St. Martin de Porres, Bustos, Bulacan, Philippines, April 2008
2009: Giving Thanks and Moving Ahead
2009 is off to a promising start at Saint Martin de Porres (SMDP). Now 88 children strong, the solid community that has formed offers security, consistency, and comfort to its young residents, who just this past December welcomed seven new children into the fold.
The children passed a joyful Christmas holiday, highlights of which were a typical American lunch of burgers and fries catered by the local Jolly Bee as well as visits from local volunteers and friends of the mission. Perhaps the best gift of all was that SMDP founder Father Boyet was on a solid path to recovery from the minor stroke he suffered in November. To lighten his workload, he now has an assistant to help him and the SMDP staff meet the daily challenges of guiding the children as they move forward with their lives. At year’s end, news came that filmmaker Ariel Geronimo, who began telling their story in his video Circles of Love, will pick up where he left off and soon begin filming footage for Circles’ sequel.
In other developments, construction of the future dining–assembly hall, sponsored by JDVSF, has begun and sites chosen for two new cottages, funded by the JDVSF and a private donor. SMDP’s younger boys and girls are now happily ensconced in the first two cottages completed on site, with the older boys living in the first residence built with JDVSF financing. Still, the need for more housing grows, as new children are rescued from the streets of Manila and brought to the sanctuary SMDP has become.
Final preparations for the workshop that will be offered during the children’s April-May summer break in the new SMDP vocational skills training center are also underway thanks to the generosity of Gunther and Joyce Pilarski. Once on hiatus from their busy slate of school-year activities, the children will get valuable instruction in skills that will one day ensure they don’t end up back on the streets. With an ever-growing arsenal of tools—both spiritual and practical—at their disposal, the children can increasingly look to the future with confidence and hope.
Preparing them for healthy self-sufficiency once they grow up and finally leave SMDP is a major goal. But while they are still there, SMDP’s agricultural program reinforces that message by providing food for their table, the surplus of which is sold at market. A small herd of goats, a sizeable flock of geese, four fishponds, and a growing orchard of papaya, mango, lime, and banana trees are all tended by the children under the supervision of the SMDP house parents and the property’s gardener, who lives in a thatched house on site.
Excitement is also building as the SMDP chapel nears its inauguration this spring. Masses are already being held in the new house of worship, where the children are being trained to play such important roles as mass servers and ushers. They are also participating in weekly choral rehearsals and receiving thrice-weekly instruction in the musical instruments they play to accompany the mass. Work will culminate with the relocation of the bell that has called the children to prayer from its perch in the administration building to its new home in the chapel.
Next to the church are two new guesthouses, intended to meet the growing demand for accommodations from supporters who wish to be a part of the exciting expansion of the home SMDP has come to be.