For each of the six weeks of Lent, the Diocese of Parramatta is sharing one of Caritas Australia’s feature stories of lives changed through support and empowerment programs.
SIXTH SUNDAY OF LENT/PALM SUNDAY – 25 March, 2018
Caritas Australia is working with Filipino youth to improve education opportunities and move out of poverty. About 22 million Filipinos live below the poverty line, and hundreds of thousands of people are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Psyche Mae grew up with her parents and four siblings in Bagong Silangan in Quezon City, Metro Manila.
With few skills or paid work, her family, like thousands of others desperate to make ends meet, were forced to pick through the rubbish that surrounded them and sell what they could to survive.
Then, a meeting with Sister Ann from Caritas Australia’s partner, the Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ) changed Psyche Mae’s life. Through a low interest loan scheme offered by FCJ, Psyche’s mother has become a full-time sewer and her father works in a House Repair program, also run by FCJ.
“When my mother was able to earn from her renewed skills, she was also able to share her skills and knowledge with others and that helped her gain self-esteem and confidence,” Psyche Mae says.
“Her earnings helped her to have more financial freedom and assist with our daily needs, instead of merely depending on the income of my father.”
Psyche Mae herself is now a qualified social worker for the Philippines Government, helping informal settlers, particularly women. She is a hard worker, working full-time and studying after work at university, where she plans to continue on to study a Master’s degree.
“I decided to work with women and children because I’m wearing their shoes, I feel what they feel,” Psyche Mae says.
Psyche Mae says that her family’s improved finances are enabling her own mother to pay better attention to her health- an often costly undertaking for poor Filipino women.
“If FCJ’s Integrated Community Development Program was never around, maybe we would all still be living in poverty,” she says.
Psyche Mae is most interested in education as the best way to improve live, not only of young people but of whole communities.
“Life is not easy. We work so hard in order to survive daily living but we do believe that education is something to be prioritised,” Psyche Mae says.
“We see to it that we do well in school, because it is the only thing that we can give back to our parents. We do so, despite the fact that we have to walk for an hour in order to reach our schools.”
“It was always my dream to have a healthy environment where dwellers have positive relationships, families are strengthened and have access to permanent employment, livelihood and other social services. And women and children and vulnerable sectors are protected.”
Psyche Mae says Australian donor funds will help out with housing, education and medical needs, maintain health and wellbeing and work towards eradicating poverty and providing a just future for others like her.
“I would like to thank you for supporting Caritas Australia. It’s because of you that the FCJ are able to provide beneficial programs. Please continue to support Caritas Australia and God bless,” she says.
Support Project Compassion 2018 and help support education and employment opportunities in the Philippines. A just future starts with you.
This year Caritas Australia, the International Aid and Development Agency of the Catholic Church in Australia, highlights the way that the pursuit of ‘Just Future’ is changing lives. Youth are the future leaders of their societies, and are the focus of this liturgical, ‘Year of Youth’, in Australia. During Lent, Australians are invited to support Project Compassion by making a donation, or by hosting fundraising events in their local school, parish, community or neighbourhood. Supporters can also to share their stories on social media at #ProjectCompassion. To donate to Project Compassion or for fundraising ideas visit www.caritas.org.au/projectcompassion or phone 1800 024 413.