“You deserve presents but thank you so much because what you have done is the other way around; you took the time to give us a generous donation. In the history of Sanma Education Office, this is the first ever contribution (donation) that anyone has given us in the form of money, funds,” said Marcelle Bomwel, Vanuatu’s Ministry of Education representative, upon receiving a donation check of 400,000 Vanuatu Vatu (VUV) or around $4,000 from the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) through the Ecclesiastical District of Australia East.
Days leading to and days after October 31, 2021, the birthday of the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, all of the Church’s ecclesiastical districts in 159 countries and territories the world over conducted outreach activities under the project “Worldwide Lingap sa Mamamayan (Aid to Humanity)” spearheaded by the Church’s humanitarian arm, Felix Y. Manalo (FYM) Foundation, Inc. Here follows a glimpse of the most recent humanitarian activity of the Church:
The Ecclesiastical District of Australia East conducted its Aid to Humanity at the Grandstand, Independence Park, Port Vila, Vanuatu, wherein 1,000 food parcels were given to people from different villages there, in addition to the Church’s handing over of donation checks to the Ministry of Health in Espiritu Santo, Ministry of Education, and the Vanuatu Society for People with Disability (VSPD), each receiving 400,000 VUV. Vanuatu is in the South Pacific.
VSPD executive director, Elison Bovu, said, “We give our deepest thanks to the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, for reaching out and helping people here in Vanuatu. This marks the first time that a donation came from (a Church) and we are so honored … We will use it to serve our people, especially those who really need help.” Mayor Allan Awa of Luganville Municipality said, “I salute you, Brother Eduardo Manalo, for the good heart that you have for the people of Vanuatu, reflects love—the love that God has for all of us.”
Through the Ecclesiastical District of Australia West, the Church Of Christ turned over to the Governor of Papua New Guinea’s National Capitol District, Mr. Powes Parkop, truckloads of food, hygienic products, and clothes. These, the governor said, will be distributed to the various suburbs and communities of indigent people greatly affected by the pandemic. On behalf of his constituents, he said, “A difficult time for all the people. Even the government is facing hard times, economy slows down, money slows down, companies have no capacity to help people, and this kind of help from the Church makes me happy, because this Church helps and supports the government. Thank you for this wonderful timely gesture.”
Burundi in east-central Africa is said to be the world’s poorest country. For its residents, the Church distributed through the Ecclesiastical District of Northern Africa 15,000 relief packages. “[This is] something very encouraging because there still are people who have the heart to help others … who are on another side of the world, something which gives hope for humanity,” said Arielle Kaneza, event organizer.
The district also held Aid to Humanity at Jahad Basic School, Khartoum, Sudan. Its 300 residents received food parcels. “This is very important because it is for the community’s sake. I thank you very much for this,” said Mohammed Hassan, master head teacher.
In the Ecclesiastical District of Southern Africa, the Church handed over 10,000 food parcels in Ha Fochane, Kestell, Mbombela (formerly Nelspruit), Petrusburg, Qwaqwa, Thaba Nchu, Tembisa, Tugela, Ladybrand and Manyatseng in South Africa, Mafete in Kingdom of Lesotho, as well as in Zambia.
In King William’s Town, all parcels were turned over to the Lion’s Club, a non-government organization. “It is something really spectacular and special. I have never encountered it before, and we are so appreciative to the Church for having identified us as a suitable organization to do this, and we will certainly make excellent use, we will ensure that these food parcels get distributed to the people who are most in need,” said its president, Keith Thompson.
Church members in Cape Town collaborated with a local radio station, so that many more from underprivileged communities would be informed about the distribution of hundreds of food parcels. The Sheet Metal Project in Petrusburg, an institution that employs differently abled persons, received over 100 food parcels for their employees and their families.
India and Thailand districts
The Church handed aid in two venues: NVRC Convention Center, Tenali and Ramachandrapuram, Kakinada, India on the occasion of the Executive Minister’s birthday. More than 10,000 Indians benefited from both venues. “I feel very happy. The event done by the Church Of Christ is very good,” said Bikshavathi Devarakonda, a recipient.
Led by Thailand Ecclesiastical District supervising minister, Brother Willen Regalado, Church members went to Beung Yitho Municipality to conduct there their Aid to Humanity event. Its mayor, Rang Nankhawong, said, “We have 300 isolated citizens, which we have to send cooked food … sources are limited, and people are only managing to support themselves due to the state that the pandemic put us in. I feel very grateful for the donations from the [FYM] foundation which is on its second year [here].”
Church members from the Ecclesiastical District of Northwest California conducted Aid to Humanity at Antioch City, California, and in Filipino Senior Resource Center at downtown San Francisco, California. Philippine Consul General, Neil Ferrer, said, “It is very important for the community to understand the impact [of the pandemic] and to be united in helping each other.” Liwayway Gonzales, a recipient, enthused, “This blanket is very useful for me because in my place it’s very cold … You know the seniors have too many pains. Thank you.”
Its neighboring District of Northeast California turned over relief packages to local food banks. Zachary Jones, director of Parks & Recreation in Lathrop, California, said, “Nobody gets through this [crisis] alone. We all need help and support … It’s great to see groups coming together, that’s what makes the community strong.”
In Southern California, brethren from the Ecclesiastical District of Los Angeles County gave aid in the form of backpacks filled with school supplies and monetary donation to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. Program Manager Dominique Robinson shared, “We have 30,000 being served, and so the needs are great. The money that’s being donated is vital.”
“Not only in Germany, but also Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Zurich, Switzerland,” said Brother Ricardo Adalla, Central Europe Ecclesiastical District supervising minister, to be the venues of their Aid to Humanity events. “I really feel at-home, as if I’ve known people for such a long time. I am really welcomed,” said Dianne Panganiban, guest, being among those treated to a musical program before the giving of aid. Western Europe Ecclesiastical District, on the other hand, held Aid to Humanity events in various venues at Paris, France.
Brethren from Milan and Bologna, being the two different geographical areas of the Italy North Ecclesiastical District, turned over relief packages to the Banco Alimentare (Food Bank) in Via Papa Giovanni XXIII 17/19 Muggiò, and at the Food Bank of Imola in Via Zello, Emilia Romagna, respectively. Representatives of both food banks thanked the Church Of Christ for this humanitarian act to the communities in the Italian territory.
The Ecclesiastical District of Ottawa handed over 800 relief packages each at the Centennial Arena in Halifax on October 9, and the Dollar Cinema, Greater Montreal on October 29. The next day, October 30, the district donated to the Rideau Region’s Moisson Outaouias, a non-profit organization working hand-in-hand with local food banks. “Because we get [Church’s aid] free, we give for free. That’s the only resources that we’re left during the pandemic to feed the people,” said its executive director, Armand Kayolo.
In Southern Ontario Ecclesiastical District, the brethren held their Aid to Humanity in three consecutive days, October 25 to 27, in seven venues, namely, Burlington Food Bank and London Food Bank; Brampton and Mississauga; Hamilton Food Bank, Niagara Falls, and Georgetown Bread Basket.
Meanwhile, the Ecclesiastical District of British Columbia donated 250 relief packages to the Lookout Housing and Health Society, a local charitable organization in Surrey that “offers housing solutions to individuals in our community that don’t have a lot of options. It’s just amazing that you have the initiative to go worldwide,” said Troy Balderson, manager. Along with these goods, five shelters of the said organization also received monetary donations through a turn-over ceremony held at the compound of the newly-renovated house of worship of the Local Congregation of Surrey.
For the Ecclesiastical District of Central, the Dumagat tribe of the mountainous Sitio Kalusong, Rodriguez, Rizal, that is 25 kilometers or 10-hour trek from the Local Congregation of Saguingan, was the intended beneficiary of their Aid to Humanity. A Dumagat resident, Danilo Acayan Sr., said, “Thank you so much in providing aid for us. Though we live far, in the mountains, and going here is so hard, yet you still reached out to us.”
“Being at home for more than three months means we can’t earn to feed for our family. Even when lockdown ceased a bit, we may be allowed to go outside, yet still, there are no people outside, so how can we be able to provide for our family?” said Mercy Bensurto, vendor. Later that day, she was among those whom benefited from thousands of relief packages that the Ecclesiastical District of Quezon City turned over to Brgy. Commonwealth, QC.
QC brethren also gave aid to all the residents of Sitio Bakal, Brgy. Bagong Silangan, QC. Though enjoying a tranquil view of the nature, farming and fishing as their source of livelihood, but lack of food and without electricity, among other basic needs, residents are all the more deprived by the current pandemic.
“We prepared 10,000 relief packages primarily to our fellowmen who either lost their job or in severe financial straits,” said Brother Alfonso Rico, Maynila Ecclesiastical District supervising minister. The brethren, led by ministers, and ministerial workers, gave such bounteous aid in three venues, namely Baseco, Magsaysay, and H. Lopez Blvd.
The goal of reaching their far-flung brethren and nonmembers led Church members from the Ecclesiastical District of Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro to conduct Aid to Humanity from October 28 to 31. One such distant place is Brgy. Maragooc, Gloria, Oriental Mindoro. “Going here is hard, but even so, our fellow brethren strove to reach out to us. Brother Eduardo Manalo always remember us by launching these socio-civic activities. What they preach is true: Church members are also afflicted, but God will always find a way to alleviate our plight,” said Mamerta Luis.
The Ecclesiastical District of Naga City, Camarines Sur chose the frontliners from CamSur Incident Management Team for Covid Response as the primary recipients of their Aid to Humanity program held at Capitol Convention Center, Pili, Camarines Sur, while in every local congregation of the district the Church members were also given together with their neighbors who are nonmembers.
A worldwide endeavor
Just like the districts mentioned above, other districts in various countries worldwide reached out to the communities in need, even those in far-flung areas. Inspired by the leadership of Brother Eduardo Manalo, the Executive Minister, and in unity with his endeavor to obey God’s command to help those who are in need, all for God’s glory, members of the Church Of Christ moved as one to realize a humanitarian activity that is indeed worldwide in scope.
Brother Sheridohn Santos, district supervising minister of Southern Africa, pointed out what this activity means to everyone involved. He said, “It is able to give inspiration not only to the one receiving, but even to the one giving—and all of that have been provided to us by these kinds of activities have been brought about by the Church Administration. So, we thank God, and the Church Administration for such activities, that continue to not only share our Christian concern for others but is also able to edify us even more as members of the Church Of Christ.” — With reports from INC News Section