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March 2012

Since our last update, wonderful, dramatic and painful events have occurred. They have caused terrible disruption, with the loss of many lives, property, homes, leaving behind thousands of families without their loved ones and the few goods they possessed. Our island of Negros Oriental and the city of Dumaguete have been seriously tested. We were still looking for the missing people after the occurrence of Typhoon Sendong on December 17, 2011. Then on February 3, 2012, a strong earthquake struck the population, so dear to us.

7People of Hope: Children and teens with Srs. Cristina and Maria

Lately I recall the words of our Blessed Frances Schervier as a teenager. After losing her dear mother, she was tested again with the death of her two older sisters. She said at the time: "The wounded heart did not have time to recover from one death to another. Blessed be the name of the Lord. God provides everything for our good. "

More on a personal level, the succession of all these painful events during the time of our mission in Dumaguete has deeply touched my life. Since my arrival to the mission, I have experienced two personal losses in the first year. God also permitted the loss of my sister Fioretta and, now, of my brother Andrew. These trials make me feel particularly close to the people of Dumaguete and Negros, but I do not clearly know if I completely surrender to the will of God in the way that Mother Frances did when she said: “Blessed be the Lord!.”

 

1Sr. Maria Atorino with volunteers 2Srs. Armi and Maria with Shelter of Hope guests 3Bishop Du and Sr. Cristina at the celebration for Blessed Frances

Here are a few glimpses of our missionary life!
December 2011 was marked by beautiful happenings filled with God's presence and the support of many friends and benefactors. We celebrated our foundress, Frances Schervier, with the presence of our beloved Bishop John Du. There were also several Christmas parties with our guests, children and poor people living on the streets of this city and other occasions offered by people who are sensitive to our service. They helped during the festivities, offering meals, small gifts and other small gestures that have brought back smiles on the faces of the lonely and abandoned.

4Shelter of Hope Banner

Typhoon Sendong brought us closer to some families who live not too far from us. There were so many dramatic scenes before our eyes, so many shocked and speechless faces, not knowing what to do. Often during this period we felt helpless, sad, and angry in the face of injustice, indifference and abuse of power. We discovered that many families who are now homeless had illegally built along the Banica River. The local government had allowed the construction of these inferior buildings, but moreover forced them to pay rent as well.

While we were trying to help the typhoon survivors, the earthquake struck. Thank God, there were no casualties and little damage in Dumaguete. However, in some cities north of Negros, the search for the missing is still going on. Aid is slow to arrive because of destroyed bridges and completely unusable roads.

Recently we heard shameful news about corruption in the Central Government of the Philippines, which offers millions of pesos in exchange for votes in the next elections. How can we not feel a sense of outrage at the spreading of this culture of injustice and death? That sum of money could be used to provide jobs for thousands of families and to rebuild roads, bridges and homes for those who are now living in tents.

Another cause of pain and disappointment is the reality that most of the children we helped go to school had dropped out around Christmas and are now back on the streets. Why? The total absence of family life or their guardians. . . .we wonder what to do to break this generational cycle of poverty, which often does not even guarantee survival.

Signs of Hope
However, there are indeed beautiful signs of life and hope. There is so much to share about the solidarity, the generosity of many people, the help and the availability of many young students that bring relief to earthquake victims. A story with a happy ending is that of a boy who, thanks to the alternative school, was admitted to high school; or the story of mothers with babies or still pregnant, who are being helped to assist their children with dignity.

As a result of an accident, Mrs. Nicolas was forced to crawl on the ground; now she is happy and able to move around in a wheelchair. After we went to her home (if we could use such a word), we discovered an unknown world of indigenous people from the mountains. There are about ten families with about 35-40 children, with no birth certificates, and, therefore no rights. Schooling does not exist. In collaboration with the parish and local agencies, we are trying to place them with dignity back into society and also in the church. In fact, they declare themselves Catholics, but are not baptized or married.

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Damage from Typhoon Sendong

Our most heartfelt thank you for your support and help along with our prayer for what you live and suffer during this period, which is difficult for everyone. Only God can adequately reward your availability and generosity.

We greet each of you with great affection on behalf of our poor.

Yours,
Sr. Armi Sison
Sr. Maria Atorino
Sr. Cristina Di Nocco
Our email is:
sfp.cristina@gmail.com

Many ask how you can send your support to us:

support

or you can send a check to:
Franciscan Sisters of the Poor Foundation
708 Third Avenue,
Suite 1858
New York, NY 10017

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