|A Parable Comes Alive in The Philippines - 30 May 2017|
It wasn't the road from Jerusalem to Jericho but in so many other ways our recent visit to Bacolod was an opportunity to truly experience the parable that underpins our ethos. Ms Anderson and I enjoyed a brief but significant visit to this very poor part of The Philippines and were privileged to witness the work of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan up close.
Sr Anne Dixon picked us up at the airport and, together with her fellow Sisters, soon answered for us the question, "Who is my neighbour?"
The first answer to the question came when we visited the kinder school that had been set up by the Japanese Sisters in 2004. Established next to a shanty town, the kinder school allows very poor children to start on their educational journey and sets them up for success in the reading test that will determine their eligibility for free primary schooling. The dedication of the Sisters and staff was clearly evident with teachers rostered on to prepare classrooms even though it was the students' summer holiday.
Next we visited the community centre, set up to engage the local women in a myriad of tasks to build their capacity and to contribute to the community. We saw where they prepare food for the feeding program for the slum area and even saw a collection of gumboots waiting for the next slum clean-up day that the Sisters would organise. Everywhere we saw a commitment to helping others.
Sr Anne then took us on her regular visit to one of the local prisons. We saw the joy she brought as she warmly chatted to the women, many of whom had been trapped by poverty and had turned to selling drugs as a way of feeding their families. We were inspired by the faith on display as the women joined with Sr Anne in a time of prayer, using the age-old practice of lectio divina as a focus for spreading hope and peace. We witnessed the women's gratitude for Sr Anne's paralegal assistance as well as for her practical help in purchasing woven items created by the women with material and on frames supplied by the Sisters.
Next we were off to the Boulevard, a slum area adopted by the Sisters. Here we participated in the feeding program, visited two First Communion classes and learnt of the scholarships that the Sisters have set up to help educate these poorest of the poor. Again we witnessed the sense of joy and community the Sisters have helped to spread.
The final Good Sam ministry we witnessed was in the township of Conception, not far from Bacolod. The Sisters help there with the education expenses of local seminarians and administer scholarships supported by Japanese benefactors. Their help is practical, targeted and very much appreciated.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan sees an outsider recognise a neighbour in need and respond in a selfless act of compassion and genuine assistance. In the work of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan with the people of Bacolod, we experienced a modern living of that parable that will definitely stay with us. Their example reminds us all that we too must "Go and do likewise."
Deputy Principal - Mission