Things here in the Philippines are very slow. Last June 1st we came out of total closure and entered the “general quarantine” phase, some movements are possible but only within municipalities or restricted areas, more shops and offices are open, but there is a lack of transport and therefore people can’t get to work.
The interruption of work continues to be a great difficulty along with the poverty of health care facilities.
We have reached more than 20,000 infectious diseases and 987 deaths. These are not large numbers, but the government is still not opening up regional borders because it knows that it cannot rely on adequate health care facilities. In fact, very few tampons have been taken and only on people with symptoms or who had been exposed to other infected people, but as we do not have large stocks of tampons, we continue to apply the obligation not to move unless strictly necessary.
It is not easy to continue to stay at home knowing that you do not have enough to support your family, people are hungry and the help that comes is insufficient. During other disasters, there was more freedom to move and therefore to reach the affected areas and bring help, but the COVID virus does not allow this, so many areas remain forgotten. In Quezon City, we were able to help by preparing vegetables and fruit received from general markets because they were damaged, but there is always so much to recover and we were able to prepare packages that we then leave in front of the houses in our neighborhood.
We adopted a group of 15 masons from the island of Masbate who were unable to leave because of the lockdown. They were left without any help and so we also shared with them what Providence offered us. Truly the Lord has found a way to meet us. In Mindoro, the sisters planted vegetables, and thanks to vermiculture they obtained abundant harvests which they shared with their neighbors.
You really experience the value of small things in these moments… who would have thought we would find ourselves cleaning up vegetables and making jams? As long as we had flour we baked bread inventing new recipes even with fruit. Everything is a gift and even the sellers of fruit and vegetables who have had serious losses of profit in this time said they were happy to know that even waste can help to overcome hunger.
The school stands still, President Duterte is giving contradictory communications about how and when the schools will reopen.
Canteens suspended at the end of March then until stocks of rice were distributed to the children’s families. Where it was possible we sent sacks of rice to the villages, but it was not easy because of the checkpoints.
We hope that everything will continue to proceed better and better and that the experience we had will help us to be more aware and responsible for the gifts that we often take for granted, such as the gift of life, faith, relationships, creation, work, health… even in this experience there was so much solidarity, participation in suffering and discomfort, we all felt more human.
Sister Rosanna Favero, on-site contact person