Ministering to Indigenous Youth
Originally Published on OMIWORLD.ORG
A significant event occurred on 3 August 2014 at the parish of Our Lady of Salvation, Timanan, South Upi, Maguindanao. Fr. Jurambelle John SACIL blessed the De Mazenod Dormitory for I.P. (Indigenous People) students. Students, benefactors, parents and other guests were present for the event which also served as a commemorative tribute for the 232nd anniversary of the birth of St. Eugene De Mazenod. The former bunker house was renovated into a dormitory through the help benefactors in both the Philippines and the United States.
The dormitory houses 31 needy students of the Teduray, one of the major Indigenous Peoples of the Southern Philippines. They are Grade 7 students at Lumao National High School, located about 15 kilometers from the parish.
Eighty percent of Barangay Kuya’s population belongs to the Teduray, Lambanglan/Baleg and Manobo indigenous tribes. They are timid and peace-loving people who live in the area. Many of them are illiterate and, because of poverty, children have no access to education. Added to this, the distance of their homes from the school site becomes another deterrent because the children need to cross a river to reach the school.
The idea of establishing a dormitory for the Indigenous youth came from a conversation between the Timanan parish priest, Fr. Dennis GUI, and some of the school administrators from the area. With the urging of Fr. Gui, the Oblate parish began the “Indigenous People Support Project.” Students are provided free meals, free lodging, and a free school uniform. Vegetables planted in a nearby property add to the food supplies for the students.
The project is a genuine community endeavor. The teachers of Lumao National High School take charge of the management and supervision of the dormitory. Parents provided the labor for the repair of the bunker house. The local government through the Vice-Mayor and Barangay Captain have pledged monthly support for the dormitory students’ food, and the Church community raises needed funds.
St. Eugene had a soft spot in his heart for disadvantaged youth. This remains a living Oblate legacy, as the people of Our Lady of Salvation Parish in Timanan respond to the educational needs of youth. (Philippine Province Newsletter, November 2014)