In the southern Philippines, Divine Word Missionaries are responding to the urgent needs that have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cebu City, is suffering from the highest number of cases in the nation’s Central Visayas region. This city, dubbed queen of the South, continues to wrestle with the effects of COVID-19 among its teeming population, especially the poor in the marginalized areas.
In the face of such suffering, how did the missionaries respond? They took immediate action. “We cannot just watch and wait for the turning of events,” said Father Rogelio Bag-ao SVD, the Provincial Superior for the Philippines-South Province. In his latest correspondence with us, he outlined the active response of Divine Word Missionaries to the COVID-19 pandemic there. This is what Fr. Rogelio Bag-ao shared:
The Informal Settlers and Impoverished Communities in Cebu City Were Left Reeling from COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to stay at home to avoid spreading and contracting the virus. Divine Word Missionaries in the Philippines-South Province were confined to their different communities, observing the quarantine rules faithfully. All regular programs and activities were temporarily stopped; some were even canceled indefinitely.
We were all caught in the difficult situation of not being able to serve people in our usual apostolates. Although the present rules and regulations prevent us from performing outreach to those in need, we cannot just watch and wait for the turning of events.
We know that this phenomenon has been an incredible hardship on our people, especially the poor and the marginalized, mainly the informal settlers in the city. Even before the government announced enhanced community quarantine, the province, through the Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, had already planned scenarios and actions that should be taken.
We decided to focus on the informal settlers and the depressed communities around Cebu, including our communities in our housing project. We distributed food packs to these people at least once a week for the duration of the lockdown. Through the help of our benefactors, we were able to reach out to more than 4,000 families. We reached out to those who did not get help from the government.
Everyone Is Contributing as They Are Able—Including Our University
Our University of San Carlos (USC) is also contributing significantly to the COVID-19 relief efforts—in many innovative and unexpected ways. Aside from taking care of the needs of the stranded students and employees, the university is formulating disinfectants and isopropyl alcohol for local hospitals and manufacturing personal protective equipment for those on the front lines. USC brought gallons of disinfectant to the Cebu City jail, where the number of COVID-19 infections continues to rise. USC also shipped disinfectants and isopropyl alcohol to those on the front line of our university hospital, Holy Name University Medical Center in Tagbilaran.
What has been happening in the province shows we cannot just watch and wait for the turning of events. We must continue to take action to help those in need in order to make a difference, and the confreres, their collaborators, students, and volunteers have shown that.
You Can Help in this Relief Effort—Start Your Own Personal Fundraiser Today!
While the Philippines and many other countries around the world continue to rebuild from the COVID-19 fallout, your support and advocacy is needed. Even though we have reached our original fundraising goal for our COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, there is still a great need (especially in places like the Philippines). As we press on to continue providing our missionaries with the financial support they need to bring COVID relief, we invite you to join us in our final fundraising effort by setting up a personal fundraising page.
By creating this fundraising page with Givebutter, you will be able to set a goal and invite your friends and family to join you via email and social media. You can set up your fundraiser in honor of a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion, or in memory of a loved one.
To learn how to get started, you can watch this brief video or click the button below. Thank you in advance for your generosity and support!