The Blessed Rosalie Rendu Community of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, composed of three Sisters arrived in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in January 2019, upon the request of Bishop Rolando C. Santos, CM, DD to collaborate with the Diocese in its mission of evangelization through the education ministry (Catholic Agency Schools) particularly Sacred Heart Secondary School, Hagita and St. Paul Pastoral Center.
After two years of service in both institutions, the Sisters have established a rapport with the families living in poor conditions in surrounding villages. The DC Community experienced the generosity of these families who brought garden products in exchange for rice and fish. On Community feasts, the Sisters offered supplemental food for children.
However, it has been observed that during rainy seasons, family members cannot till the land and in order to put something on the table, they have recourse to begging for food especially rice. This has become a pattern which was exacerbated during the COVID-19 lockdown.
As an alternative to this begging system, the Daughters decided to use a more sustainable method: LEARN-WORK. Weekly food supply is provided as an incentive for people, especially mothers, to come together to study, learn some skills and do some common work. The approach for this development is integral evangelization. The Project began with 25 families living in poverty, having five children and who are subsistent farmers. Activities include spiritual formation, human formation, education in the faith, and service (training for responsible parenthood, care for our common home, campaign against domestic violence and child protection policy).
2022, its third year of implementation and reaping the visible fruits of the Project, the Community of Sisters are grateful to God for this golden opportunity of serving Him in their sisters and brothers in PNG. Gratitude is also extended to foreign agencies like the International Project Services (IPS) of the Daughters of Charity and BVM Hunger Fund Project of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The beneficiaries say that the Learn-Work Program has helped their families in many ways for they have learned more about the Catholic faith and the meaning of what they believe in and so are encouraged to give witness to this faith. One mother is now offering fruits like ripe papaya, bananas and young coconut to the Sisters whenever she goes to sell fruits in the market in gratitude for the many blessings received by her family. Vangie, a beneficiary, expressed gratitude with these words: “Thank you for this Learn-Work Program where we continue to grow in the spiritual, economic, social aspects of our lives; we received material goods, prayed together, and related well with others in the few hours of services we rendered. I have become more grateful to God for His blessings in life. God bless us all.”
Sister Roberta SIMBAJON, DC