An opportunity to grow, to make mistakes and learn from them, and to be part of something bigger than me brings meaning and purpose to my life, writes Carlo Tingson.
Here in the Philippines there is a Nescafé commercial that asks, “Para kanino ka bumabangon?” This translates as, “Who do you wake up for?” It may sound like a simple question, but it prompts a deep answer. It can also be a question of, “What do you hope for?” or “What is the meaning of your life?”
I was 22 when I started to ask these questions and, of course, I didn’t have the answers. I was lost. Mahatma Gandhi said: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Knowing that he lived and died by those words, I believed him.
When my friend Patrisha (niece of Sister Grace Marcelo SGS) told me about the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, what their ministry entails here in Bacolod, and that there was an opening position for a finance officer, I applied immediately. It was as though God was holding up a neon sign saying, ‘THIS WAY’. Long story short, I was hired.
I am grateful to the Sisters because they have given me a chance to grow, to make mistakes and learn from them, and to be part of something bigger than me. I was employed more than two years ago, and I believe that the Sisters gave me more than just a job, they gave me hope, which is what their ministry represents.
I experience joy and fulfilment at seeing how people’s faces light up whenever they receive a hot meal or food packs at the Good Samaritan Outreach Centre. I wake up every day knowing that my work means something. It feels good to know that what I am doing is helping to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
If you are struggling in life, the problems that you face every day can sometimes be paralysing. Feeling helpless to change your situation can make you want to give up.
I think everyone who has experienced the Sisters’ generosity would agree that their ministry is not just about helping people to have access to nutritious food, education or other forms of support; it is also giving them hope.
The feeding program helps to provide the nutrients that the children lack. Because they are not hungry and are healthy, they can go to school and not be pulled by negative influences such as gangs and drugs.
A student in the Good Samaritan Outreach Centre Scholarship Program is more likely to graduate and reach their full potential. Parents who receive skills training or access to capital in order to start a small business are better able to provide for their families and have the chance to have a better life.
There will always be challenges, but the hope for something better, to someday be free from the shackles of poverty, is what sustains us. Having the support of the Good Samaritan community makes life more bearable because it helps us to feel that although things might not be OK, things will be OK.
Another thing that I love about this community is that there is no discrimination. The Good Samaritan did not ask the injured man about his race, religion or sexual orientation; he saw a human being in need first, and he helped.
We all have our differences, but in a world that is more connected and yet ever divided, I pray that we see each other as fellow human beings.
A line in the hymn Amazing Grace sums up my experience: “I once was lost but now I’m found.” I am proud to be part of this inclusive community whose generosity knows no boundaries.
I pray this ministry will continue to provide the fertile ground on which people in need can grow and flourish. Our shared hope is to leave the world a better place than when we found it, to help people realise their hopes and dreams, and to make a positive difference in people’s lives so that, one day, they may also “Go, and do likewise.”