September 2011 e-Newsletter
Unravelling Human Knots: A Reflection
Unravelling Human Knots
“Life is full of knots.” “We need others to help us in facing and unravelling the knots of life that we all go through.” These were some of the insights the trainees expressed who took part in the group dynamics exercise called “Human Knot”. I used this activity to introduce the discussion on peer counselling groups which I will facilitate with them the next three months. The reality that knots and bumps are an inevitable part of our human experience is something Jonathan and I resonate with. In the two months since we returned, part of our time has been spent sorting out some of the difficulties our team and the Samaritana community have gone through while we were away for sabbatical leave.
In our attempt to help loosen these knots we set up group as well as individual times with key people in the community. It was something we wished we were not doing, but we knew that to ignore them would have been unloving and disastrous to the community. There were feelings of having been let down, restlessness, disappointment and hurt, and quite honestly we, too, were discouraged and troubled. In the midst of this, we were reminded that Jesus, too, went through disappointment with no less than one of the twelve disciples, Peter, whom he trusted and gave responsibility. This person who seemed to get the answers right and was vocal about his all-out commitment to Jesus, failed to live out what he said, particularly at the hour of Jesus’ suffering. While Scriptures speak of the times Jesus rebuked Peter, it is evident that he relentlessly pursued Peter with his unconditional love. As he was carrying his cross, he turned a look of compassion and sadness to Peter, and after his resurrection, Jesus spoke to him and three times asked Peter if he loved him. Peter was, indeed, a consistent recipient of God’s grace and forgiveness.
As we deal with relational knots, we are invited to offer grace and forgiveness as well. While not minimizing sin and the pain caused by others, we are called to love and forgive, and give others second chances. After all, there is a Peter in all of us. Like Peter, we all have failed God, and in our own peculiar failures and inconsistencies, we, like Peter, never cease to be beneficiaries of God’s abounding grace…a humbling realization that nothing else can unravel human knots but love.
CARING FOR AND EMPOWERING WOMEN
The heavy downpour on August 27 did not keep 300 people - women with their children and families - from seeking medical assistance at Samaritana. Twice a year, a group of medical doctors, dentists and nurses led by Dr. Boying Guerrero offer their services for free to the women we reach out to in the streets and bars, the current and former trainees, as well as their families.
Educational Opportunities: Non-Formal Educational Approach to Training
“The whole experience in Samaritana’s training program has been like being in a school, in fact, a much better experience than I had in the schools I had been to,” says one of the current trainees. A number of the other trainees shared the same sentiment during an assessment of the non-formal approach to Samaritana’s training program which goes into 6-month long training cycles for two years.
Back-to-School Program and Child Sponsorship Program
Aside from the training program, some who have finished high school and are interested to pursue college education are sponsored by some of our faithful donors. At the start of this school year, Vilma Santos, one of the servant leaders, began her college degree in social work hoping one day she will be able to use it in Samaritana. She is the fifth woman who has had the privilege of being supported back to school at the college level. Meanwhile, five trainees are preparing themselves for a high school acceleration examination this October, and 19 children of women are being assisted with their education.
Modular Training at Lilok
Early this year, the servant leaders finished a 10-month long training certificate course in Wholistic Ministry with LILOK, a faith based, non-profit and non-government organization that seeks to serve urban poor leaders, to facilitate their learning, and to empower them toward servant leadership by means of modeling, transformative education and mentoring programs.
Kitchen Management Training
A trainors' training in kitchen management has been set up to equip six selected trainees who exhibit an interest for kitchen work. Our livelihood coordinator mentors them on various aspects like menu-planning, marketing, cooking, food storage and kitchen upkeep. After their training, they will be responsible to train and mentor the other trainees. Those who excel in the training will also be taken in to serve guests at SamBahay Retreat Center, Samaritana’s small retreat facility.
Accessing and Strengthening Social Services
With the assistance of our part-time social worker, and the growing experiences of our servant leaders, we are learning how to access social services such as medical and burial expenses from government and private agencies. We have an updated directory of social services, and an operational manual on how to access social services is being developed in Tagalog. Collaborative dialogue with the women and another group, Center for Community Transformation, will hopefully strengthen the capacities of the women to access resources for their various basic human needs.
A Manual on Life Skills Training
Since its inception, Samaritana focuses on training the women with various life skills using the non-formal, participatory approach. These materials have continuously been developed, improved on and compiled into a manual. Done in Tagalog, the manual is a handy resource material for the women leaders, and we hope to translate the manual into English, print it so it can be shared with interested coalition partners.
NETWORKING AND BUILDING BRIDGES
Livelihood Partnerships: Blessed to Bless Others
For more than a year, Samaritana women have been blessed to have alternative livelihood opportunities by producing Sanctuary Spring handmade cards for Good Paper and jewelry accessories and recycled coffee bags for Work of Your Hand. These groups, based in the US and Canada respectively, market the products that we produce for them. To extend the blessing to others, we purchase natural handmade paper from a coalition partner, YWAM Olongapo. For more information or orders, please check www.goodpaper.com and www.workofyourhand.com.
Building Stronger Partnerships in the US
Jonathan and Thelma Nambu and volunteers Tina Dedace and Denise Abrahall attended the fourth International Christian Conference on Prostitution at the Green Lake Conference Center in Wisconsin from May 22-27. As convenors for the Asian region, the Nambus also participated in meetings of the global leadership team (Lauran Bethel, Cherry Friedmeyer, Toos Heemsherk, Mariliana Morales, Candace Wheeler, Ann Marie Isenring, and Vladimir Ubeivolc). An Asia region core group met over a meal to brainstorm and agree on broad strategic goals together for the next few years. Thelma also co-facilitated a workshop at the conference on contemplative prayer, together with Peggy Giacoletto.
After the conference, the Nambus spent five weeks speaking on behalf of Samaritana to individual supporters and churches (North Shore Baptist Church, Gary United Methodist Church, Good News Bible Church, Alden Union Church, Grace Bible Fellowship International, Holliston Baptist Church, Christ Church of Hamilton, and Barre Evangelical Free Church). It was an enriching blessed time.
In recent weeks, phone calls and email messages were flying between Manila and Angeles City in the Philippines, and Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. A Filipino woman in need had been befriended by partners in Malaysia and then followed up by another partner group in Thailand after she was held in detention there. They contacted Samaritana and our partner in Angeles City and we all shared information and suggestions on how best to assist her with the help of the Philippine embassy in Bangkok. She was eventually released and repatriated to the Philippines, and is safe with her children in the province. She may at a later date seek further support and assistance from Samaritana or from partners in Angeles City. This was a beautiful and successful example of collaboration and partnership across boundaries!
Thanks to the hard work of Samaritan's Purse Canada interns Maria Sumalinog and Jacky Broberg, a new resources page on Samaritana’s website is active and features some articles and papers related to prostitution and trafficking, particularly in the Philippines and Asia.
Cross-Cultural Communication Conversation
Climate differences affect the way people behave. The climate in the Philippines, for instance, allows farmers to plant and harvest crops anytime of the year, while harsh winter seasons in the US force farmers to be more conscientious in taking advantage of the warmer seasons to farm. Hence, Americans tend to be more goal-centered and time-conscious than Filipinos. This was one of the things staff and volunteers learned from the discussion led by Pastor Mac Blanco, visiting friend from Chicago, on cross-cultural communication.
Samaritana recently participated in the launching of “Called to Rescue”, a group that focuses on rescuing children who have been trafficked. A disturbing statistic they provided is that 1 out of 10 children trafficked around the world is a Filipino. Samaritana was also represented in the annual prayer activity sponsored by International Justice Mission (IJM) Manila. IJM has referred trafficked women to Samaritana, and Samaritana recently trained some of their women in card-making.