January 3, 2019, San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines – The street children of San Fernando are gaining the literacy and numeracy skills that they need for a better life, thanks to the Adrian Dominican Sisters' (ADS) School on Wheels program. The program, established in 2017, meets the specific needs of street children who, with other children, had benefited from the Sisters’ religious education and feeding program.
The ADS School on Wheels was established to develop a culture of acceptance and equality among children from disadvantaged environments, strengthen their social functioning potentials through basic education, and change the negative impressions of society toward street children. Basic literacy and numeracy are a priority of the program.
The School on Wheels transport van was named Esperanza, or HOPE (Help Overcome Poverty through Education) in honor of the late Sister Esperanza Bonifacio, OP, who initiated the first feeding and catechetical program for street children around the San Fernando marketplace.
Sister Zenaida S. Nacpil, OP, Director, and Sister Jolyn L. (Jules) Dungo, OP, a registered social worker, meet the children in the marketplace. “They have time for reading, writing, art appreciation and some basic catechetical instructions” as well as a hot lunch, Sister Jules said. On Saturdays, the Sisters and volunteers travel to the disadvantaged community to teach literacy and numeracy to the street children and other interested school children.
“The daily struggles of street children are challenging and really serious,” Sister Jules explained. The street children try to work through socially acceptable ways, such as selling eco-bags, flower garlands, fruit, and fish; working in parking lots; and washing cars. “Young as they are – 6 to 13 years old – they are forced to earn in order to survive.”
Sister Zenaida said that the street children have already learned the value of responsibility to their families, bringing to them the money that they have earned on the streets. They eat some of the food that they receive through the feeding program or other means, “but most of them will bring home half for a younger sibling or parents,” Sister Zenaida said. “What a beautiful attitude!”
Sister Jules added that ministering to the street children is very demanding. “It takes a lot of patience and endurance to survive the day-to-day encounter with them,” she said. At the same time, “living one’s passion for mission makes this ministry enjoyable.”
She also spoke of the vulnerability of the street children. “Many of them are emotionally broken but project a tough front as a means to survive,” Sister Jules said. “But they easily respond to acts of kindness and love. We want to protect lives from all forms of abuse: human trafficking, sexual and domestic violence … It is our responsibility as Christian adults to guide these children to discover what God has in store for them.”
Listening to the street children is easy and “could actually make them feel visible and accepted,” Sister Jules said. “Praising their little good deeds makes them believe in themselves and builds their self-confidence. They need to receive a lot of encouragement to enable them to pursue their dreams.”
Submitted by Sister Jules L. Dungo, OP
Feature photo: Sister Jolyn “Jules” Dungo, OP, stops to talk to street children in San Fernando.
By Sister Antonette Lumbang, OP
November 29, 2018, Negombo, Sri Lanka – The Justice Promoters of the Dominican Family from Asia and the Pacific gathered November 3-7 at Negombo, Sri Lanka, to discuss their efforts about bringing about justice and peace in the region. The countries of Taiwan, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, East Timor, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, China, and the Philippines were represented.
Each congregation/province reported on their justice and peace initiatives, both the triumphs and the challenges in their respective countries for the past two years. The reports by the justice promoters provided the group with a comprehensive picture of the situation in the region.
Common justice and peace issues that surfaced from the country reports were poverty, government corruption, religious extremism, and environmental degradation. The group spent time reflecting on the challenges and opportunities for Dominican family collaboration.
The conference was an eye-opener, with rich input. Sister Christine Fernando and Ruki Fernando, Human Rights defenders from the host country, shared the situation of justice and peace in Sri Lanka. Sister Cecilia Espenilla, OP, from Dominican Sisters International, talked about human trafficking and touched on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Father Mike Deeb, OP, the Order's permanent delegate to the United Nations, shared on Dominican work at the United Nations and expounded on the role of the Dominican Justice and Peace Promoters.
When the delegation broke into small groups, meeting by country, the promoters – invigorated by what they had seen and heard from each other and from the speakers – were eager to brainstorm toward common goals.
The Philippines Justice Promoters identified four areas where collaboration is promising: the annual Dominican Month for Peace; being in solidarity with the families of the War on Drugs casualties; the Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign; and the ongoing formation of Dominicans committed to justice and peace.
The Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter in particular has committed to facilitate and oversee the assistance program for selected families of extra-judicial killing victims in the Diocese of Kalookan. Selected families will be mainly from the San Lorenzo in Dagat-Dagat, Navotas, a parish administered by Dominican Friars. The modules for psycho-social and spiritual healing that will be used in the assistance program were developed by the University of St. Tomas, Simbahayan, Community Development Office.
The extra-judicial killing of more than 4,000 people suspected of drug dealing or drug use is the result of the war of drugs initiated by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, elected in 2016.
By the end of the conference, delegates had completed drafts of strategic plans for each country and for the region, with the hope that these will be followed through to strengthen justice and peace promotion in Asia and the Pacific. It was indeed a fruitful conference.
Coming together and sharing with one another the work we do among marginalized people in our own countries, we justice promoters found renewed hope and encouragement to continue our efforts. To quote from the conference statement, we say, “Thus we continue the journey, step by step, confident in the knowledge that even in small actions, we can contribute to the in-breaking Reign of God.”