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My Significant Ministry Experience

Submitted by: rgsphil
On: 29/08/2019


I am Sr. Mary Patricia Nyeinchan, a temporary professed sister from Myanmar. I came to the Philippines last April 10, 2019 to have my one year theology formation and international experience.  This required me to learn English to provide me adequate preparation before the start of the formal school. I underwent integrated English course in the convent for 3 months that included topics on culture, information technology and ecology.  My teacher is            Sr. Mary Natividad Lucero. After 2 months in the English program, my teacher recommended me to have local ministry involvement.  One day a week was allotted for this to provide me valuable experiences as my English lessons progressed on the writing level.

After the orientation given by Sr. Ailyn on the various ministry programsavailable, I asked to be assigned in the Ministry Office.  One of the special programs of Philippines-Japan Province is journeying with women and girls in situations of prostitutions, called GABAYAN. The program includes an advocacy and outreach ministry to women and girls in prostitution.  In collaboration with Saints Peter and Paul parish in Makati City, they provide breakfast meal on Saturdays to the women and girls in the high end red light district near the location of the church. Even though I have been a Good Shepherd Sister for seven years I never had a chance to serve these women and girls. I could say that I learned about them only in theory. Now I had the chance to encounter women and girls in these situations. As a foreigner in the Philippines, I was excited to be with them three hours per week.  I went to the ministry area either with Sr. Ailyn who is the mission development coordinator or with Miss Cora, the outreach worker.

On the first time I joined, we left the convent at 1:00 am in the morning.  Sister Ailyn, Miss Cora and myself went to Makati bringing three big boxes of clothing. There were 5 volunteers waiting when we arrived in the area and there were 200 boxes of breakfast meal ready for distribution.That day, I saw the girls and women working in the bars for the first time in my life.  I sat with them and introduced myself speaking in English. I listened to their sharing with a heavy heart. I wished I could talk to them in their dialects. One of them shared that she only began working there that Friday night. We provided breakfast box and a cup of milk for each of them. We also announced that each of them can take up to three fashionable clothes from the boxes we brought. As I watched them, I had compassion on them. They did not choose clothes for themselves but for their daughters. With the translation from the Sister, I learned that poverty was the main reason for them to becoming prostitutes.  I really felt bad for their situation. They have limited job opportunities due to lack of education.

On the following occasions, I went to the area with Miss Cora.  There were women and girls on the street wearing black mini dresses, others were wearing body-con dresses or cropped tops or low cut tops with different styles of high heeled shoes. They were standing at the corner or on the street showing many sexy poses to attract customers. They beautify themselves with heavy makeup, bright lipstick, artificial eyelashes, and many colorful, attractive, tattoos cover their bodies. They also wear pierced rings on their ears as well as on other parts their face.

Some girls were standing by themselves to get more attention from customers and others were with groups. Some had customers, got into the taxi and went somewhere. There were also younger girls.  I saw them inside the bars dancing on stage to erotic music under the blue spotlight to entertain customers; mostly male, both locals and foreigners. The girls were wearing one-piece clothing.  Customers were drinking expensive drinks and happily watching the dancing girls and ladies.

Listening to them as they take their breakfast, I learned from one woman that she is supporting financially her chronically ill father while another woman needed to send money for the needs and educational expenses of her 3 children.  For them, this is the only way to meet their family’sneeds.  

This ministry experience made me see the reality of the lives of the women and girls in situations of prostitutions.Who among us are constantly aware that when everyone had fallen asleep, there are still people who struggle to earn for their living?  My encounter with these women, including the trans-genders left me thinking about them and reflecting on their situation.  They earn only 5 to 10 dollars per night. In earning that small amount of money they lose their dignity, lose their self-respect and rendered excluded from society and exploited by bar owners and their senior friends who became their pimps.  Given no choice they are pushed to remain in their current situation. They are voiceless, helpless, money-less because of their limited capacities, poor resources and lack of support from the government. Being at the margins put them at greater risk of becoming perpetual victims of abuse and exploitation.

The women were really grateful for our presence and support. They say that the way we relate with them is a sign of love from God.  I believe that our actions to reach out to them make them experience compassion and respect towards themselves. They are persons gifted with dignity.  They are not material goods or purchasable commodity. In the light of this learning, I find this ministry relevant in responding to the needs of women and girls in this situation. At the same time I learned that   I need to educate myself more on the complex global issues and realities affecting women and children and be equipped with skills to be effective in responding to the needs of girls and women in prostitution.