Submitted by the staff at FCJ Learning and Development Center.
The Center was founded by the Sisters FCJ in 2002 near one to the dumpsites in Manila. It offers an integrated community development program to communities in Barangays Bagong Silangan and Payatas, Quezon City, serving more than 750 families.
During 76 days of strict quarantine the FCJ Center had to remain closed. All we were able to do was distribute relief goods to the people every Tuesday; rice, beans, fresh vegetables, milk and small amounts of cash. On 2nd June we re-opened the FCJ Center and it was great to be with the people again.
Of course the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and strict protocols have to be observed to keep everyone safe. Before anyone can enter there is a disinfectant footbath, temperatures are taken by thermoscanner, hands are sanitized and of course everyone has to wear a mask. We are only allowed to have ten people in a room at one time and a distance of at least one meter has to be kept. Plastic screens were erected in the computer room to keep the students apart, and also between the doctor and the patients in the clinic.
Our first priority was to listen to the people. We began with the leaders and met them in small groups to hear their experiences of the long quarantine. It was very moving to hear their stories of fear and financial struggle as well as their amazing ability to adapt and survive. Now, together with the people, we are looking at ways in which we can support them as we all move into a very different and uncertain reality.
Our first priority was to listen to the people… It was very moving to hear their stories of fear and financial struggle as well as their amazing ability to adapt and survive. Now, together with the people, we are looking at ways in which we can support them as we all move into a very different and uncertain reality.
Many families have lost their livelihood, the future schooling of children and college students is not at all clear. Some people have found the burden of the past months very heavy and are in need of counselling. Some very sick people need medical assistance.
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Our focus at the moment is to work with the people to set up small, simple businesses that will enable them to generate sustainable income for their families. The government has announced that there will be no face to face schooling. This is particularly challenging for the poorest families and the FCJ Center is trying to help them find a solution. College scholars, too, will study online so we are trying to negotiate a bulk order of laptops for them. As a staff we need to find creative ways of bringing our programs to the people including using social media.
We can only “make the way by walking”. One thing is sure, people, especially the mothers will find a way forward. They are used to hardship, their faith is strong and they do not give up easily. It is to be hoped that the spirit of bayaniha (cooperation and solidarity) that was so evident in the time of lockdown will continue to flourish for the good of all.
Visit FCJ Learning and Development Center on facebook. Watch a video to see their work and involvement in the Bagon Silangan community. Follow the FCJ sisters in the Philippines on facebook @FCJsistersph.