An Open Letter to My Filipino Sisters and Brothers

Dear Filipino Sisters and Brothers…

My participation in the Global Justice Volunteer (GJV) program over the summer of 2012 has been another great opportunity to learn, grow, serve and make adjustments in my personal life. Especially, being placed in the Philippines was the most awesome thing that ever happened to me in my service to humankind as a youth worker and young people leader.

My time with the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP) has led me through a wave of learning, sharing, unlearning and adapting new concepts, experiencing, making relationships, and a deal of fun as well. I have come to understand that the NCCP serves as the conscience of the Filipino nation.  In the Philippines, I was fortunate to have learned, shared and served in Metro Manila area, often giving support to advocacy activities for the sake of brothers and sisters that are unfortunately found on the margins of the Filipino nation; I mean the marginalized, the oppressed, the poor and less fortunate, the homeless and jobless, the victims of human rights violation and abuse, the victims of extra judicial killings, etc. I worked at the very grassroot level with people’s organizations like KATRIBU, KARAPATAN, KKKP, PCPR and non-governmental organizations like the Norwegian Mission Alliance of the Philippines (NMAP), through the NCCP. This service allowed me to serve Filipinos through empowering communities and sectors (service integrated advocacy) and supporting community development projects in order to assist them take charge of their own development.  I stood in solidarity and accompanied the people in their struggles – this is living the concept of striving for peace through fighting injustice.

Beside the Metro Manila area, I treasure in my heart the affectionate residents of Malibago, the contended and united folks of Payanas (Marinduque), and the people of Nayon (Rizal) who are striving to concretize the socio-economic system of their village for a sustainable livelihood. Working and dwelling with these people made me gain a good insight of the Filipino culture as well. I saw a lot of cultural similarities with us, Africans. And if I mention the great and abundant food, least to speak of the fun, then I will confess that the Philippines is also my home. I arrived in the Philippines meeting and making friends, but I left the Philippines leaving behind families.

Brethren of the Philippines, in my experiences, I learnt that the manner and form of community service offered makes better and effective impact because they are people-driven and people-focused; I have come to understand that unlimited access to the land by the Indigenous people (IP’s) and farmers give them a sense of belonging and ownership, a tactical factor for peace. Unfortunately, our sisters and brothers in the Philippines who are wholly dependent on the land as an asset for livelihood are being deprived. Either they are killed, displaced, abused or threatened because they oppose the taking over of their land by foreign investors or affluent and wealthy compatriots.

I appreciate and have seen the advantage of the “with” approach of mission work, it is a demonstration of “in union strong, success is sure”. Though the struggles of the people continue and the journey seems long.  The level of impact may made through the various advocacies and empowerment of people may seem small but viewed from a united front, when you add them all up, I can testify that it still makes a significant difference.  That is why I pay tribute to the souls of the likes of Jimmy Liguyon, William Geertman, and all those who laid down their lives for the sake of peace and justice.

For me, this is a revolution.  A non-violent revolution intended to make the dams of extra judicial killings and enforced disappearance break out; a revolution that has no military characteristics but will bring about disciplined nonconformists (the very Filipinos) who are dedicated to justice, peace and the Filipino brotherhood and sisterhood. Similarly, it draws my thoughts on my motherland (Liberia), and the rest of Africa – strive for peace, better livelihood, fight poverty, resist the state of kids living unpromising lives as child soldiers, malnutrition, etc. Where is the justice of political power if it does not punish the murderer and jail the plunderer; and then march upon neighboring lands, killing thousands and adding to the many problems of the people of a nation?

I close this summer service with a motivation and new innovation to commit to serving the United Methodist young people’s ministries of the Liberia Annual Conference, as well as my community through our community-based youth organization. I dream of opportunities to be empowered to do ministry with people striving to push away the bars of injustices through community service. The GJV program resounds God’s call to continue the ministry of Jesus Christ – setting the ‘captives’ free and standing with the poor and needy, which is the demonstration of God’s love.

May the Love of God continue to abide with you, my fellow Filipinos…for we shall meet soon.

Maraming Salamat! (thank you very much)

Fred

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By: Fred Sayeh, Global Justice Volunteer 2012 June-August
A Youth Leader in the Methodist Church in Liberia, and was a GJV in the Philippines, placed in the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP)

Global Justice Volunteer is a program of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) and the Women’s Division of the United Methodist Church (UMC) for young people who would like to offer their summer time at the different church and church related institutions in service, working for peace and justice.

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