Manila (Philippines) The 17 Communities of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in St. Mary D. Mazzarello Province of the Philippines are committed to meeting the various difficult situations of the population due to the Covid-19 pandemic and seek to do so creatively, especially through the social media, to keep hope alive in the people.
The FMA are responding to the lock-down of the entire metropolitan area of Manila and of the entire Luzon island – the largest in the country – by collaborating with the Educating Communities, VIDES Volunteers/Past Pupils, parishes, local government, charitable organizations, and with people who have a desire to help. The first solidarity response from the FMA was the donation of face masks N95 to the office of the Vice President of the Philippines on March 24, 2020, to protect healthcare professionals.
Here are other initiatives:
– Production of 1,740 material protective face masks for the population of the Provinces of Cebu and Mindoro.
– Donation of 40 facial screens for the hospital of the city of Calamba.
– Donation of 50 reusable personal protective equipment for the Hospital of Manila.
– Preparation of 1,570 meals for Healthcare Professionals in Calamba, Mindoro, and Quezon City; for security officers in Manila, Mindoro, and Palawan; for poor families in Manila, Quezon City, Taguig, and Palawan.
– Preparation of 8,276 packages of food for poor families in Pampanga, metropolitan area of Manila, Laguna, Mindoro, Palawan, Cebu, Cavite, and West Negros (provinces in which the 17 FMA communities and VIDES volunteers are present).
– Donation of vouchers to purchase basic products such as food, personal hygiene items, and medicine for 231 poor families in Manila.
– Donation of 113 kilos of assorted vegetables harvested from the FMA garden for poor families in Palawan.
– Cash donations from the FMA and the Past Pupils Federation for the rescue operations of the Office of the Vice President, Caritas-Manila, and AMRSP (Association of Major Superiors of the Religious Congregations of the Philippines).
– Financial assistance to 300 employees of the FMA communities of the Philippines.
Even with the total closure of services and activities, the sisters manage to coordinate with the Educating Communities in a limited way. Mostly, they get in touch via social media. The union in prayer is felt by all the members of the EC: each FMA shares words of encouragement and assures prayers for the respective groups of students, friends, family, alumni, in the Philippines and abroad, to make them feel their presence and solidarity.
Other prayer initiatives with the intention of stopping the spread of Covid-19 are: daily Eucharistic adoration, the Oratio Imperata, or the public prayer to be prayed twice a day proposed by the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines, daily prayers to Mary Help of Christians, and other prayer initiatives from different sectors. Some communities use speakers for the Oratio Imperata and for the prayer of the Rosary, so that neighbors can join in, while others invite people to pray the Rosary online. Other online activities for students and young people, both school and religious, are coordinated by FMA, lay teachers, and young educators.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic has created uncertainty, fear, hunger, disease, and death, there is also an increase in charity and volunteering, which bring some light and hope into the darkness of this time we are going through.