Sunday, August 17, 2008
The Girls at Casa Cittadini
Two weeks ago, I wrote about a pint-sized survivor I called Angel. This 4-year old girl survived six days and nights all alone in a forested area, without food, her tiny body covered with wounds, and all the time tormented by maggots.
I wrote about her for a variety of reasons. I wanted to thank my friends who did not hesitate to send help to Angel. I also wanted to bring her plight to the attention of readers, hoping to touch some hearts into giving to the child the same love and kindness shown to her by many others. Finally, it was my own way of giving kudos to this extraordinary little individual. I want to believe that she is destined for something really, really good.
This week let me introduce little Manilyn to you. There was a time when Manilyn had to beg for food to survive. This came after her father died of tuberculosis and her mother abandoned her and her six siblings. But good fortune smiled at her. She has been taken in by loving arms and given a secure home. She no longer has to worry where to get her next meal. And she is now in grade one.
Then, there are the sisters Melrita and Sherlita. Just like Manilyn, their mother abandoned them. They continued to live with their farmer-father, but with nine mouths to feed, life was hard. The children learned early in life to survive on their own. They were often hungry and had to resort to combing the fields for food. When they got lucky, they would feast on raw cassava, banana and other crops.
But this life is behind Melrita and Sherlita now. They have also been taken in by those same loving arms and given a good life and a shot at a better future ahead of them. The older girl, Melrita, is now in 2nd year high school, and Sherlita in grade five.
And then, there is Lady Princess. Her father was too ill to provide for his family, thus, her older brothers had to step in. They brought home food for the table by gathering and selling firewood. But the efforts of these boys were not enough. The family, with nine hungry children, could barely eat one meal a day. To add to this miserable existence, the children barely got the chance to go to school.
But Lady Princess was one determined little girl. She wanted to go to school and it was this determination that led her to her new home. She is now in 1st year high school and belongs to the top ten of her class.
The stories of Manilyn, Melrita, Sherlita, and Lady Princess are like mirrors that are reflected over and over again in the lives of twenty-three other girls, whose age range from four to twenty-one. The same thread of poverty, abandonment, neglect, and oversized families ran through the fabric of their parallel lives.
Some of them came from Luzon, others from Mindanao. But they all came together in Jawa, Valencia, living a better life, facing a brighter future, and safe and secure under the loving embrace of the Ursuline Sisters of Somasca.
These kindly nuns recognize that the children are the most helpless and vulnerable individuals in any society. They thus took these young girls in when they knocked at their convent’s door and provided to them the physical, moral, spiritual and educational nurturing that they have been deprived of during their early years.
Thus CASA CITTADINI came to be – a home for orphaned, abandoned and neglected girls.
Following the examples of Blessed Caterina Cittadini – a woman who lived for God and who devoted all her life towards giving Christian education and formation to young children – the Ursuline Sisters opened the doors of Casa Cittadini with the mission of caring for these lost children. They educated them, provided to them the love of family that they have missed out, and gave to them all they need to make them happy children of God.
The Ursuline Sisters seek to cultivate in these girls a strong faith in Christ and to promote the formation of Christian values. They hope to develop in them the whole person and to mold them into becoming good and responsible Christians capable of giving themselves in service to the Church and society.
But the Sisters cannot achieve these worthy endeavors by themselves alone. They need our help. This time, they are the ones knocking at our heart’s doors, seeking our support as they labor to raise the girls at Casa Cittadini into young women who would bring praise and honor to God’s name.
These girls have known nothing but adversity all throughout their early years. The Ursuline Sisters came to make them feel God’s love by nurturing them with their mothers’ hearts. Let us help them continue doing this noble task.
We can be a mission sponsor or partner. As partners, we can donate as low as one hundred pesos monthly. It may not be much, but if there were ten of us, the amount we will put together will be enough to feed one girl for one month.
The Ursuline Sisters may be reached through the following numbers: +6335 2261160 and +6335 2250318. Please ask for Sister Molly.
Or you may email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit their website http://philippineweb.net/aa_casacittadini/index.php