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An Experience with the FCJ Sisters in Payatas          (by Sarah Rose)

The dumpsite in Payatas.In December 2008 and January 2009 I lived with the FCJs in Manila, volunteering with them in their ministries. I spent time in Bagong Silangan tutoring children of the village, particularly those with disabilities.

What struck me most was the overwhelming courage of those around me, courage of both the FCJs and of those living and working at Payatas.

One morning I attended a women’s meeting.  One by one the women stood up and spoke of challenges that they faced – loneliness, poverty and uncertainty. Each did so with such passion and heart that each cried as they spoke. But what came from the meeting was not self-pity, but hope. Trust that, together, these women could continue on with the support of each other. Such courage! Such faith!

Physical poverty is a horrible reality in Manila. My time working at Payatas showed me that ‘community’ is far more important than physical possessions. The poor people of Payatas will, in my mind, remain the richest people I have ever met, in the sense that they have copious amounts of love, support, connections and dignity. In turn, and with nothing else than each other, the FCJ sisters will remain instruments of the Spirit, so graciously and capably fostering ‘community’ in these people.

‘Sarah Rose is a third year nursing student at Australian Catholic University.

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