This Christmas, you can bring the gift of hope to families living on the edge of society
Imagine being pushed so far to the edges of society that you’re forced to live in a graveyard. No proper shelter. No running water, sanitation, or electricity. No schooling for your children. No healthcare. Not even basic documentation to prove you are who you say you are.
In a Manila cemetery, two thousand people live in a shanty community. They live amongst the tombs and graves, scratching a living as unofficial caretakers. Makeshift clothes lines are strung up across the tombs; cardboard and plastic is piled together to give shelter. Small fires burn everywhere to cook what little food they have.
At first, the city council tried to evict them, but it has now given up and turns a blind eye.
Living with the dead doesn’t mean living without God
When Sister Bella, a missionary Sister first heard about this cemetery city, she knew she had to do everything she could to bring God’s love to this impoverished community:
For children, the conditions are particularly harsh. Sister Bella says, ‘There is no privacy and the children are very, very vulnerable. Our little ‘Mosaic Centre’ at least gives them some time to be children’.
To give them a brief escape, the Sisters run a centre where the children can wash, learn and feel ‘normal’ for a while.
The Sisters believe that spiritual support is as important as material help, giving them confidence and the knowledge that they are worthwhile people deserving of God’s kindness, value and love.
Sister Bella adds: ‘When I first saw them they were eating and drinking from the ground. It was shocking and sad. So we have feeding programmes; we have taught them about hygiene and personal health and about respect for others and themselves. But it is an uphill battle. Their lives are a constant daily struggle.’
An overwhelming task
The Sisters desperately need to do so much more to help the forgotten folk of the Manila cemetery. But there is precious little they can do without funds.
Although the desire to help is there, there is so little income to help. The Philippine authorities would rather evict the cemetery dwellers. And while local churches have large and devout congregations, many are too poor to help.
You can help the Sisters bring light into the darkness of the cemetery dwellers.
This Christmas, your donation can help missionaries, like Sr Bella, provide hope and light to families who live on the edge of society.
- £10 could help the Sisters provide simple Christmas meals for families
- £35 could buy books and writing materials to teach children to read or write
- £50 could help pay for basic sanitation and health programmes
Please give whatever you can. Your prayers and support this Christmas will make all the difference.