It is very amazing to note how a Nigerian Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr. Martin Okafor-Ilozue is touching lives in the Philippines, Southeast Asia by organizing women livelihood program and computer studies for the Youth of Barangay T. Padilla, Cebu City.
Fr. Ilozue who is the Chaplain in-charge of the Spiritan Catholic Center Foundation Inc., said that in a milestone that signifies what the Spiritan Congregation is all about, his Center has been working for the poorest of the poor in the country and through it, they have started meaningful programs for the poor women of the Barangay.
The barangay his group is working in is an urban poor area of Cebu City with more than 16,000 people living in an area not more than three hectares of land. And it needs to be noted that in the Philippines, the area where they are located is popularly known as “squatters,” – a place where many poor people “live on top of each other” in a crowded place.
Arch. Ralota Offered big Classroom
The Center that Fr. Ilozue started in July of 2008 for mainly young people was expanded in July of 2010 to include women and that was made possible when the Barangay officials through their Captain, Arch. Ralota offered them a big classroom for use.
Speaking on the wonderful landmarks the Center has achieved, he said they have also tried micro-financing for the women, and that it recorded some relative amount of success, but now they are investing in training women on how to sew and produce ice cream.
As an evidence of their untiring labor of love, the Rev. Fr. observed that the women today are able to sew rags, which is popular in the Philippines, and this was made possible by the many left over old clothing donated to them after the fire incidence that devastated the entire area last August of 2010.
According to Fr. Ilozue, more than 40 women joined in the program and that they are grouped into four independent teams. “The Center with the help of one Mam Arlene a Filipina from New Jersey purchased five electric sewing machines which are being used by the women.
”“They are responsible for the cutting, sewing, and the selling of their produce, and each team has their leadership,” Fr. Ilozue stated.
He noted that the money realized from the sales is always divided among the beneficiaries stressing that the administration of the Center is always there to help them get organized and also with the initial resources needed, like the start-up capital and many others.
Center to Keep the Women in Check
Fr. Ilozue said the Center will keep the women in check to avoid having problems among themselves. “Also we will make sure that they get necessary help needed to keep their group going.”
On ice cream making, he noted that 30 women took part in a seminar of which production will start anytime the equipment needed for the production is provided adding that the Center is becoming a lively place with lots of people going there to do one thing or the other to earn something for their family.
He stated: “The youth are not left behind, on the 30th of April, we started computer training program meant for out-of-school youth groups in the barangay. Thanks to the out-reach program of University of Cebu, two staff are available, Ms Emily and Sir Hubert, every Saturday to train those interested in different programming to enable them to find a job.”
Fr. observed that at present they have more than 20 computers for the training and that this was made possible by the kind donations by the Stuttgart Diocese, Germany and Ivory Printing Iligan, “And I hope that more young adults will join and benefit from it. In addition to learning the use of Computer, they will learn English language to be conducted by Ms Amabelle."
The Center Hopes to Continue its Sponsorship Program
He stated: “This school year, the Center hopes to continue its sponsorship program of providing school uniforms, books and school fees to deserving primary and secondary students. Last year 2010/11, we sponsored 29 children. This year 2011/12 already we hope to sponsor 15 grade pupils, thanks to Pinoys in Illinois and 20 high school kids. The Center depended on help from donors to continue this noble project.”
Fr. Ilozue informed that his Center provides seminars, recollections and counseling to these women and children and also instructs them on the Catholic faith using bible and catechism books. “This is regarded as a form of evangelism among the people as most of them are not committed Catholics.”
According to him, the Center has at present three working students (two high schools and one vocational) and a secretary to keep it going by maintaining the place and taking care of the equipment.
He stated: “All these would not be possible if not for the kindness of some people who contribute monthly or annually toward the running of the Center and also stipends coming from the masses celebrated by the Director.
”He continued: “It gives joy to serve by giving hope to the hopeless, join us in these noble efforts to put smile on people’s faces and make a difference in their lives.”
To connect with Rev. Fr. Ilozue, write to: http://mailto:email@example.com