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f11Sr. Armida and Sr. Monica with a plant of “Dragon Fruit”My experience last summer in the Philippines continues to resonate in my present daily life.  I spent almost two months with Sr. Cristina and Sr. Armi in Dumaguete City. Even though I arrived during the rainy season, I was still able to enjoy a bit of the beautiful Asian sun! What first struck me was the lush vegetation. Our house has a good production of fruit and vegetables, thanks to the loving care of the two women who help out, Rose and Marilin.

I worked in the Center for street children which the sisters initiated five years ago. What struck me most was the extreme poverty and need – and their ability to smile despite the numerous difficulties they face in life.  At first, living in a new culture disoriented me, but the conversations with, and the care of, the two sisters with whom I shared this time helped me to adapt; thus, I was able to live in the mission with tranquility.

 

 

f14Sr. Monica and Sr. Cristina with children from an orphanage   f03Sr. Monica with some guests of the Soup Kitchen

I had many experiences and met many good people – all a part of my story:

•    f07Sr. Cristina and Sr. Monica during a visit to a villageNear our house is the Charity Village where people live in houses made from bamboo (ever since the 2009 typhoon destroyed their homes). I met ‘ordinary’ people who live hand-to-mouth: a select few have minor jobs, others do their best by selling objects they gather from the street – and, of course, there are also those who panhandle. The villages are built around a square in which the people congregate.  There are many children everywhere.    Animals also wander about in the square and on unpaved roads -- goats, cows, chickens, roosters, dogs -- sharing the same destiny as the people.

•    I visited different orphanages, where children who cannot live with their families for various reasons (too many family members, mistreatment, neglect, death of parents) spend their childhood years. They are taken care of mainly by religious communities: it is here they find food, lodging, education and affection.  

•    I spent many days in the Center with the street children. I passed my mornings simply, sharing in the following activities: organizing the linens, teaching and learning a little English, Italian and the local language (Visayan); and working hard to find games that might interest the children. It really did not take much to make them smile!  

•   f06A meeting with some young people from the community The benefactors of the Community and the Center truly demonstrate the Biblical imperative: “ask and it will be given to you!”  If a cellphone message was sent out at 11am with a request for some ‘flip flop’ for the children, Sister Providence was at the house by 2:00pm bearing flip flops and more - food, fruit etc.

•    I also enjoyed the young girls who meet together once a month in the Community House to share the Word and their experiences. 


My time spent in Dumaguete was indeed worthwhile, and I believe it is a wonderful opportunity for every daughter and son of Mother Frances to be able to experience and share in this reality. It is a simple and ordinary life lived with love in the light of the Charism.  
Our Lady of Hope is a truly rich mission with so much potential still to develop! Together let us ask our good God and Mother Frances to help us find more fully how we can be Apostles of the Resurrection in the Philippines.   


Sr. Monica Stasi, SFP

Published: January 29, 2015