is quite fun. Hearing from them their observations about their babies, their fears, their way of parenting is sometimes challenging, but most of the time it is inspiring. Listening and sharing experiences gives them a chance to open up, to share with trust. Some become confident, reassured and respectful of other’s experiences. They are becoming a support group to each other.
The number of very young women in the community, some as young as fourteen or fifteen, who become pregnant is very worrying. What is hopeful in this ministry is the opportunity to help them, loving them and working with them without judgment. Sometimes it is sad to hear that they don’t understand the consequences of their choices and are passive about the reality of their situation. Many times my heart lifts with joy when the young women start to plan for their future with realistic moves. For example, a few of them have now joined the Alternative Learning System in order to resume their studies.
Each Monday there is a clinic in the FCJ Center. I meet new clients with various illnesses or ailments. I learn a great deal and I enjoy it very much. Some of the patients share immediately and without reservation about their life, marriage and problems; and for me this is a blessing, something to learn and reflect on so that I can take appropriate action to help them. I never in my life dreamed of doing counseling but I notice that I am doing counseling, and it happens at the most unexpected times. Thank to God’s graciousness and thanks to the wisdom of my colleagues on the staff who help me in many matters that are too tough to handle alone, I enjoy my ministry and the opportunity to help vulnerable people.
Now a day’s various activities and programs with the collaboration of other staff members are inspiring and exciting. We share the same dream for the community we are working with and this counts as a great blessing in my life and ministry as a faithful companion of Jesus.
Tutoring for Children in Scout Borromeo
Each weekend children from the squatter areas local to the FCJ community house avail of tutoring sessions. There are two groups from different areas. The children are divided into groups and they receive help with Maths and Language and also enjoy games.
In the Elementary Schools here there are usually 60-70 children in one class, so the children enjoy some individual attention when they come to tutoring. They are taught by FCJs and also by seven young College Students who are FCJ Scholars and who do the tutoring in return for the support they receive for their studies.
The highlight of the year is the Christmas Party for 200 children (two sessions of 100 each). It is great fun but, as you can imagine, rather hectic!
Bracelet making Recollection
Tahanan ng Pagmamahal 'House of Love'
My name is Elvisa and my ministry is supervisor of Tahanan ng Pagmamahal or House of Love. Tahanan is a home for 18 girls aged 3-20 years who have been abandoned by their parents.
We are a team of three house mothers, one social worker and me. The children have many social needs and some of them have already suffered a lot in their young lives.
I try to provide a caring and loving environment for the children.
This is challenging work as each of the girls has her own special needs. However, I love the children and am happy to do what I can to enable them to have a better life.