PHILIPPINES: Don Bosco Youth Center and St. John Bosco Parish provide support to half a million families during COVID-19 relief efforts
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries and volunteers with Don Bosco Center and the St. John Bosco Parish in Tondo, Philippines, have been working to ensure that families in the region have the food and support they need during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. To date, they have supported half a million families including those of parishioners and from other churches, youth, and technical education students.
Tondo makes up 38 percent of the total population of Manila and has the poorest of the poor living in the district. The homes in Tondo Barangay 115 are located in alleys that zig-zag haphazardly, allowing diseases to spread easily. Families in this area have been most impacted by the lockdown because they are sidewalk vendors or live on the street.
Salesian missionaries had assistance in helping the poor. Caritas Manila provided 26 million pesos worth of gift checks that Salesians evenly distributed to each family regardless of religion, race and stability. Private individuals who wanted to remain anonymous shared their resources with the sole purpose of assisting those who are most vulnerable. They shared sacks of rice, diapers, milk, canned goods, frozen meats, fresh vegetables and bottled water. These items were distributed to the 17 Barangays served by St. John Bosco Parish.
“Salesian missionaries are grateful for the donors and volunteers who helped make these relief efforts possible,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Volunteers worked to sort, pack and distribute goods to these families. We are so fortunate to have their support during this time.”
Salesians have also had to change how they provide spiritual support. Thanks to the advancement of technology, the parish and the Salesian community have reached people through Facebook live streaming of the daily rosary, Eucharistic Adoration and Sunday Masses.
More than one-quarter of the population of the Philippines lives in poverty, according to UNICEF. Poverty is most severe and widespread in rural areas where 80 percent of the population—close to 88 million people—make their home. The poorest Filipinos are indigenous populations, small-scale farmers who cultivate land received through agrarian reform, landless workers and fishermen. In addition, poverty rates are higher for women than men.
Illiteracy and high levels of unemployment contribute to the elevated poverty rate. With more than 11 million out-of-school youth in the country and dropout rates doubling as children reach secondary school, access to education becomes a critical step in breaking the cycle of poverty. Throughout the Philippines, Salesian missionaries offer a variety of educational and social development programs for youth, many with an emphasis on recreation and sports activities. The goal is to provide the opportunities necessary to gain an education and skills training to break the cycle of poverty and retain long-term employment.
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Salesian Missions – Philippines
UNICEF – Philippines