The Hope of the Poor
The Diocese of Borongan covers the civil province of Eastern Samar, Philippines. It is a rough hilly province, which occupies the eastern portion of Samar Island facing the great Pacific Ocean. Its geographical location makes it vulnerable to frequent occurrences of strong tropical typhoons, storm surges in the area perennially disturbing the economy of the region and causing more hardships among its people.
The province’s basic literacy rate of 97.2% is the highest in Eastern Visayas region where Eastern Samar is a part of the administrative division, but educational attainment of population, however, is relatively low as 44.2% of the population five years old and over attended or completed elementary education only, while 30.6% of the population of the same age group completed high school. Those who are academic degree holders accounted for 7.9%. Really, college education is second to impossible for most young people living in poor, underserved, remote areas. And if ever they are given an opportunity through local government scholarships, they are at the command and control of local politics.
When Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the southern part of the province in November 2013 and Typhoon Hagupit flooded the central towns in 2014, the educational needs of the young men and women in the Diocese was left in the sidelines. Education was, understandably, not listed as an urgent matter inasmuch as this is more of a concern for the future. Obviously, the reduction of the financial capability of the people necessitates that families will have to set their priorities
The Diocese of Borongan moved to fill this gap by providing students from poor families the opportunity to continue their studies and eventually secure a better future for them, their families, and eventually the society at large. In Eastern Samar, one of the poorest provinces of the Philippines, poor families strongly believe that only education remains the hope of the future for their children. It is their best hope to break the vicious cycle of destitution in their lives. The problem is the lack of opportunity.
Now on its sixth year in operation, the Diocese of Borongan has supported 223 poor students from different areas of the diocese, one hundred twenty four (124) of which has graduated from college. Part of the requirements for scholarship support is for the scholar to attend monthly formations, a semestral 50-hour social apostolate requirement, as well as a 50-hour parish involvement. Renewal of scholarship is semestral, so evaluation is done prior enrollment for the next semester.
Majority of those who graduated are already working in their respective fields of specializations from agriculture, education, accountancy, mass communications, and engineering. Most of them are able now to help their families by sending another sibling to school. Definitely, a difference has been made in their lives and in their families, and in their involvement and service to the Church.
In this pandemic times, uncertainty has seeped once more in the lives of our young people, especially the poor. The fear is that education may be relegated once more to the sidelines due to the pressing and more urgent need to survive. The Diocese of Borongan knocks at the door of each and everyone’s heart to help us continue to be able to keep this young people in school and get the education they need to better the quality of life they all dream for their families. As a popular saying says: “Educate one and you educate a whole family.” Education is the key to opportunity and the only wealth, apart from one’s faith, that cannot be robbed nor taken away from anyone. Thank you.
Now we invite your thoughts. Please share in the comments section below. And while you’re here, continue on a virtual mission by reading more of our stories and reflections as we discover together how “We are Mission”.
What is the Missionary Cooperative Plan? Each year over 200 groups request to be considered for a mission appeal in the Joliet Diocese: priests, sisters and laypeople that need our help so that they can continue doing their work for God’s poor. Our present reality with COVID 19 has been challenging for everyone in the world. Obviously, with the precaution of social distancing, the missioners who participate in our MCP do not have a physical audience, nor can they travel even if they did. Most of them count on the MCP to sustain their much needed mission works.
So, we are inviting you to be in solidarity with them by giving whatever you can to the MCP appeal in support the groups who have been approved for 2020. You may donate online or by sending a check made payable to “Diocese of Joliet Pontifical Mission Societies” and mailing to the Joliet Diocese Mission Office at 16555 Weber Road, Crest Hill, Illinois 60403. (Put “MCP” on the memo line.) 100% of your giving will go to these organizations.
Each week we will be highlighting one of our missionary groups so that you will know a more about the work they do for God’s people. We know that times are and will continue to be financially challenging for many. Please do what you can and remember that your prayers for the missioners and their good works are always appreciated. God does not call everyone to work directly among God’s poor and needy here and in other countries. But you are part of the Church’s mission. Your support with prayers and financial aid makes mission work possible. Bless you all! Let us keep in mind what Pope Francis has said: We are mission!