For almost a month now, like all of you, our mission in Manila Philippines , have been confined. Shabbat of the world and of the heart, yes, but life in ACAY will never lack spice or zest, even in times of confinement. Every day brings a new plan B. Plans A are systematically modified. Compensating for changes, for absences of one or the other, keeping the morale up for the young people, to prevent an atmosphere of anxiety creeping in. In addition to the absence of tricycle engines, the workers are silent and, curiously enough, so are TVs, karaoke and radios. Manila is experiencing a surprising silence.
“Edna, dont forget your mask (because everyone here wears one)! You were coughing “
“Jinky, thanks for the ginger lemon tea”
“Alexandra, your messenger is flashing, it’s the school sending messages“
“Sister, I’ve got everything I need. As soon as I can, I’ll send you six bags of rice for the mission. Rona (former School of Life girl) ” wow…
“Sister, did you take your vitamins? It’s the old people who are dying. Joana ” grrr….
” Finally, Lou can’t come anymore she has been in contact with a person infected with coronavirus 8 days ago, 4 employees have to be quarantined ” glups.
” Sister you need anything? a Lazada order is on the way and will arrive during the day. Thibault and Marie” too cool…
For my part, I have chosen to stay as much as possible at the School of Life to be with the girls. The sisters come and join us every day. Sr Rachel is stuck in New Zealand but fortunately she is with her family. The Second Chance Program is on hold. The teams are working from home. A small team of employees from the School of Life and Second Chance Program, have generously committed to be present as much as possible at the School of Life with us, transported to and from their homes in our van – all this so that the life of the girls is almost normal. For life must go on, whilst attempting to embrace this very particular context. The space that the School of Life offers us today softens immensely the confinement of these days and allows each one to be busy all day long! Once again, a huge thank you to all the donors who have made it possible for us to acquire this house of the School of Life! Its space facilitates our educational task. A good part of the young people’s time is spent in online studies and then, once finished, in ACAY training activities (by skype for some!), spring cleaning, gardening, sorting clothes, sewing masks to give to hospitals, “tik tok”, composing a song of hope to be transmitted as soon as possible on the airwaves.
However, behind the smiles within our walls, and the daily efforts of each one of us, there is a growing anguish and anger on the outside from the people who survive from day to day. Lack of work means lack of income. There is no unemployment benefit here. Government food donations are derisory given the number of people to feed. My heart was broken when I spoke with an elderly man who asked to come and cut down the trees in our house to earn a few dollars, but I could not answer positively because we do not welcome outsiders in the house anymore. The President is asking for more power to intervene more directly without opposition as regards the decisions to be taken, including direct control over hotels and transport.
“Traverse my daugther, traverse” (Christiane Singer)
So with you we are crossing over, we are moving forward without really knowing what tomorrow will bring, but with courage and hope. Let us all keep hope.
On behalf of all of us, I embrace you affectionatelySophie de Jesus – ACAY Executive Director
One of the activities of our beneficiaries during lockdown is making shawl and earings