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In recognition of the United Nations International Day for Street Children on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020, Sister Jolyn “Jules” Dungo, OP, writes about her ministry to street children in the Philippines through the Adrian Dominican Sisters School on Wheels.
By Sister Jolyn “Jules” Dungo, OP
April 8, 2020, San Fernando, Pampanga, the Philippines – Pope Francis summoned each of us to move out of our comfort zones and bring the Good News to the frontiers of Earth. In his pastoral exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, the pope called us to bring Jesus to the very heart of the world so that people may know about God, hope, salvation, love, and everlasting life.
I have been reaching out to children on the frontiers in my native Philippines through my ministry with the Adrian Dominican Sisters (ADS) School on Wheels. The ADS School on Wheels meets the practical needs of the street children.
Together with our volunteers, we meet the children in the marketplace – where they perform everyday labor – and at the city government hall, which has become a meeting place or school for them. We teach the street children and other interested children how to read, write, and count, along with religious education.
Our ministry to the street children has three objectives: to develop a culture of acceptance and equality among children from a disadvantaged environment; to strengthen social functioning and potential through education; and to change society’s negative impressions of street children.
As a social worker charged with reaching out to the street children, I witness their daily struggles. They try to work through socially acceptable ways like selling eco bags and flower garlands. Others work for minimal pay as parking lot attendants, car washers, and fish vendors. They are forced to work to survive.
In this ministry, we deal with the most vulnerable sector of society and we strive to protect them from all forms of abuse, trafficking, and violence. But we want more for them. We want them to dream and to realize their dreams outside of life on the street. We give them opportunities to work toward their dreams, no matter where they come from, their religious affiliations, or their associations.
Engaging in this ministry is transformational. It changes my perception. The street children’s situations allow me to dream for them and to help them to realize their dreams in God’s time. I believe what they need is acceptance, opportunity, and the hope that they can overcome poverty and their lives on the street.
Dr. Jose Risal, our Filipino national hero, once said, “The youth is the hope of our country.” His words are technically and figuratively true. When the good traits of the children are nurtured and developed, they might become teachers, architects, engineers, priests, Sisters, the next national hero or President of the Philippines, or even the next Filipino saint. If these children are included in the development efforts of the United Nations, their dreams will be realized. It takes one individual who believes in them to make a difference.
Feature photo: Sister Jolyn “Jules” Dungo, OP, speaks with a group of street children as part of her ministry.
January 17, 2020, San Fernando, Pampanga, the Philippines – The Adrian Dominican Sisters who serve in the Philippines are safe from the Taal volcano, located in Taal Lake, in the southern part of the island of Luzon. The volcano began erupting on January 12, 2020, and a more intense eruption is expected.
“We are not directly affected,” said Sister Rosita Yaya, OP, Chapter Prioress of the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter based in the region of Pampanga, the Philippines. Pampanga is northwest of Manila, while the Taal volcano is south of Manila. However, Sister Rosita added, the Sisters’ school, Dominican School of Angeles City, was closed January 13 and 14, 2020, because of the possibility of ash blowing in its direction. Thankfully, she said, the wind blew in a different direction and the school was safe.
Sister Rosita and the other Sisters in the Philippines remain concerned about people who are affected by the volcano. Already, more than 40,000 people have evacuated the area.
“We donated to the victims of the eruptions through the Association of Major Religious Superiors, who spearheaded the distribution of goods to the victims,” Sister Rosita wrote in an email. “The Dominican family will also have an outreach program in these coming weeks. As soon as the donations are collected, we will go to the donation centers.”
Sister Rosita expects the Sisters will be involved in the future in ministry to the people affected by the Taal volcano. “The efforts will be ongoing because of the thousands of families who will need a program of rehabilitation and resettlement,” she wrote.
This is not the first time that the Sisters in the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter have served people affected by volcanoes. Prior to the merger of the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies and the Adrian Dominican Sisters, the Filipina Sisters began a ministry with the indigenous Aeta people who were displaced by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. The ongoing ministry at Villa Maria includes religious education and preparation for First Communion and a feeding program for Aeta children who attend the school at Villa Maria and its satellite school in Baranga Diaz. The ministry was expanded in 2000 to include a youth center.
Feature photo: Map data ©2020 Google