REFLECTION

By: Erwin Forte
AMA Batch 31
June - October

People have different notions of 'missionaries'. Some thought that these are people who knock on anybody's door to ask for monetary support for their mission while some thought that a missionary is someone who left all material wealth and live in poverty. But one can only define what does being a missionary mean once s/he has become one.

 

It was quite a challenge for me when I answered Ms. Vicky Borres' words of encouragement to be an AMA Volunteer. I had to leave my family who badly needed me, I had to resign to a job that supported my personal and a little of my family needs. I travelled to Iloilo in fuzzy, without much information on the life that I'll be living for a year. As I was travelling to Iloilo, I kept on asking myself the worth of these sacrifices. I was in a dilemma to leave a life which becomes my comfort for many years and be with a community that is totally stranger to me.

 

From the time that I set foot in Iloilo until now, I have experienced so many things, negative or positive, downs and ups, struggles, challenges, achievements, and affirmations. These experiences have molded and introduced me to a life with a joyful mission and I want to call it a reflective or meditative journey.

 

#ACommunityOfPrayer

 

In AMA, prayer has become part of my routine. An activity that struck me most is the prayer partner or warrior. It has touched my heart to know that someone is praying for me every day. To give back, I am also praying for one volunteer. It is just a reminder that we are all journeying in prayer. It is also a blessing to live with the RA sisters because they have been helping me to deepen and practice my faith. At first, attending mass and joining them in their vesper praying was just an obligatory act for me. But then, as time passed by, those acts bring me to a blissful state of my prayer life.

 

A concrete example of AMA Community and Sta. Rita Community as my prayer warriors was when my mom passed away. Prayers and funeral masses helped me to at least accept the fact that mama is not here with us anymore and that she is now with the Lord. Aside from spiritual, they also served as my emotional support during this time when my whole being was totally broken.

 

#ChallengesAccepted

 

Never in my life that I thought even in my dream that I'd be teaching in Antique. First challenge that I experienced is the dialect. But since SRA accepts AMA years before, the learners also know how to adjust to AMA volunteers in terms of communication. A good solution here is the subject that I am teaching, English. So I encouraged all the learners to use English in the class. Aside from class, I was also challenged by the dialect during the Boy Scout Training. The school sent me to attend the training for Troop Leaders. This was participated by different public and some private school teachers. The slides were all in English but the facilitators explained them in their dialect. So, there were times that I got lost in the discussion. Though it was a bit difficult for me especially I had to report to Sr. Elnora all the sessions, it didn't come to my mind to ask the facilitators not to speak in Kinaray-a for my own sake. I should be the one to adjust for them. Luckily, they gave each of us a handbook wherein all the topics that they discussed are there.

 

Also, Sr. Elnora assigned me to be the moderator of Pupil Coordinating Teammode (PCT), the student government body of SRA, and the moderator of Writers' Club. As a moderator of PCT, I was tasked to head the Intramurals during the Foundation Day. During the preparatory activities, Sr. Elnora was attending out-of-town meetings, so I really had to be focused and organized to make everything flow smoothly. Thank God, it did. Also, I had to accompany the learners in Servant Leadership Training in Iloilo and a 2-day Journalism Training in San Jose, Antique.

 

I know that in the next months, there will be more challenges to come, but I know if I will focus on my goal, I can handle them with pride and confidence, and with God's grace, with humility.

 

#BringingJesusToOthers

 

After few months of working as AMA Volunteer teacher in SRA, I asked myself: What's the difference of teaching here and teaching in Manila? This whole experience is like I am teaching in Manila. What's the point of staying away from my loved ones, feeling guilty of having lost my mom without me on her side, and just teaching? Do I really need to enter AMA just to find out that my mission is teaching? I know this since I enrolled in the education program of my school.

 

Then, Sr. Rosa talked with us. She asked us to welcome the learners as they enter the gate of the school. In one seminar, the speaker asked us to be Jesus-like to our learners and as we teach, our learners should see Jesus in us and we see Jesus in them. So, if we see Jesus in them, we will love them no matter what. As I was listening to the speaker, my mind is telling me that it is just an easy task to do. But when I entered a class with diverse backgrounds, the children tested even the strand of patience that I have with them, the children who don't seem to care for me, the children who do nothing to class but disturb their classmates and create noise. Where is Jesus in them? With these kinds of children, how can I become Jesus to them?

 

These instances helped me realize that teaching is not my mission here. It is bringing Jesus to the community, letting then feel Jesus through me, and loving them as I love Jesus.

 

As I welcome them in the gate of school, I also welcome them in my life and in my heart. In the class, it is not only my mission to finish the lesson for the day but also to let them feel Jesus in our discussions. As I teach, I should not only love those who excel in my class, but also the naughtiest in the class because Jesus is in them.

 

Fr. Didoy, the facilitator in SRA Faculty and Staff retreat, told us that the people we meet are created by God to let us feel His presence and love and to let us glorify His name.

 

 

For the coming months, I will continue to do my mission with joy in my heart.

Life in Madrangca

By: Maximo Escribano, Julie Gella, Alix de Leffe and Eleanor Margetts

There in Madrangca, where the lizards are white,
Aswangs roam around, and the mosquitoes bite.
Here, our community finds a good place to stay,
At the table we eat, on the beach we play.

Even when Max forgets his wallet and phone,
We know that someone will always be home.
In the evening we talk; in the nights we pray,
Here is a place we are happy to stay.

Sometimes the spiders will give us a fright,
And it's difficult to catch a trike at night.
Even without the loud sounds of the band,
Or languages are still difficult to understand.
Ano? Beth? Quoi? Que?

It's a pleasure to live in the place of Miss Ceci,
Even if we leave the house a bit messy. (gamay lang)
It's fun to sit and watch the dogs play,
And have someone to listen, no matter what we say.
Thanks to the kindness and good food of Dadang,
We have great bonds with the rest of the gang.

As long as we keep doing our tasks right on time,
Everything will surely be just fine.
If we just remember to turn off the light,
Our volunteer year will be alright!


AMAzing Midyear Experience!

AMA Batch 30 Midyear Evaluation Activity

November 3-9, 2014

 

Everybody was looking forward to this moment of gathering together and meeting batch mates for the first time. After some months in the mission area, the volunteers came together:

    1. To evaluate and reflect on their experiences of the first semester, as well as formulate plans to resolve problems concerning self, community, work and prayer life encountered during the first semester.
    2. To deepen their understanding of social issues and develop initiatives in their host communities.
    3. To appreciate the presence and support of God as they go through their volunteer experience.
    4. To spend time for rest and recreation.

 

On October 31, Daryl, from Leon, Iloilo, assigned in Kibangay, Bukidnon traveled to Cagayan de Oro from Kibangay, a village, up in the mountains of Lantapan town where he volunteers as a teacher in English at Xavier de Kibanagay High School. He met with Spencer, (an alumnus who was part of Batches 27-Antique and 28,29-UK) in Cagayan de Oro and they sailed to Iloilo. Terek of France (Batch 22), Isabel (from Mexico assigned in St. Martin’s School in Baguio) and Urbano (from Iloilo assigned in L’Arche Cainta, Rizal) flew in from Manila to Iloilo. Volunteers from Batad, Iloilo (Mike of Iloilo and Raven of Bukidnon), Iloilo City (Krystal, Nel of Bukidnon, Aica of Iloilo, Rachel of USA and Neal of UK), San Joaquin, Iloilo (Summer and Patch of Samar, Glezel of Bukidnon, Elvie of Kalinga) went to San Jose, Antique and met the other volunteers assigned there (Aly from Bukidnon, Daina from Iloilo, Mathilde, Geraldine and Ysaline from Belgium). These are the volunteers of Batch 30 who come from different cultures and yet having one mission as an AMA Volunteer - to love and to serve.

 

Everybody was excited to meet everyone in the morning of November 3 as they gathered in CasAMAdrangca, San Jose and went to San Pedro where the Midyear Sessions were held at the St. John Mary Vianney Formation Center run by the sisters of the Orantes of Assumption. The group was joyfully welcomed by Sr. Claire and Sr. Levine, two Congolese sisters who stay at the center. The sessions were held at the Formation Center and for the daily masses, the volunteers went to the St. Peter Seminary Chapel which was in the same compound. The sessions were times of looking back and looking forward, listening to each other’s stories, bonding with each other and enjoying the gifts of nature at the seminary grounds. It was a time of being grateful of one’s journey where God works lovingly in each one’s life. The AMA Staff, Ms. Gamay Solis and Ms. Ceci Pefianco together with AMA Alumni, Spencer Rosabal and Terek Ferahtia were present to facilitate and help out in the sessions.

 

On November 7, after an early breakfast, the AMA’s left for Kalibo, Aklan where they would be spending two days to gather more meaningful experiences. When they arrived in Kalibo after three and a half hours , they visited the Cathedral and the Museo it Akean. Then, they proceeded to the Municipal Hall to meet Acting Mayor Madeline Ang-Regalado (mother of Beverlyn Regalado-Bastareche, Batch 8). Bevs and Vice-Mayor Regalado were hosts for the lunch with the children with special needs and their families at the Stimulation and Therapeutic Activity Center (STAC) Kalibo. Everybody enjoyed the lunch because there were plenty of games for everyone. Stomachs and hearts were filled after the interaction which everyone thought was memorable. In the afternoon, the group went to Sampaguita Gardens, famous for its Precious Moments creations by Samuel Butcher and Bakhawan Eco-Park. The Eco-Park is a 260-hectare manmade mangrove forest. There are 35 species of mangroves in the Philippines and 20 species are in Bakhawan Eco-Park. The group walked through the 1.1 kilometer wooden trail which led to the sea. The walk was reenergizing and being in the middle of the forest was a fitting end to a hot day. For dinner at RML Kamayan, Vicky Borres, AMA Treasurer joined the volunteers. She came to attend the activities of the next day. At 9pm, the group arrived in the dormitory of Aklan Training Institute at the Aklan State University Banga Campus. It was indeed a long day but everyone enjoyed the tour.

 

The next day, each one was excited to go to another town, Balete. A year ago that day, Typhoon Yolanda devastated villages and towns in the Visayas. This day was to remember not the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda but the gifts that it had brought to the lives of the people. The AMA’s went to Barangay Calizo to facilitate the program of the day which was to turn over 37 fishing boats to fisherfolks of Brgy Fulgencio, Calizo and Aranas. These fishing boats were donated through the Marian Program of the Assisi Development Foundation. The AMA’s had a group sharing with the fisherfolks and their families. After the group sharing was a community prayer. Fr. Jenstor Sioco blessed the fishing boats which were all lined up at the riverbank. Ms. Viel Aquino-Dee and Ms. Vicky Borres of Assisi Development Foundation were present for the turnover rites. The people were happy that no less than the sister of President Benigno Simeon Aquino was present during the event.

All the ten barangay captains, the council members, a provincial board member, Vice-Governor Billie Calizo-Quimpo were present. Mayor Bobby Calizo Jr. sponsored the lunch. After lunch, some of the AMA’s rode the boats down the river. One boat with five volunteers came down and they all returned to the village wet. What an adventure! After Barangay Calizo, the Vice-Governor invited the group to a showcase of Aklan products at Kabuhian Center. There was a group of women weavers of piña cloth. They showed finished products of pineapple fibers with intricate hand-woven designs. Aklan is famous for its piña cloth where every fiber is finer than a strand of hair. Another group was weaving nito into fruit trays and storage chests. They were beautiful creations which demonstrated Filipino ingenuity.

 

The group then went back to the dormitory to get ready for another long journey back to San Jose for an important part of the Midyear Activity, the Cultural Night. Although tired from the journey, the volunteers still managed to give their community presentation which lasted until almost midnight. Everyone was tired but still stayed up late to be with each other on the last night. The theme for the night was: “Many Cultures, One Mission”.

 

The days went by fast but each one was a different person after the Midyear Activity. Each volunteer went home with more friends, more experiences, more places visited, more insights, more energy to face the challenges of the mission. Go AMA Go!

Profile of AMA Receiving Communities

Currently, AMA has 22 volunteers for Batch 31 who are placed in different parts of the Philippines, and two (2) are volunteering in the United Kingdom.



PROFILE OF AMA RECEIVING COMMUNITIES
Batch 31 (2015)

            Maria Assumpta Seminary, Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija
By God’s grace and though the generosity of its benefactors, here and abroad, the Seminary has evolved into a center of quality Secondary Education, Philosophical Studies and Formation not only for the Diocese of Cabanatuan but also for the other dioceses such as San Jose, Malolos, Bayombong, Tarlac, Iba and the Prelature of Infanta, Quezon, Since 1967, its first year of graduation, it has continually been producing priests who serve the church either as Parish Priests or School Administrators of the Diocese of Cabanatuan. It has also produced God fearing and successful men in their own fields.

            Jubilee Learning Center, Mandaluyong City
Jubilee Learning Center is a social development project of Assumption College started by Sr. Gertrude, r.a. It has 42 Kinder and Prep scholars coming from the depressed areas. Currently, the educative program includes feeding the children one meal a day under the HAIN program. 

 

     Bahay Maria Children’s Center, Makati City
Bahay Maria is a home to 42 children aged 0-24.  These children are from families who cannot afford to take care of their children. Some of them are foundlings or neglected by families.  In Bahay Maria, they are given shelter and sent to school.


Joey Velasco Foundation, Fairview, Quezon City
Joey Velasco as a painter and sculptor is one of the great social artists our country has ever produced. He captured the heart of our nation when, in 2005, he showed to the public his famous painting – “Hapag ng Pag-asa” – which depicts the Last Supper with Jesus Christ and 12 street children instead of the disciples. He was a “heartist of hope”, an artist who painted from his heart to give hope to hopeless – particularly, the street children in our society.

At present, one of the priorities of Joey Velasco Foundation  (JVF) is to give support to the Hapag Kids and their families as well as other families of  Hapag Village in Amparo, Caloocan City. JVF create livelihood projects for them, give training to enhance their skills and other activities for the value formation of the community. Also, the Foundation is closely monitoring the education of the children and their performances in school.(joeyvelascofoundation.org)

Welcome Home Foundation, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental
The Welcome Home Foundation, Inc. (WHFI) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization serving the deaf people of the Philippines. They are on the forefront of education during the national transition to Filipino Sign Language (FSL); not only helping the deaf become skilled workers and students, but also assisting in the development of a stronger community and culture that the Filipino deaf can call their own. 

Batad Central School, Batad, Iloilo
Batad is a fifth class municipality in the province of Iloilo which was badly damaged by the Super typhoon Yolanda.  The elementary school was rebuilt through the efforts of companies who contributed materials and the community who shared their labor and time.  The school has more than a thousand students.  It has special education classes, as well as, alternative learning system classes.

Assumption Socio-Educational Center (ASEC), Iloilo City
Assumption Socio-Educational Center (ASEC) is located in Bo. Obrero or Workingman's Village. Barrio Obrero is a 26-hectare government land reclaimed from swamps and from the sea where the hundreds of families left homeless by the great fire of 1951 in Iloilo City were relocated.

Assumption Socio-Educational Center (ASEC) was established by the Auxiliary Missionaries of the Assumption, Inc. (AMA, Inc.) in 1967 by a dedicated group of Assumption-Iloilo graduates and friends who came to bring food, clothing, and shelter to the fire victims.

ASEC offers a community-oriented Christian education to equip the child with knowledge, attitude,and skills necessary for him/her to respond to the call of his/her community.

It takes a village to raise a child. In Bo. Obrero, the "village", included the children, the families and neighbors, ASEC, the Assumption sisters, donors and friends, and a dedicated group of men and women called AMA. Inc.  The average enrollment per year is 355 elementary students.  The tuition fees are subsidized by sponsors. Only a small part of the education costs  are paid by the students.

Assumption School Passi, Passi City, Iloilo
The school is an elementary and high school founded in 1969 by the Religious of the Assumption Sisters. Aside from running a school, the Sisters also helped in the Parish activities: teaching catechism in the Public Elementary and High Schools, home visitations, visits to the barrios, animation of the liturgy, and youth development programs. Until 1990, they were in charge of the formation of Catechists.  It has an average enrolment of 390 students.

Assumption - Passi is the first Assumption school in the Philippines managed by an Administrative Team chosen from the lay faculty. This is the result of Assumption's thrust: the participation and empowerment of the lay collaborators.

Philippine Blind Union, Jaro, Iloilo City
The Philippine Blind Union is a non-stock, non-profit organization in the city and province of Iloilo. It was established with the purpose of motivating and uplifting the lives of its visually-impaired members. They aspire to eliminate prejudice, promote belief in the proven abilities of blind and low vision persons; and achieve full participation and equality in society. The organization assists the blind in achieving self-reliance through massage services and have been trained under the supervision of the city social welfare development office and the person with disability affairs office.

Ang Dios Gugma Community, Iloilo City
Ang Dios Gugma Community began in 1984 by Bro. Edwin Dualo.  He started the community after his own search for the meaning of his life.  He found deep joy in the Word of God and wanted to share this with others through prayer group meetings and healing.  The growth of the community continued since then as the ministry expanded in their evangelization through radio and television.  On April 6, 2006, a preparatory School Known as the “Ang Dios Gugma catholic School, Inc.” was created which offered Nursery and Kindergarten classes” The pupils were mostly pre-school children of families living in Calapran and Calumpang, Arevalo, Iloilo City.

In 2010, the “Ang Dios Gugma Catholic Ministries Foundation, Inc.” was formed. The ADG foundation aimed to develop both the spiritual and physical well-being of individuals by proclaiming the Gospel of God and witnessing the Love of Jesus Christ through the tri-media evangelization in order to inculcate the true Catholic Faith and Christian values to people of all nations and to support, finance and sponsor the education of the poorest of the poor members of society who will be called “Scholars of Hope”.

Sta. Rita Academy, Sibalom, Antique
SRA is an elementary school for boys and girls managed by the Sisters of the Religious of the Assumption in Sibalom, Antique. This school of more or less 250 pupils is located in the center of the town, and provides Catholic education inspired by the teachings of St. Marie Eugenie of Jesus to students residing in Sibalom and neighboring towns.

The Antique Federation of Non-Government Organizations (AFON), Inc. San Jose, Antique
The Antique Federation of Non-Government Organizations (AFON), Inc. is an innovative, globally competitive federation of NGOs (Non-government organizations) towards community-led development. Its mission is to enhance the development roles and capacities of NGOs and community institutions.

It aims to contribute to more secure and empowered family farmer and micro-entrepreneur sectors in the Philippines. It assists tricycle operators and drivers associations, jeepney operators and drivers' associations, and market vendors associations, through the Local Economic Development program funded by TRIAS. It is also currently conducting a project on Strengthening Social Accountability Mechanisms in Local Governance in Antique, funded by the European Union.

Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office, San Jose, Antique
In the Local Government of San Jose, the MENRO has projects in the barangays which assists on Environmental Education Program, greening program and Sectoral Organization building for Bottom-up-Budgeting Projects.


Kids Kabin

Kids Kabin is an arts centre in Church Walk Shopping Centre in Walker , Newcastle upon Tyne. Kids Kabin has a wide range of creative arts, performing arts and crafts facilities for the use of local young people and the community and has the following projects:

1. Daily after school activities in our purpose built ‘workshops’, which include pottery, woodwork, art, cookery, fabric work, glasswork, music, IT and bicycle repairs
2. A holiday programme which includes, camping trips, bike rides and outings
3. Street activities run from a fleet of bicycle trailers including a mobile kitchen and a mobile pottery workshop.
4. Training for young volunteers (12-16 year olds) to run the creative activities for the younger members
5. Regular project with schools to raise awareness about Kids Kabin, enhance the curriculum and provide decorations for the schools

It is a core aim of Kids Kabin to make activities accessible to all young people and especially to young people most at risk of social exclusion. To achieve this Kids Kabin provides a welcoming and creative environment in which we encourage an atmosphere of mutual respect Focus attention on positive behaviour and de-personalise anti-social behavior.

Pendower Estate (West End of Newcastle off Westgate Rd)
Pendower Good Neighbour Project is a small community neighbourhood project working with residents on the Pendower estate in Newcastle’s West End.

There are 4 main areas of work the project covers supporting improvement to housing and environment through the residents association and community play area group, encouraging the development of children and young people through after-school and holiday activities, building the capacity of residents and improving quality of life and support for pensioners to remain in the community.

The project runs a gardening and odd job and decorating scheme for pensioners and organises monthly social outings or activities.

Volunteers are sought for the following roles :

- assisting with children’s activities. Pendower run after-school activities at the centre for various age groups;
- Mon 4.30-5.30pm for children with special needs or behavioural problems
- Tues 4.30pm-5.30pm for children aged 10-14
- Weds 4pm-5pm for children aged 6-9 years
- Thurs 4.30pm-5.30pm football club/6.00pm-7.30pm older girls group aged 15+

They also have a monthly programme of activities which can include cooking, craft, IT, sport, swimming, games, gardening and environmental activities.

 

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