Remembering the Forgetten, Giving Hope
Remembering the Forgotten, Giving Hope
Easter - a time to celebrate new life. This Easter we are blessed with the joy of celebrating the success of a special fundraising project - “Remembering the Forgotten, Giving Hope”.
This joint project by Good Shepherd Convent Restful Waters, Singapore (RW), Good Shepherd Mission Development Office, Rome (MDO) and the Good Shepherd International Justice and Peace Office, New York (GSIJPO), began at the Feast of Epiphany with a humble target of US$100,000, which was quickly revised upward to US$200,000. Through the collective effort of family, friends, benefactors, volunteers and Good Shepherd mission partners across the Province, we managed to surpass the target with a total collection of US$320,000!
Guests at the launch on 4 January 2014 at Restful Waters, Singapore
Listening to Sr Susan Chia’s account of the living conditions in Kolwezi - the hunger and desperation of children having to eat sand to fill their stomachs, the rampant rape and abuse of women and children, and the punishing conditions of working in the mines – these injustices stirred our hearts with compassion. They called out to us with urgency to respond to the cries of the people in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The committee of RW resolved to spearhead a project to raise funds and create an awareness of the realities of life in DRC, especially the plight of the women and children. The MDO and GSIJPO were fully supportive of this initiative and provided us with much information required to enable RW to highlight the dire situation in DRC and the GS Sisters’ plans to improve the lives of the people in Kolwezi. A collective approach was taken by RW with an aim to multiply resources, to gather as many Good Shepherd people as possible to help tell the story of DRC so that far more people can hear the cries and reach out to the poor.
On 4 January 2014, close friends and family members were invited to the launch of “Remembering the Forgotten, Giving Hope”. Many at the launch were touched by the stories and personal accounts of Sr Susan Chia and Sr Margaret Lee. They could not imagine anyone eating sand to survive but the realities and truth coming out from Kolwezi cannot be ignored or forgotten.
Those present pledged their support for Kolwezi and were determined to ensure the projects planned would be successfully implemented and sustained. They were confident, especially when in-depth research and planning had been carried out and regularly reviewed by MDO and that capacity building sessions by GSIJPO are ongoing for sisters, staff and volunteers.
The spirit of generosity of partners in mission was evident with many making immediate donations but more importantly, they went home to tell others of the story of Kolwezi. As the message began to spread through Mission Partners who attended the gathering and through the fundraising blog, we witnessed the multiplication effect taking place.
Jane Ng, who produced the launch music video ‘Do they know its Christmastime’ wrote, “I was first attracted to the Congo project by curiosity. I wanted to know what was behind the invitation to spend a morning or afternoon at Restful Waters. Before I knew it, I was well and truly caught, simply because of my inability to say no to Susan's request to put photographs to music for the launch of the Congo project. I was delighted to use my new-found skills to create a video for the project. Selecting the photographs to accompany the lyrics was a profoundly moving experience and making the video was a simple labour of love.
Listening to Susan and Morene at the launch of the project touched me to the core. I was deeply moved by Susan's courage and faith, and her love for the people of Congo. I thought the idea of reaching out to the people of Congo through this project to compensate for Susan's cancelled trip was ingenious, even divinely inspired.
At the earliest opportunity, I shared with my family and friends the plight of the poor people of Congo. People who endure hardship and suffer exploitation to feed our reliance on computers and hand phones. I was so grateful and happy that many hearts were touched and responded generously.
This project has revealed to me how wondrous God's ways are. From the pain and suffering of one person, Susan, awareness and compassion were stirred for the pain and suffering of people in another continent, another hemisphere halfway across the world. Loving hearts opened wallets to give generously, and hope for a better life for the poor people of Congo can become certainty. We are one human family after all, one flock belonging to the same Shepherd, and having been blessed abundantly by our Shepherd God, the least we could do when we heard of the plight of our brothers and sisters in Congo, was to share our blessings with them.”
The experiences and encounters over these few months have been one of solidarity, standing together to raise the dignity of the forgotten ones in DRC. It had been an encouraging journey that went beyond benefactors coming forth with donations, but of numerous personal stories of generosity, self-sacrifice and gratitude.
Such stories include a couple who immediately came the very next day after the launch with a very generous donation and stating that they see value in the project and want to give their full support to it.
Another sharing is of a lady from a humble background willingly sacrificing her shopping allowance to make a $1,000 donation. A teenage student felt compassion so deep as to share his $10 school allowance with the people in DRC.
A mother in Malaysia, whose young son had passed away, generously donated the sum of money that she had set aside for him. She said that her son no longer needed the money now but she could still make a difference for other children by sharing it.
The following are some reports filed by the different ministries in the Province of Singapore-Malaysia.
Marymount Convent School, Singapore
“Every year during Lent, our pupils are encouraged to set aside some pocket money as part of almsgiving and donate the it to a local charity. This year, in addition to almsgiving, we wanted to raise awareness of the Good Shepherd Mission around the world and chose Kolwezi, Congo to benefit from it. We wanted our pupils to reflect on and live out the Good Shepherd values of “Gratitude” for all that they have been blessed with and “Compassion” for others. The pupils were told that no amount was “too little”.
The project was launched on 10 February 2014. It was still within the Chinese New Year period and we knew that many pupils had received “ang pows” from their relatives. We showed our pupils and staff slides on Kolwezi and highlighted the children’s plight. Many pupils “teared” on hearing about the lack of food and facilities for education. The pupils dropped in what they brought into the Collection Box during Recess time at the canteen. We did one round of collection during the week. Some pupils spoke to their parents who also gave generously. One pupil in particular said that she received so much more than she needed, so she wanted to share. Some pupils dropped by every day to donate their spare pocket money. They were very enthusiastic about the drive and a few pupils volunteered to walk around with the collection box during their break time.
Through this drive, our pupils realised that they were very fortunate and were grateful that their parents had provided them with a comfortable life. They pledged to stop wasting food and water. They were sad to hear of children in Congo having to eat sand to stave off their hunger pangs and were amazed that they looked so happy even when they did not have proper school facilities.
We hope to highlight more Good Shepherd Mission projects around the world in future so that we can spread the awareness of what the Good Shepherd Mission does throughout the world.”
Mrs Susanna Teo (Head, Chaplaincy Team, Marymount Convent School, Singapore)
Sr. Joan Lopez, Cecilia Lim, Anna Low, Sr Susan Chia & Sr Lucy Chia, with the funds raised by pupils of Marymount Convent School
Good Shepherd Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
“In Kuala Lumpur, we watched a video clip where children waited in line for what was probably their only hot meal of the day, each child carefully carrying a bowl in both hands so as not to spill any of the precious porridge. The irony was that we, the Malaysians, were watching this clip in a room surrounded by food in excess. We were surely made doubly aware of the plight of these poor people who obviously need help, need funds urgently.”
Caroline Gunn(Lay Associate)
Yes, and for this very reason mission partners and friends gathered in Madonna Heights, Kuala Lumpur in the afternoon of 15th February to witness the launch of a fund raising campaign for the community in Kolwezi. After the video clip presentation, a hi-tea was served. The delicious spread was prepared by many generous donors including the residents of the Teenage Centre and the Women’s Shelter. There were brisk sales of satay, tidbits, cookies, pickles, apple pies and cakes mostly from Rose Virginie Good Shepherd Centre, Ipoh at the launch too. Raffle numbers were available for sale and the first prize was a ladies’ watch worth about RM2, 000.”
Good Shepherd Sabah, East Malaysia
The children from Asrama Desa Pukak, a hostel for primary school children from rural villages in Sabah, Malaysia, made greeting cards to reach out to the children in Kolwezi. The cards were drawn by the children who also wrote messages of encouragement and friendship.
Good Shepherd Kindergartens, Malaysia
“When the Good Shepherd Kindergartens got on board the project, it was decided that the best way to spread the message and create awareness would be through a food and fun fair. It would coincide with Lent to create awareness among the children on the needs and suffering of others in the world. The children were shown the video and discussed poverty and sharing. Moral lessons and even assembly was used to expand on compassion, sharing and loving beyond borders.
Mariaville Kindergarten, Ipoh, held their food and fun fair on 12 April and Villamaria, Kuala Lumpur, on 26 April. On both days, we were blessed with clear skies that gave extra impetus to the activities of the day. The food stalls ranged from local delights to western fare and were sold out early.
The activities were popular with the children. These included T-shirt painting, lucky dip, games stalls, sand art and, the star attraction, a pony ride. The clown had sore arms from non-stop balloon sculpting and the ponies were dizzy from the rides and even helped trim the grass while waiting!
All the while, the video of the mission in Kolwezi played in a loop for people to find out more about why we were raising funds. The two days were deeply satisfying and the staff indeed did a wonderful job of organising and running the show together with the enthusiastic mission partners.
The combined total raised by both kindergartens was RM48,548.00, far exceeding the initial target. It showed the generosity and spirit of caring that the Good Shepherd Kindergartens always aim to instill in the young. It proves that education based on values is not just a phase or an idea but has a far reaching impact on the young and their adulthood later on in life.”
(Anne Emmanuel, Director of Good Shepherd Kindergartens & Nurseries, Malaysia)
Fun at the Fair
The support of Good Shepherd Mission Partners in the Province had been overwhelming and was a testimony to the living out of justice and inclusion. The experience allowed us to see the good works carried out by the Good Shepherd Mission in Kolwezi and we learnt to stretch our hearts and minds to see beyond the boundaries, to recognise opportunities to help create new life beyond the pain and suffering brought about by war and oppression.