St. Hannibal Empowerment Centre

St. Hannibal Empowerment Center (SHEC) is a religious organization of the Rogationists of the Heart of Jesus. It is a community of Spirit-led persons which aims to follow Jesus Christ in his union with his Father and in his proclamation of the kingdom of God. It is an inserted community among the squatters. The goal of SHEC is to empower the poor people of Metro Manila, Philippines, through housing, livelihood, education, health, waste management, youth and values formation.

Location: Pasay City, Metro Manila

Mission: Its mission is to empower the poorest of the poor and catalyze an integral Christian transformation of urban poor communities in collaboration with the local Church by a holistic process that addresses concerns on housing, livelihood, education, health, environment and sanitation, justice and peace, youth formation and values formation. The goals of SHEC consist of assisting in alleviating poverty among urban poor communities in Pasay and other cities in Metro Manila; and building the foundation of community transformation through intensive values formation. Its objectives are, specifically, to facilitate the organization and formation of people’s organization that are self-sufficient and empowered, facilitate the values and spiritual formation and capability building of urban poor leaders, to assist the urban poor / informal settlers of Pasay and other cities in Metro Manila in realizing their dreams of achieving security of tenure through in-city relocation, to facilitate the implementation of economic programs and basic social services in urban poor communities, and to facilitate access to formal education in favor of the poor and deserving students.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Community Organizing- challenging yet exciting!!!

I would like to share some reflections and insights on my experiences as a social work intern in St. Hannibal Empowerment Center (SHEC), especially in Barangay 152, Pasay City. I divide my reflection into three sections; first, I will share my outer and inner journey, second my journey with the group and then my specific learning points.

1. My outer and inner journey
As my fieldwork II began, I knew that my adventure has begun also. I would journey to the “unknown”. I said the “unknown” because I did not know the place, the people I worked with, nor the agency. One thing I knew exactly was I would meet many new things. These always had two sides: challenging yet exciting.
The immersion was the first thing I did. This was a time to have acquaintance with and to build a relationship with the people. A question came to my mind “How can I do the immersion without Tagalog?” To be able to speak the people’s language was important, but above all to be faithful in spending time with the people was the most important thing. I was welcomed warmly in their simple houses. The local leaders helped me a lot. I really had a great time with them. I talked with them, sat in their cariendera, and even stood and chatted in front of their junk shop. I felt that I was accepted. My heart always leapt for joy every time I pass by their house and their children called my name. It did not happen in two or three days. It really needed time. I have learned that taking things slowly makes things grow naturally.
I joined the agency’s meetings, such as strategic planning meeting, Board of Directors meeting, and General Assembly. I saw the members were very active in participation and full of enthusiasm. Their spirits touched my heart. I have learned a lot on how to accompany people. I have learned that to catch people’s attention, the worker has to begin from their interest (in this case, housing). I have to understand and accept who they are and the way they do things. It needs a big and open heart to leave expectations behind.
Value formation was another thing I was impressed by. In every meeting, a silent prayer was used to begin. After that they connected the passage from the gospel with their daily lives. It was like a “living Gospel”. In our weekly meeting, Fr. Dexter would share with us about Jesus’ mission. We based our sharing on a book “Backpack of Jesus Seeker”. We tried to understand two essentials of Jesus; first, Jesus was connected with the Source and second, Jesus poured Himself out in mission for total salvation. It underlined my own experience that to be channel of God’s love to others, I should be connected with the “SOURCE”. By having an inner relationship with God, I would have a peaceful heart, see the problem clearer, solve it creatively and be more effective in working with the people.
As time passed by, I realized that being a community organizer will be my choice in the future.

2. My journey with the group
I was not alone in my journey. I had two companions, Geraldine and Ate Lina. They were my translators on many occasions. Our team went on smoothly. Each one of us tried her best to build a group relationship. It did not mean that there was no difficulty. We came from different backgrounds. We have unique personalities. As a group, we experienced a stage of group development. We adjusted to each other, tried to understand and accept one another’s limitations.
It was not easy. I had my own expectations. Sometimes I was frustrated when something did not happen as we have scheduled it. The key was communication. I could reach a point of understanding and acceptance by taking a risk to speak out my feelings.
Communication was really important in working as a group. We worked together, shared our feelings, laughed together and supported each other. I really felt blessed that I was in this group. I enjoyed our time together; and I treasured it. Our unique personalities enriched our relationship.

3. My specific learning points

My experience doing CO work in SHECC enriched my spiritual and social awareness. The following are some of my specific learning points:
· Open all senses in immersion
· Work on an issue which is the concern to the community
· Build a good relationship with people in power.
· Include people in doing planning.
· Learn to accept and face different cultures and personalities.
· Embrace my own weaknesses and share my strengths.

I have walked with many people, so I am not the same anymore. We have transformed each other’s lives.

(I would like to say thanks a million to Geraldine and Ate Lina for being my companions in doing fieldwork, to all SHEC staff, SHACC leaders and members, Leaders and Members of barangay 152, my deep gratitude especially to my supervisors, Prof. Gina Yap and Fr. Dexter Prudenciano RCJ. I thank God that I have met all of you on my journey. You have contributed to my personal and professional growth.)

By Sister Emiliana Beta, FCJ


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