Ministry to the Poor through the works of the Missionaries of Mary Mother of the Poor
Feeding Program in Iling
Indeed, when man prays, God works! Needless to say, the material poverty of the island inhabitants has led the children to malnutrition and undernutrition. The MMMP, in partnership with Kiwanis Foundation Incorporated is feeding the whole island’s children twice a week. The parents, barangay officials and teachers are tapped to help facilitate the implementation of the program. The implementation of the program is spearheaded by the MMMP seminarians based in Iling island.
The following communities and barangays are being fed twice a week:
Ilin Proper , Ambulong Island, Labangan, Ansiray, Catayongan, Pawican, Tibago, Pitogo, Natandol and Manga
Support to Informal Settlers
This support to informal settlers’ children commenced back in 2010 with the children along West Avenue, Quezon City outside the CBC- run radio station. Fr. Fernando recalled, it started with a handful of kids when he invited them to join his meal in a fast food (Andok’s Chicken) after his regular Radio Veritas “Healing Grace with Fr. Fernando Suarez” Program one Sunday evening. The subsequent Sundays the number of kids grew. “It was chaotic at first. But I realized it’s a chance for me to gather and organize them. Why not feed them all? At first I paid for all they have consumed. Now, it is done in partnership with Andok’s Litsong Manok”.
Soon afterwards, the assistance expanded to include their weekly school allowance. To date, the ministry is giving weekly allowance to around a hundred of these children in elementary and high school. Furthermore, we also give their family a chance to have outing/bonding and excursion twice a year in Batangas where they enjoy the sea waters and socialize with other informal settlers.
Youth Evangelization Services (YES)
The youth has a particular place in the heart of Fr. Fernando. He firmly believes that they cannot just be set aside if we are sincere about evangelization and mission.
His one-week personal retreat last summer of 2012 finally gave birth to the Youth Evangelization Services. Fr. Fernando believes in the capacity of the youth and their energy. The youth can “evangelize their fellow youth” because they can easily connect with one another given that they speak the same ‘language’. The youth has an enormous energy that has to be tapped lest they will be directed to other things not productive. Ministering to the youth is an investment. It does bear fruit easily but it is part of the long-range program.
Sometime in May 2012, Fr. Fernando, after having put into writing his vision for the youth, gathered few high school graduates from the remotest mission area of Iling and Sta. Teresa in Mindoro. They underwent series of formation sessions and training, aside from immersion into the Church activities in local chapels.
Their training and formation consists of self-awareness sessions, catechism classes, capability building for presentations. After around three months of intensive formation, the group started to have pilot presentations in high school classes of Sta. Teresa in Mindoro. After enough and extensive evaluation of their first engagements, the group, headed by two MMMP seminarians, decided they are ready to push ahead and expand.
In the span of around twenty (20) months, the YES movement has ministered to almost all public schools of Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, Baybay City in Leyte and Semirara Island in Antique counting approximately 50,000 students. The evangelization service is done through recollection, sharing of religious experience, creative catechism. This is usually a week-long program. With due coordination and courtesy to the Bishops and local church and school authorities, the YES has created avenues for religious experience and evangelization to these public school students. This attempts to fill the lacuna of religious formation among the public high schools. Most of them have this as their first recollection experience.
Currently, the group is headed by an MMMP seminarian together with a volunteer nun. We have more than 25 members. The group is mobilizing now to create local chapters in schools they have already administered.
Forming the youth is an investment. Hand in hand with the formation of community and building of the Church is the formation of its future leaders. MMMP Scholarship program is part of this. To balance their technical and academic formation, the MMMP gives regular formation like Catechism, recollection and pastoral and community exposures.
Presently, the MMMP Scholarship Program is sending more than fifty (50) students to different colleges in San Jose Mindoro and Manila. In San Jose we are sending them at Divine Word College of San Jose and Occidental Mindoro State College. The MMMP is taking care of their tuition fees. In Manila we are sending them to Central Colleges of the Philippines, Cavite State University, and National College of Science and Technology.
In Batangas area, we have 12 scholars in different levels: two (2) in High School, nine (9) in College, and one (1) Seminarian.
The MMMP is taking care of their full tuition fees.
Scholars at the National College of Science and Technology (NCST)
When invited to say Mass at the National College of Science and Technology, Fr. Fernando shared about the plight of the people of Iling. Thence, the institution offered a program to help them get employed.
NCST offered exams to around fifty (50) unemployed high school graduates from Iling with ages ranging between 18 and 24. Thirty five (35) of them passed the preliminary exams, 20 men, 15 women, all of whom are single. (From Iling proper: 24 men and women; From Alfonso, Tagaytay: 6 men; from Labangan island in Iling: 5 women.)
From there they are offered an intensive ladderized vocational/technical program for three months. The NCST connects with companies and ask about available jobs. Then the NCST will be the one to train these candidates. After three months of training, they will already be employed by the company if satisfied by their performance during the training program.
The MMMP is the one helping these applicants financially. We take care of their clothing expenses, including uniform, dental check-ups, medical examinations, transportation expenses, food and lodging expenses. The MMMP takes care of these expenses until such time that their work becomes stable.
After their contract with the company ends, they can choose to undergo another training. Thus, it is ladderized in this sense. Another option is re-application to the same job depending on their performance.
As initial feedback from the NCST trainers, Iling applicants are excelling and have been exhibiting exemplary performance. One thing is certain, though, the MMMP has not only taught them to earn a living. Rather, we are offering them an opportunity to live, with dignity.
Livelihood Assistance in Iling
The shores of Iling and Mabulong are very conducive for seaweeds farming. Much as the inhabitants want to, they have no resources.
The MMMP identified twenty families as beneficiaries. In Iling proper, we have lent twelve thousand pesos (Php12,000) as initial capital for each of these twenty families as initial capital to start the seaweeds farming. In Ambulong island we have twelve families as beneficiaries.
An MMMP seminarian is taking charge of the program.
As in other islands, Bamboo trees grow abundantly in Iling island. Inhabitants have benefited from them for their various uses. Houses are generally made up of bamboo trees, furnitures and other handicrafts.
Bamboo-stick/barbecue-stick making has turned into living when the MMMP through the initiative of Fr. Fernando acted as bridge for their market. MMMP connects the Ilingueños to stores in Manila using these bamboo sticks.
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Thank you for your support for Mary Mother of the Poor Foundation (MMP). Because of your financial donation and generosity, you have planted the seeds that will enable MMP to grow and help different communities by providing much needed help to our less fortunate brothers and sisters. Thank you for answering the call to contribute to God's work and hand in hand, we can make this world a better place.