Drug war orphans turn to prayer for healing, end to killings

Drug war orphans turn to prayer for healing, end to killings
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School children led by those orphaned as a result of drug-related killings join in the “One Million Children Praying the Rosary” for peace campaign at San Jose Academy in Navotas on Thursday. ROY LAGARDE

By Roy Lagarde

October 18, 2018

Manila, Philippines

As killings continue, children orphaned by the government’s brutal war against drugs turned to a higher power for help.

With only a rosary clutched in her hand, 11-year-old Jocelyn Garganta was among the orphans who led around 500 other school children in prayer at the San Jose Academy in Navotas City on Thursday.

For the girl, whose father and grandfather were killed on the same day last year, it was her response to a crisis: “We prayed for an end to the atrocities currently taking place in our area.”

Garganta is second of the three children but her two siblings died from illness, the other from an accident.

And since her parents separated when she was just nine, the girl now stays with her grandmother.

Garganta is also among orphans of victims of the drug war being provided scholarships by the Diocese of Kalookan.

Over twenty thousand people have already been murdered over the last two years and there seem to be no end in sight to the killing spree.

Now on its third year, more than 80 countries participated in this year’s “one million children Praying the rosary” for peace campaign of the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

In the Philippines, thousands of children from around 1,200 parishes and 700 schools from 41 dioceses have joined the initiative.

But the local celebration was highlighted in Navotas wherein children who have been orphaned or left behind without a breadwinner led in praying the rosary.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of the Kalookan diocese, which covers Navotas, said the number of orphans and widows is increasing everyday in a war where “children suffer the most”.

“They don’t understand what’s happening. It’s so heartbreaking,” said David, whose diocese has become a “killing field”.

ACN Philippines’ National Director Jonathan Luciano said the prayer gathering was also aimed to show solidarity with other children in other parts of the world “who needed help more than we do”.

“This means a lot especially to those who have been suffering very much because of persecution and oppression,” he said.

In order to advance the cause, the children also donated a portion of their allowances to help fund ACN projects for kids in Iraq, Syria and Africa.