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Our Unity is like a river gently flowing, watering our land with blessings- SME

Creating New Pathways for Justice in the Asia-Pacific Region-
A Personal Reflection

By Sr. Maureen Catabian RGS

Diversity of cultures. Varying contexts and realities. Unique Colonial histories.  3.8 Billion people. This is the face of  Asia and the Pacific.

Photo: From left to right, Srs. Maureen Catabian, Minela Alvarez and Leah Ann Espina. 

Economic Globalisation. Worsening Poverty. Ecological degradation. People on the Move. Trafficked refugees and undocumented migrants for labor and sex. This is the common plight of the poor, marginalized and vulnerable peoples especially women and children of the Asia and Pacific.

The current Global economic crises is the context of the Good Shepherd Mission in this part of the world. This is the same context where the Justice work and journey of the nine Units of the Asia-Pacific takes its shape.

Each Unit / Country actively made Justice a reality in their respective missions. Each one has a unique process of integrating the “justice” perspective in various structures and systems with in their own Units. Some have been long in the struggle – having integrated Justice in every level of structure and system  as in formation, community living , spirituality and ministries. Some have recently began and did it well. While some are still establishing justice efforts until now. Some have combined direct services with advocacy programs to work for systemic change. They have done this on the local, national and international level maximizing use of the United Nations (UN) structure through the Good Shepherd International Justice and Peace (GSIJP) office for policy and legislative advocacy.

A few countries have experienced exclusion and repression from their governments and work for systemic change is a constant and difficult struggle within.

The importance of a common understanding of the Asia and Pacific context and realities as well as identifying challenges and emerging trends and issues cannot be overemphasized. It is crucial to establish this understanding amidst the diversity and complexities of cultures, colonial histories and realities in each country.  From here, we found a common ground on how we must see the challenging issues that are affecting and emerging in the region.

The identification of four priority issues as Migration, Trafficking, Economic justice and Ecological justice have challenged the network to its common analysis as well as its link with the current Global crisis brought  by Neoliberal Globalization. Such Economic system has been peddled in the world as the system of wealth-creation by the mega-rich corporations and governments.

Migration or movement of peoples whether internal or external was seen a means of coping with intensifying poverty, militarization and repression. For sponsors of neoliberal globalization, it was a tool for development-by extracting more profits from impoverished and exploited migrant labor.  The phenomenal rise of “undocumented migrants and refugees” have also become a lucrative business for the global trafficking syndicate and corrupt officials of governments.

In the same thread - governments are committing to implement  or  enforce laws on anti-human trafficking and signing conventions to protect migrants and families- while corporations and governments  also see migration as a tool for development where remittances coming from overseas workers becomes a source of revenue that keep some economies in Asia afloat as it copes with the global economic crises.

Intensifying poverty and plunder of the environment and destruction of the Earth resulting to climate change have indeed made people and communities in Asia as hotspots of vulnerabilities and calamities.

The Good Shepherd congregation in the Asia-Pacific region manage specific  programs and ministries as direct services to victims of forced migration, human trafficking as well as support economic and ecological justice programs to uplift the poor and protect the environment.

As a GS APJP network – we are equally- challenged as well to work for systemic change by launching and supporting advocacies that will transform structures and systems especially those that oppresses and exploits further the vulnerable and marginalized  women, children and families as well as the Earth community.

The presence of GS Programs and ministries in 19 countries in the AP region is seen as an organized and systemic way of providing intervention to victims of injustices.  The skills of networking, communication and organization are seen as necessary to facilitate our responses in a more organized and direct manner.

Common Principles to guide our Common Actions as GS Asia-Pacific Justice and Peace Network

1.    Unity in Diversity

2.    To work for systemic change through challenging and transforming systems and structures

3.    Direct services and interventions to victims of injustices must go hand in hand with advocacies and work for systemic change and vice versa

4.    We work for the poor, marginalized and vulnerable groups and sectors in society.  These are economically -poor women , children and their families, migrants and trafficking victims,  and protecting the Earth community from further plunder and destruction

5.    The current Global Economic Crises resulting from Neoliberal Globalization is seen as a common context  where we do charity and justice in  GS Mission in the Asia-Pacific

6.    To maximize global structures as the UN through the GSIJP office in New York to challenge global structures and work for systemic change.  It cannot be one or the other. It must be a mutual process- from the ground to the global level and from the global level to the ground

7.    We believe in the inherent dignity of  all humans and all beings.  We believe in the goodness of every creature or being. But we also recognize the inherent human weakness and sinfulness of each being. Hence, as we do “good, charity works” , we also transform the “evils of sinfulness” as seen in greed for power and profit that have become global, systemic and structural evils

8.    In transforming structures and systems , we need to cross boundaries, leaving our own comfort zones

9.    We need constant capacity-building by upgrading our skills in organization, communication, networking, advocacy and action as we confront systemic evils through more organized GS responses – whether through “nourishing and caring for the lost sheep” as well as “leading the sheepfold to green pastures and snatching them from wolves!”

Our Good Shepherd Mission is about reconciling individuals, peoples , families and communities. Our mission of reconciliation believes in human dignity and the inherent goodness of all beings. We are also aware of our own sinfulness and weakness and our constant need for God’s mercy.  Thus, we also  commit to work for systemic change by challenging and transforming structures that abuses power and exploits others. We struggle and become aware of our sinfulness. We surrender to God’s Mercy and become Reconciled through healing and wholeness. We become ONE.

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