By SOCCOM FIN
Tondo, Manila, Philippines, 5 May 2020 -- Tondo, the heart of the metropolis and known as the most populous district in the city of Manila making up 38.0 percent of the total population of the city (https://psa.gov.ph/) and without a doubt also the abode of the poorest of the poor. Take for example the homes of Tondo Brgy. 115 interspersed among little alleys that zig zag haphazardly, causing diseases and sickness to spread easily. Keeping this data in mind, they are the ones who are most affected by this Luzon lockdown, for most of them, if not all, are contractual workers, sidewalk vendors, street dwellers and the like. When the nation practically stopped, their lives became endangered as well, for they do not know where to catch the money that can brook their families’ daily needs to live.
“There is always reason to hope,” the priest and author Henri Nouwen wrote, “even when your eyes are filled with tears.” (You Are the Beloved: Daily Meditations for Spiritual Living, p.375)
Don Bosco Youth Center-Tondo with its 50 years of presence in the midst of these poor, carrying its Salesian charismatic identity, looked at this situation with hope. The Salesian Family of DBYC-Tondo cannot be blinded and deafened of the necessities of the poor to survive day after day during Enhance Community Quarantine (ECQ). God’s generosity which cannot be outdone have reached these underprivileged people through various ecclesial, public and private institutions, foundations and individuals. The Salesians and lay volunteers tirelessly made an effort to partner with these benefactors to bring food to the table of each poor family, who are struggling since the start of the ECQ.
One of them that is worth mentioning is Caritas Manila who provided financial assistance to families who are in dire need. Through the generosity of their partners from different private companies, Caritas Manila, extended their support to the poorest among the people under the care of the Salesians, amounting to 26 million worth of gift cheques that were evenly distributed to each of the family regardless of religion, race and stability.
Private individuals who desired to remain anonymous, over flowingly shared their resources with a sole purpose of assisting those who are most vulnerable during this time of the world CoViD-19 pandemic, these are not just the economically poor but also our medical and security front liners. They shared numerous sacks of rice, useful stuff like diapers, milk, canned goods, frozen meats, fresh vegetables and bottled waters. All these were distributed to the 17 Barangays under the Parish of St. John Bosco and nearby barangays who are also in need of help. Especially to Brgy. 105, where hundreds of houses turned into ash last April 19, 2020
Daily repacking, assessing and distributing these goods manifests the family spirit among the members of the Salesian Family. To this very moment we are indebted to these silent and unknown heroes and saints who contributed financially, physically and spiritually for the benefit of these people are remarkably and undoubtedly signs of God’s love and presence among us.
Above from the physical help that the Salesian setting is providing for the people, even in our empty church, we cannot but most of all take care of their souls and their spiritual well-being. The fact that the people are not at church doesn’t keep them from being the church. Thanks to the advancement of technology, the masses and prayers sponsored by the parish and the Salesian community, have reached their homes through Facebook live streaming of the daily rosary, Eucharistic Adoration and Sunday Masses.
To sum it up, we have estimated to have reached half a million families of our parishioners and from other parishes, our youth and our TVET trainees. With the help of benefactors and hundreds civil and church volunteers, this unimaginable vast outreach of Don Bosco Tondo is indeed about Grace.
At the end of the day our hearts echoed same with Peter Wehner who have said “I feel like I’m handing out life.