As soon as we arrived, the person in-charge of the village indicated a place where we could build a shelter as a base for our activities in the village of Sta Cruz. Every day, the children ran to greet us with shouts of joy as soon as they saw our car coming along the road. The youth more discreet but just much in need of our attention recounted with great sadness that they all used to gather to play volleyball. Half of their group died in the typhoon. There was no more volley ball. The following day we went back with a volleyball net, two volleyballs that we had brought with us from Manila as well as some badminton sets, a basket ball and a hoop. From that day resounding laughter could be heard again throughout the village. The parents, consoled and surprised “Sister, you have brought joy back to our village.”
Having become aware of the various difficulties experienced by the people of the village, we diversified our services: parallel to the service of listening:
Sr Rachel went around the hospitals with several families for various different medical conditions, two heavily pregnant women for ultrasound, aware that they will give birth in the precarious conditions of their homes (tents at present!) to be sure that their babies were in a favourable position and to find medication for an epileptic child, infected wounds etc. Our connections helped. We contacted friends of ours who are Dr’s from Manila who also helped us; Arthur together with the children cleaned the surroundings removing the glass and sharp plastic scattered all around, plastic bags scattered here and there….the area cleaned up, the ambiance lighter, hearts pacified, progressively the village came back to life and regained the strength to start from scratch. And everyone would need a lot of strength.
Sr. Sophie of JesusWe kept the gifts we brought on your behalf for the last day (food, toys, baby clothes etc) to ensure that the relationship between us and them would not be affected – our primary objective being to build a relationship with them. We want to build a long term relationship with these people. One of the children said to Sr Laetitia: “Sister, even if you don’t have anything, come back…it is you we want.” We concluded our stay in Sta Cruz with a Christmas party on the evening of the 16thVerna, one of the Social Workers of the MVP Second Chance Program had brought one of her friends along, a magician in his spare time, to give a magic show. Everyone loved it! This was followed with the favourite party food – pancit! Just then, I personally got a feel for the inner change that had taken place in the secret of their hearts. Suddenly the sky was over cast, it began to rain, and the thunder groaned, lightening flashed across the sky, and then it poured down and soaked everyone but everyone’s laughter was louder still. I looked at the children who no longer blocked their ears, ignoring the rain for the laughter that united us all under the ACAY tent, squashed up together, laughing, and celebrating a little bit of Christmas in our Philippine crèche.