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An Open Letter to Maryknoll Class of 1965

OPENING SCENE: A rickety shack in an urban slum. The shrieking drug addicts fighting outside in the narrow alley block the frightened children’s only path home from school. A sheet, draped on a string, provides scant privacy around the inodoro. Family member take turns emptying it into a plastic bag, having mastered tight knots to prevent any leaks before its jettisoned into the nearest creek. Every storm threatens to blow away the roof, pieces of rusted galvanized sheeting held together by wire and prayer, while rain soaks the shivering family huddled under a plastic sheet inside. Fear, anxiety, unending coughing are intimate companion of in the slums where dignity is a word without meaning.

BEHIND THE SCENE: Around a posh restaurant, well dressed females gather. A group of friends who went to school together a long time ago have funds left over from a project. Leadership emerges to rally a call for the balance needed to finish a house in a faith based development for the poor. Wallets fly open. Precious time, caring effort, generous cash, conspire to make it happen. For the fortunate, it comes from excess yet for others on pension and women alone, it means shrinking the monthly budget to participate in completing the shortfall.

ENDING SCENE. The turnover ceremony in an orderly low income subdivision. Eager-eyed, impatient kids fidgeting, teenagers vibrating with excitement, their parents’ faces absolutely glowing with joyful, disbelieving expressions as the beneficiary family becomes the owners of a HOUSE, titled to their name.

The donors present at the turnover, sustain minor inconvenience given the intense holiday traffic. Women with congested schedules keep expectant families gathered together waiting, some skipping celebrations in order to attend. A wife steals precious minutes away from a recovering husband, one refuses to concede to a brutal cough. Another takes time off from post Ondoy clean up.

The structure is 40 sqm, 2-story, solidly built of hollow blocks and cement, colorfully painted, living space for kitchen/dining/ sleeping, a real bathroom, swing out steel and glass windows with locks, a solid front door, and a patio for drying laundry. It was a fantasy, too impossible to classify as a dream. Unbelievably, their very own HOME is now…..reality.

Many fortunate graduates of our Maryknoll class, take care of others individually. They employ many, adopt orphans, educate prisoners, feed the poor, give money for squatters’ rights, loan funds for emergencies, fight corruption, write to raise consciousness despite bleak times, build libraries, organize medical missions, champion the environment, improve agri practices, inspire spiritual journeys, donate to disaster victims, vote with our conscience, bring treats to provincial folks, expand horizons of the young, keep time with the elderly, care for the sick and the grieving, assist street children, help the addicts, comfort the dying, uplift through original art work, are available 24/7 to friends.

But we and our schoolmates also make a huge difference in some lives through pooling our class funds to build houses so the less privileged can become home owners, too.

I know the names of each individual responsible for every act of compassion mentioned above. What a privilege it is to know every one of you.

IMAGINE, OUR LEGACY WILL OUTLIVE US! For surely the house will last beyond our lifetimes into the next generation and the next. What a humbling experience to see first hand how little some have, compared to our myriad blessings from God, so many that we run out of fingers and toes when we count them. It was embarrassing to be thanked with such abundance and repetition for what may be loose change for some of us. For in that single act, dear friends, is the critical lifeline that actually saves both souls and lives. Mabuhay!

Contributed by:

Anabel Morelos Chan
Maryknoll Class of 1965

Copyright 2008 Couples for Christ Foundation, Inc.
Apartelle 12, Star Mall, Edsa corner Shaw Blvd.
Mandaluyong City 1550, Philippines
Tel. Nos. +63(2) 718-2213 * Fax No. +63(2) 718-2213
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