Sharing and multiplication
"Sharing what each one of us are gifted with allows for the multiplication of blessings in the lives of people around us in our homes and communities."
In a recent Friday fellowship in Samaritana, I led the weekly devotion using the story of the feeding of the five thousand. I started by asking the group if they thought it was possible for all of us to have a taste of a small packet of Magic Flakes that contained four pieces of salted crackers. As the packet was passed around, each person carefully snapped off a small piece until the last tiny bit and a few crumbs landed in my hand. I could see the delight in each one’s eyes for having been able to successfully share and stretch the few crackers among the 25 of us in the room. We may not have been able to have as much as the crowd ate in the Gospel story, but like them we tasted in that moment the wonder and fullness of what sharing can do. Someone even said how delicious the small piece of cracker she ate was! After the exercise, we interacted together around how we all have something to offer to one another, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. Sharing what each one of us are gifted with allows for the multiplication of blessings in the lives of people around us in our homes and communities.
It is in the spirit of sharing that Kaakbay Coalition of Aftercare Practitioners was formed. Last January we launched the coalition in a conference attended by 83 participants representing 24 organizations. Kaakbay is a Pilipino word for putting one’s arm around another’s shoulders. Envisioning ourselves as journeying together towards fullness of life, Kaakbay is a faith-based coalition working collaboratively towards seeing survivors of sexual exploitation becoming whole, restored and reintegrated into society by enhancing aftercare services, sharing resources, and building capacities. For instance, some of us are referring women to one another depending on the particular needs of each woman, and resources of each group. Samaritana has also shared livelihood opportunities to other groups, and assisted one partner group in its outreach activities for a few months. Kaakbay’s coordinating council, comprised of 11 members from 6 organizations, is bursting with enthusiasm and commitment as we meet and brainstorm together on how we can enrich the spirit of sharing with other kindred-hearted organizations beyond Metro-Manila to the rest of the country.
In feeding the five thousand, Jesus did not do it alone but he engaged everyone to look for food, distribute it, and gather what was left. Moved by compassion upon seeing the crowd, he tossed the question to the disciples on where and how to feed them. After some hesitation, they found food available...five loaves and two fish that came from a small boy who probably brought this for himself and his companions. Within Samaritana, we also believe that the women are best empowered when they themselves are involved in planning and implementing activities. One of the exciting things happening is that the women’s self-help cooperative is finally taking off with a steady pace of growth and is harnessing various capabilities of the members like responsible leadership, economic empowerment, and communal caring. Starting from a consumer’s cooperative they are now venturing into giving out small loans to members.
Another area we are trying to address more intentionally has to do with the men who are either married to or are living with the women who are part of Samaritana’s training program. Aside from inviting them to occasions like Christmas and Valentine parties, Jonathan along with a few male volunteers are spending time with them through home visits and weekly informal gatherings at the community garden of Samaritana. Our prayer is that they, too, become empowered in good ways such as actively participating in providing for the financial and physical needs of their families, becoming good fathers to their children, and knowing God personally in their lives to depend on him for the healing and restoration of their families.
Next year will be an important year for Samaritana as we celebrate its 25th year anniversary. We are thinking of having quarterly events throughout 2017 like a reunion for the women we have helped through the years, a coordinated outreach activity together with members of the coalition, an anniversary thanksgiving dinner with different stakeholders, and launching two books that Jonathan and I are beginning to write in collaboration with OMF Literature. If you are interested to be part of the anniversary celebration by co-sponsoring any of these events, do let us know. We will give you further details as plans take more shape.
Thelma and Jonathan