Today, vast increased of migrants and refugees to all parts of the world; why ‘because they are looking for the green pastures, for the security and a good future for their families.
Why in Taiwan when the currency is not as high compared to other countries? Simply because the salary here is better than in our country. People from all walks of life come to work in the different factories here in Taiwan; the salary is on time and good enough to support a family. Workers here were not all professionals but mostly are college level that couldn’t find a decent job in our place.
The sisters met the Filipino workers in one of the migrant meeting in preparation for the migrant Sunday activity. The Filipino group was so happy to see Filipina sisters so they invited the sisters to visit their community in Champion Dormitory, Yongkang. It’s quite far from the city; it takes 45 minutes by bus without traffic. In that Dormitory thousands of Filipinos were catered, they have separate dormitory for female and male. The management and staff of the Dormitory provided them a place where they can use it for Sunday’s masses and a small room where they kept their musical instruments and other things for the Mass. The community was formed through the guidance of the Salesian priests. The priests were glad to see the presence of the sisters. They have Mass every Sunday morning and evening and also they were allowed to have their regular religious activities, like praying the Rosary and having the Bible sharing, room to room rosary for the month of October and also Sinulog festival every January.
We attend the Bible sharing every Thursday morning with the group and the priest will also come in the evening. We also give counseling and other matters that could help them in their longings of their love ones. Not only in Yongkang Dorm that we avail ourselves but also in the Parish with our Dominican priests at Immaculate Conception Church. It’s thirty minutes’ walk from our convent. Before we have only one Mass for English at 4:00 PM, but since then there was an increase of Church goers so the Parish decided to have another time for English Mass.
At present we have two English masses, 2:30 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. We conducted an ongoing formation, Bible sharing, recollection and retreat to these group of OFW that goes to ICC. Last 2014 we started our Simbang Gabi in preparation for the Christmas; the sisters take turn in sharing the Gospel reflection. We also give counseling to those who are in need. In the parish we also have community bonding like tour once a year with the support of our Parish Priest.
In connection with all the activities that we have, it was a great help for our migrant workers because they have a place where they feel at home. We come to know them through sharing of their life’s struggles and difficulties. We help them spiritually as well as financially if it is a need. Our Dominican Priests were very supportive with our Filipino community. The sisters also gave catechesis for those Filipino who asked for it, like preparation for confirmation and baptism. The Filipino community composed of choirs, lectors, commentators, and altar servers. After 4:00 p.m. mass we have our simple snacks.
Working and living abroad is not easy for many of them. They experienced many problems like abuses from the agency and employer, language barrier that can cause misunderstanding, experiencing home sick and longing for their families and loved ones whom they have left behind and also the families left behind. There are countless heart breaking stories we heard from them, like problems of broken families, dysfunctional and juvenile delinquent children because of family’s separation, moral instability is increasing and has become a problem that challenges the church and the society. It’s our responsibility to help them to cope with their life’s struggles, and to maintain their status and to be faithful to their families and loved ones.
What is consoling in our work is that many of them become more attentive and faithful to their families. They were so generous and grateful. The Champion Dormitory community is supporting financially to the least fortunate students in the Philippines as well as sending material goods and school supplies.
Last year we have the opportunity to celebrate with the OFW the 800 Jubilee of the Dominican Order. They help us in the decoration and programs. It was such a very enriching activity that we coincide with the Christmas celebration in our convent. This celebration was attended by the Filipino community and Chinese community from the Immaculate Conception Parish with the coordination of our Barangay chairman. The Bishop graced the occasion and also the presence of our personnel and staff from MECO (Manila Economic and Cultural Office). Our Dominican Parish priest Fr. Jose Veneros shared a glimpse of the life and virtues of St. Dominic.
The Tainan Diocese celebrates migrant Sunday every second week of January. This is an occasion for us to meet other OFW from other places here in Tainan, an occasion to deepen their faith in their bonding with the other Filipino workers. This is the time of sharing their joys, talents, and abilities, promoting our cultures and values as Filipino through dancing and singing. Every OFW are looking forward to this occasion, a way of getting to know each other and a feeling of belongings and at home. We the sisters, the Bishop, the priests, the community leaders from the different communities working with the migrant have a regular meeting for the planning and preparation of this yearly activity.
We continually pray that each day may we always have the strength and courage to carry on this task that the Lord has entrusted to us. We constantly pray for the guidance and protection of all migrant workers all over the world.
The task of serving and working with people on the move is challenging.