News from the Philippines
In the Philippines, since February, we have the 2nd degree of epidemiological threat, which is already much milder. However, children still do not go to school, there is still distance learning. From February 10, after two years, the borders of the Philippines have also opened for tourists, and although people still suffer from Covid, everything returns to normal in small steps, but not like in Europe.
On February 1, we started the monthly “FEEDING PROGRAM” – feeding children in the Payatas district. It is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Manila, only a few minutes from our home. Unfortunately, due to Covid it is not yet possible to keep the normal Feeding program as it was before; that is, the children have joint educational activities, catechesis, games and a meal. Every day, from Monday to Friday, the mothers of these children prepare a warm, wholesome meal for their children, and we supervise the work. At noon, children receive a cup of milk or cocoa, a hot meal and fruit. The mothers of these children learn how to properly nourish their children.
There are 50 children enrolled in the feeding program, but in fact many more come, often around 80. We try to ensure that there is enough food for all children, because it is difficult to refuse a hungry child a bowl of rice. We received funds for feeding our children from the parish of the Philippines Fathers in Chioggia, Italy. As soon as we come to Payatas, the children run up to us, greet us and put our hands to their foreheads saying “sister bless” which means “bless me”. Through those children we already know, we get to know their families and their problems. We visit them every now and then, and if necessary, we help as far as possible. Sometimes this help is simply giving children intestinal worm medicine or other medications. We also convince parents of the importance of taking care of their health and healing themselves. Some people here are afraid of going to the doctor mainly because of the cost of treatment, which is very high here. Even though almost all of them are Catholic, most people in Payatas do not practice their faith. They don’t go to church; they don’t take the sacraments. Bearing this in mind, we always try to encourage all families to participate in the Sunday Mass, to pray the rosary in the family and the need for closeness with God in everyday difficult life.
We also often help in completing the formalities related to the sacrament of children’s baptism. In January, we helped six preschool and school children to be baptized. Many children do not have a birth certificate and therefore do not go to school. The procedures for obtaining a birth certificate are quite complicated, and the parents of these children are often illiterate. We help them with these procedures as much as possible. We make parents aware that education is important and thus children have a chance for a better future. The restrictions related to the pandemic limit us in our actions, but we trust that with God’s help this pandemic will end and we ask God for this in our prayers. In closing, I am asking you to pray for us and for our missions here in the Philippines, so that we may develop the work of our Founder here and that we may have many vocations. With heartfelt greetings and prayers for all those who support us spiritually and materially.
S.M. Agata Sobczyk