VFCAP meets in the Philippines
The meeting of the Vincentian Family Collaborative Action Program took place in January in the Philippines. AIC had already attended a meeting in June in Paris and this time three representatives from Vietnam and four from the Philippines participated.
Imelda, President of AIC-Philippines, gives her account: “It was a very enriching experience, I am glad we were able to attend. We had good facilitators and very attentive participants. The whole experience was highly satisfactory. Right now, we are busy preparing for the Pope’s visit.”
A Father from the Congregation of the Mission emphasized that the theme of collaboration came through more strongly than in previous sessions, perhaps because of the “collective” culture in Asia which contrasts with the more “individualist” culture in Europe and the USA. The support of the leaders of the Vincentian Family was also distinctly felt. The VFCAP experience is moving from continent to continent, exactly as originally envisaged.
The Philippines after the Tsunami
After the tsunami that cost thousands of lives, Imelda Torres, President of AIC-Philippines gives us news from this devastated country where the reconstruction work necessary is enormous.
Imelda emphasizes the immense solidarity effort among Filipinos but also from all over the world. She is worried however that the donations will dry up. The priorities are to reconstruct buildings and especially the lives of those that have lost their close ones and their jobs. The political situation is also problematic. The donations from government agencies for AIC’s old people’s homes have stopped and these homes have been damaged by the typhoon. The AIC volunteers are also working to repair and render usable the classrooms in a school.
Visit to AIC Vietnam
Anne Sturm and Rose de Lima Ramanankavana visited AIC Vietnam March 18 to March 23 2013. For Anne it was the second visit, for Rose it was a completely new experience. This six day visit was a very good opportunity to meet friends again, to strengthen links and to see the substantial development of a young and growing association of AIC. (Obviously there was not enough time to visit all the groups and to really get to know the whole association). As is the case throughout the world, the volunteers in Vietnam are committed to helping disadvantaged groups, especially elderly women who are poor and on their own, who have lost their husbands in wars and their children through emigration. In addition, as can be seen throughout Asia, you realise the crucial role played by education, and there too they are engaged in helping the poorest of the poor: disabled children and young people (sometimes poisoned by Dioxin because of fertiliser or war), street children, poor or indigenous families. We were also impressed by the commitment of volunteers in the older groups in Saigon and Vinh Long creating, training and helping new groups in the poorest, most isolated regions and also by the excellent collaboration within the Vincentian Family, especially with the Sisters and the priests. During the AIC Assembly in Bangkok we discussed Education, a two-way process - Educating ourselves to work together. The visit to Vietnam was the concrete implementation of that. Anne Sturm and Rose de Lima Ramanankavana
AIC Taiwan, full right member:
AIC Taiwan has been admitted as full-right member during the AIC Assembly 2013. An important delegation took part in the assembly, with a lot of dynamism and joy of life.
AIC Taiwan has been working for more than 15 years, with aborigine population, mainly in the South of the island. There are 85 members at present. Some centers welcome children for their school work, and also women and elderly people.
During her visit to the association after the AIC International Assembly, Laurence de La Brosse, international president, had the opportunity to visit the main AIC-Taiwan centers, meet the volunteers and the social workers and admire the show of songs and traditional dances given by the elderly.
Congratulations to AIC-Taiwan!
AIC Visits China with the Vincentian family
Representatives of A.I.C. Laurence de la Brosse, the International President, Natalie Monteza, the International Secretary, and Aliette de Maredsous, representative of A.I.C. to the UN and other international agencies and Vincentian Marian Youth visited Hong Kong and China from November 14th to the 25th accompanied by members of the Chinese province of the Congregation of the Mission. The invitation was to “come and see.” The remarkable rise of China on the global stage in the last quarter of a century has replaced the image of China treasured in the hearts and imaginations of many Vincentians and Daughters since the middle of the nineteenth century. It is time to come and meet the ordinary people of China, people with whom the Vincentian Family can feel perfectly at home. By all accounts we met them. Their faces, smiles and laughter, and tears too, are embedded in the imaginations and hearts of each member of the group.
The pilgrimage - we thought of it that way - began in Hong Kong, where the Vincent de Paul Society, which has 30 active and dynamic conferences, introduced the group to their work in Hong Kong and explained the conditions for their initiatives in China. Their hospitality was exceptional. Coming in contact with the vitality of the Church in Hong Kong, particularly in its social outreach, was an unexpected blessing. Being the only branch of the Vincentian Family in Hong Kong, they were glad to welcome other members of the Vincentian Family and invited future collaboration.
In Beijing, we got in touch with the Vincentian story by visiting the four historic churches, commonly known as the North, South, East and West churches. The group attended the 8:30 Sunday morning mass at the South Cathedral dedicated to Our Lady. It was in Chinese, of course, though there are other masses in English later in the morning. The church was full, the liturgy beautifully celebrated and we experienced the fervor and faith of the people, young and old.
The time available did not allow us to travel much, but in our travels we met so many wonderful, Chinese people, young and old, rich and poor. It was meeting the people that made all the difference. They must have sensed we were happy to be with them, because on every occasion they welcomed us warmly. Many were happy to have their pictures taken with the group. Someone remarked that it would be the faces of the people that will stay with us for the longest time.
One of our goals was to understand as much as could about the lives of people. We learned about the care of the elderly by visiting two homes for the elderly staffed by sisters, where the care was warm and personal and the elderly fully alive. It was a joy to be with them. On one occasion also we met some elderly people in their dwellings living in deep poverty. They were being helped by small groups of Catholics from a nearby parish. Remarkably their spirits were serene, even joyful, in spite of everything.. The impression was profound, some would say transforming. It will take time to absorb fully this experience
In particular, the A.I.C. and V.M.Y. members were eager to know about the lives and challenges of women and young people. We were fortunate that on several occasions the women and young people we met shared their stories and experiences with the group. One woman shared she was the only one in her family that was Catholic and her family did not want her to spread the Gospel. Her courage to do so in the face of this kind of “loneliness” was a beautiful example of real faith.
In the end, people made all the difference. The people in the group, the people we met and the people who helped us. The Chinese have a saying, “At home rely on your parents and family and outside rely on your friends.” Our friends in Hong Kong and China made all the difference. In one of the poorest dwellings, an old man, whose wife had passed away some years ago, prepared dumplings by himself to welcome us. They all taught us what hospitality and friendship look like in a Chinese setting.
The A.I.C. members were Laurence de la Brosse, the International President, Natalie Monteza, the International Secretary, and Aliette de Maredsous, representative of A.I.C. to the UN and other international agencies. The V.M.Y. members were Yasmine Cajuste, the International President, Novita Nursaina from Indonesia and Joshua Rey Albarina, the President of V.M.Y. in the Philippines. The team was made up of Vincentian Fathers John Wang,, Pawel Wierzbicki, and Hugh O'Donnell and Sister Madeleine Fitzpatrick, RSHM.
AIC-Japan : annual concert in favour of Haiti
AIC Japan Wakayama Unit has for the past 5 years held its annual concert to benefit Asia’s underprivileged children.
This year after hearing of the news of the earthquake in Haiti and seeing its terrible aftermath, we thought of doing something that might be of help, however small. So this 6th annual concert was held to benefit the earthquake victims.
This year, many people came on June 5. Thanks to the cooperation and understanding of everyone. The concert was a success and was a big blessing for AIC. For the sake of the concert, Fr. Joe has always offered his church (Yakatamachi) as venue for the concert. Through the cooperation of the Yakatamachi Catholic Church, Furuya Catholic Church, Imafuku Catholic Church, Aitoku Kindergarten, DC, and AIC members, all tickets were sold out. Through the boundless energy and time of VinCE Foundation staff, the printing of the programs and tickets were made possible. The SSVP members helped in welcoming guests and directing traffic and parking. AIC Japan Kobe and VinCE members came from so far away to the concert.
The charity concert was one family, the Vincentian Family working in the spirit and empowerment of St. Vincent and St. Louise de Marillac. Thanks to more than 200 people who attended the concert, the volunteers and the musicians who played the marimba, the flute, the harp respectively and the 4 trombone players. The audience enjoyed and responded enthusiastically and with the dedication, understanding, cooperation and sincerity of everyone, and even the weather cooperating, it was a concert enveloped in love.
After subtracting expenses like transportation for the musical instruments which is the only request from the musicians, snacks and drinks etc., a total of 474,000 yen will be donated to Haiti through the Disaster Fund of AIC Int’l. We would be happy if it would be of help. God bless us all and the AIC International for all the work they do in many countries for the sake of the poor, the marginalized and the underprivileged.
AIC JAPAN Wakayama Unit
AIC Asia meeting in Bangkok (Thaïland) AIC Asia : meeting in Bangkok, November 6 – 8, 2009
21 representatives from the 6 Asian AIC member associations (Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Indonesia and Taiwan) met in Bangkok for their second regional conference, among them Sisters from Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan and AIC Thailand spiritual Advisor Fr.Benito Enano. Presentations on “Identity and role of AIC volunteers”, and “Systemic Change applied to local projects” by Anne Sturm, AIC Past-President and “The Role of Spiritual Advisers to AIC” by Rev. Fr. Manuel Ginete CM, Spiritual Adviser, alternated with the report of AIC Asia Animator Beatriz Pabito (Philippines) and the exchange of experiences, questions and answers and discussions. A bazaar was organized by AIC Thailand, to present the beautiful products created by women in AIC projects.
A particular mention for the inventiveness, the perfect organization, and the warm atmosphere of friendship showed by AIC Asia throughout the meeting.
The young people take over
The association has been established since 2003. The principal characteristics of the existing AIC groups on the island are to be able to count on volunteers of all ages. Young and old, age is not a problem. The elderly wish to conserve their independence, thanks to a small source of income, while the young must face high unemployment and a difficult local economy. The projects reach all ages: improved education for destitute women, courses on sex education and computer skills for the young, visiting of the sick and elderly, rebuilding of houses in isolated areas, repair of housing… All these projects are being carried out, and the future is to train the local volunteers in each community, to motivate the young to be an AIC volunteer, also to utilise the Internet, and reinforce various partnerships within the Church, the communities and the government.