Social action: God provides… through donors and volunteers

Social action: God provides… through donors and volunteers

Volunteers repack donated stuff into relief packages at the Caritas Tarlac Center, San Luis, Tarlac City, supervised by Fr. Randy Salunga. CARITAS TARLAC FB PAGE

By Fr. Mickey Cardenas

Aug. 11, 2018

PUERTO PRINCESA

“There are times when huge miracles happen by dint of little things.”

This is how a priest expressed the immense task of the social action ministry as more than 200 National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) and Caritas Philippines diocesan counterparts from 85 dioceses from all over the country converged in this city for the 39th National Social Action General Assembly (NASAGA) from Aug. 6 to 10.

The NASAGA is the biennial event organized to gather all the social action workers of the Catholic Church from the national level down to the different diocesan social action centers and commissions.

In an interview with CBCP News Fr. Randy Manipon Salunga shared his recent experience as the newly-appointed spiritual director of Caritas Tarlac.

‘Baptism of fire’

To this “novice” social action director his “baptism of fire” in the social action ministry came, ironically, with strong rains and floods that sent hundreds of residents to evacuation centers in several municipalities in Tarlac.

According to the priest, on July 23, less than 10 people from Caritas Tarlac were able to gather for an emergency meeting to plan the organization’s largest relief operation so far.

“We had no funds to feed thousands of families. We knew what we had to do but the resources were still in the pockets of generous donors,” said Salunga. They had nothing but half a cavan of rice to start the relief drive with.

“We paused for a while, stared at each other, took a deep breath, and decided ‘Let’s chip in’. It was far from enough but, just like the multiplication of the loaves and fish, someone had to take the initiative to bring out the ‘five loaves and two fish’ so that God can multiply it,” he shared.

‘Unexpected people’

Soon enough donors and volunteers came to Caritas Tarlac’s help through “unexpected people from unexpected places,” with additional support from Tarlac Bishop Enrique Macaraeg, Caritas Manila, Radio Veritas, and Don Bosco Tarlac.

Within three days, 2,963 bags of relief goods, boxes of medicines, and bottled water were distributed to the parishes of Dolores, Nuestra Senora de la Paz, St. Anthony de Padua, and St. Michael the Archangel, to the Barangays of Tambugan, Bilad, Sawat, Pao 1st, and 2nd in the town of Camiling, and to eight evacuation centers in Moncada, Tarlac.

Rehabilitation of Caritas Tarlac headquarters

The newly-established Caritas Tarlac will hold a fund-raising drive for the rehabilitation and construction of its headquarters, the old “Cursillo” House, in San Luis, Tarlac City, which will be designated as the Caritas Tarlac Lay Formation and Mission Center.

“Please support the fund-raising drive so that we can have a proper place to hold the activities of Caritas Tarlac and better train the poor to ‘help themselves’,” appealed Salunga.

Interested parties may contact Caritas Tarlac at +639773033195 or through the Caritas Tarlac Facebook page.