NYD delegates find joy in spending time with street kids
CEBU, Philippines — Some delegates of the National Youth Day had a moving encounter with the street children from the cities of Cebu and Mandaue.
Youth minister Miguel Joaquin Sandoval, 25, from Manila, was elated seeing the smiles of the street children the delegates served on Friday during the simultaneous site immersions.
The delegate, who works at Quezon City’s Christ’s Youth in Action, went out from his usual routine of facilitating campus ministries to reaching out with street children, a heart-melting experience for him.
“In my brief moments with them, it is very life-giving. You can see their smiles, nakakapaglambot ng puso. Especially when I talk with them, they are very lively. In their faces, it is like they are happy to talk with someone. I am also happy to talk with them. It’s a joyful experience,” he told The FREEMAN.
Sandoval is one of the 40 delegates housed at the St. Joseph the Patriarch host parish (Cebu City North cluster) that had service immersion at the “Abtanan sa Kaluoy,” which is an activity center for street children owned by the Cebu archdiocese.
Though he had several outreach programs with street children already, for him, every encounter with them is special.
Seeing the poverty situation here, Sandoval recognized that there has to be actions and intervention to bring about changes, with young Catholics having a great role of participation for this endeavor.
The scenes fueled him to also take part in the initiatives that ease problems among poor and homeless children.
“First thing that struck me is that there is a lot to be done in terms of improving here our situation in the Philippines (with the) number of street children here. I am inspired of what else I can do to improve the situation,” said Sandoval.
Father Apolinard Victor Mateo from the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao, who is also with the same host parish as Sandoval, said people should also feel or empathize with the street children and reflect on their lives.
The 33-year-old St. Padre Pio parish priest in Alcala town, Cagayan said all Catholics, and not only Church members, should also be engaged with these programs that help the less fortunate and that they, too, should open their eyes to their needs, hear their sentiments and most especially, initiate action.
Fr. Mateo said people can volunteer as facilitators, pledge assistance or donation and every Catholic should open their hearts and taw part in the mission that Christ has imparted upon the people.
Father Carmelo Diola, executive director of Abtanan sa Kaluoy, said young Catholics are taught of the spirit of volunteerism as they can share their time and energy in serving the street children.
“We are providing an opportunity for the NYD delegates to have the Abtanan sa Kaluoy street kids encounter that is really serving basic physiological needs of the children,” he said.
The delegates assisted the children in taking their bath while some were busy doing the profiling of new comers. Some facilitated the children who were doing some artworks like drawing and coloring.
The Abtanan sa Kaluoy, which is managed through an organized charity, is not a shelter for street children but an activity center offering basic services like feeding and bathing, also playing and physical exercises. The center is yet to be fully operational by June and will be opened five times a week with a goal to serve 800 children a month.
Diola said the facilitators wish to teach the delegates the joy of reaching out to “people who are beyond the peripheries” like the street children, and the experience may also help them broaden their ideas that they, too, can open and manage a center.
This encounter was what Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma intends to impart to the NYD 2019 delegates.
During his homily at the opening Mass last Wednesday, Palma called on the delegates to make their participation to the weeklong activity worthwhile.
He said after experiencing the different religious activities and service immersions, he hopes that the delegates will return to their respective parishes feeling blessed and empowered.
With this, he desires of them to reach out also to fellow young people in their place and share with them what they learned and experienced here in Cebu.
Meanwhile, the Police Regional Office (PRO) in Central Visayas is gearing for the arrival of Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, papal nuncio to the Philippines, on Saturday.
“All security preparations are done. We are ready for the day the papal nuncio is expected to arrive. No immediate threats monitored,” said Police Brigadier General Debold Sinas, PRO-7 director.
Cebu City Police Office Director Police Colonel Royina Garma said city police will also be deployed to secure the venues for the National Youth Day, which kicked off on April 24 and will conclude on Sunday. — KBQ (FREEMAN)