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Uplifting Lives in Bagong Silangan

By Chit Almario

Lay Affiliates of the Good Shepherd with Sr. Marion, Sr. James and SVD priestThe year 2006 was off to a good start when Lay Affiliate Rose Roig managed to get St. Paul University’s Ms Roda Reyes interested in our project in Bagong Silangan resulting in a good meeting in the last week of January with Sr. James Wilson, Rose and Chit Almario representing the Lay Affiliates and Mrs. Rose Malabanan, who as head of the  university’s community extension program, clearly was the person to talk to.  So impressed were they with what had been accomplished so far in the community that Mrs. Malabanan talked about preparing a memorandum of agreement signifying their commitment to a 5-year development program for Bagong Silangan under the aegis of St. Paul University’s Community Extension Program.

What is it about this small community that sprang from a one hectare lot, donated by the Barcelon family to the RGS that caught the attention of St. Paul’s University.

Photo: Nursing students and staff from St. Paul University with Sr. Mary James Wilson RGS

So near, it is to Payatas, once Metro Manila’s dumpsite, this once barren, empty lot has come alive when the RGS and their lay affiliates decided to transform it into a place of hope.

What greets the visitor as he enters the gate is a single story structure that houses a day care center on one side , and the living quarters of a couple of RGS novices on the other and larger side. Part of the property is also home to quite a number of “once upon a time squatters” who have also lately gone into organic farming with their vegetable plots. It is also their pre-school children who were the first pupils of the newly set up day care center. This day care center which started with 30 tots has now mushroomed into 100 to 120 as nearby residents also clamored for their children to be accommodated.

The only way to do this is to have three sessions a day. What the children can look forward to together with their ABCs is a nutritious meal prepared daily by volunteer mothers.

With the signing of the memorandum of agreement between SR. James and Mrs. Malabanan, the headstart program was launched with an oral hygiene activity on February 16 whose proper dental care was demonstrated to the children and toothpaste and toothbrushes were distributed.

Under this program, batches of 10 nursing students who are on their 4th level immerse themselves in the place to attend to the perceived needs of the residents concerning health and well-being. They give talks on health-related  topics to raise the level of awareness of the residents in caring for themselves. Their year-end activity in December 2006 consisted of eye examination coupled with the distribution of free eyeglasses to those needing them.

Mrs. Malabanan revealed that eventually their College of Business and Management majors will also get into the act when they will teach and guide the residents on the rudiments of setting up small businesses. The two staff members of St. Paul’s University who are involved in the headstart program are Ms. Rosette Allan and Ms. Alice Flores with whom lay affiliates coordinate to ensure a seamless partnership in uplifting the lives of Bagong Silangan residents.

From: The Newsletter of the Good Shepherd Lay Affiliates
First Quarter 2007
Philippine Province