(Article by Jizza Magallanes-Malquisto)
“God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered.”
This message in Deuteronomy 30:3 echoes all throughout the last three months of Relief Follow-Up Intervention conducted by IT Tender to the families of Napocor who lost their homes due to the fire and to the families of Upper Sucat who need to leave their homes due to demolition. Before we see the incredible resiliency of these people and the powerful grace of God, allow us to share the memoirs and testimonies of some of those people who overcame such terrible tragedy and also the personal experiences of the IT Tender Staff.
“We thought it was a typical Wednesday morning as we were doing our errands at the office. The news made us rush towards the overpass near IT Tender where the people of the Napocor community were told to gather. A fire had struck the area and all the houses in Napacor were gone. Our team was met with embraces from the weeping mothers who shared the bad news that all of their possessions were gone.”
– Jizza Magallanes-Malquisto, Program Manager and Social Worker
It is at this point that the ministry saw how deep its relationship with the community is. They do not just see us as a partner or a resource in sending their children to school, but as FAMILY. So together we go through the pain of loss, but we never lose sight of the God who holds everything in His hands. While IT Tender carried out relief operations and opened the center as a temporary shelter for the mothers with babies and small children, we saw how resourceful the people in Napocor are. They made formal petitions to the government for assistance. In less than a couple of weeks, all of the 50 families were able to find new homes through the help of the local government of Muntinlupa. But the real challenge began once they settled in their new homes, because after so many years of “squatting”, now they have to pay rent. The following are the experiences and praises shared by four families from Napocor to give us an insight of what the people went through and how the Relief Follow-Up Intervention of IT Tender assisted them in their new beginning.
“At first, I was so afraid and worried about where my children would live because I am a single parent. IT Tender was there to help us during and after the fire. They assisted us in starting a small store which is a very big help for us in order to survive and provide for our daily needs and pay our rent. We are very thankful to God and we praise Him for being there always. Thank you very much.”
– Precila, single mother of 4 children
“I was panicking during the fire. The first thing I said is, “Lord, my children!” It just so happened that I was at the market during the time of the fire. When I saw my children, I cried and thanked God because they were safe. I also want to thank God for using a lot of people to help us. Because of them we now have our own new house. I pray that God will return all the blessing to IT Tender and to its donors. We praise the Lord Jesus because He is always there for my family and He never fails to provide for our needs.”
– Abelina, mother of 5 children
“I remembered that my mother was urging me to wake up, which was unusual. She shouted at me to run because there’s a fire. So I immediately ran down the stairs and even forgot to put on sandals. I tried to go back to our house to retrieve some things but there was too much smoke, and we also heard an explosion caused by the gas tank of our neighbour. My mother asked me to watch over my younger brother because she was trying to get a few clothes. I was starting to see with both my eyes how the fire consumed our house. That’s when I realized how hard it is to lose a home. We were still crying after the fire died down. What added to our pain was that the owner of the electric tower was yelling at us and telling us that we can never go back.
My family and I chose to stand up again after that trial. With God we’re able to prove that we can overcome all sorts of problems. I am so glad that we are part of IT Tender. They are the first ones who rescued us and offered us a temporary shelter. A lot of people were helping us, and through IT Tender we were able to receive clothes, hygiene, food and more. No matter what we felt, we knew they are always there to support us. I even cried when I learned that we will have our own store again, and this time it is better than our store in Napacor. From the bottom of my heart, I’m very thankful to IT Tender, to the local government, and to the rest of the people who helped us. I learned to never give up, even when you lose everything. What matters most is your family and also your faith in God.”
– Jericho, 13 years old, Sponsor-A-Child beneficiary
“The fire is a severe trial that I never imagined would happen to my family. It was an ordinary morning for us and we were having our breakfast when we heard our dog barking wildly, and it was very noisy outside. I asked my son to check what was the commotion about. When he came back he was shouting ‘Fire!’ I urgently told my children to go outside while I carried my then 3-month old baby. I was panicking because there was no one to help me. My husband was working. I tried to go back to our house and save important documents. My children were crying. I told them not to be sorry for all the things that we lost but instead be grateful because we are all safe. And having a complete family is priceless. After the fire died down, I couldn’t help but felt depressed when I realized we had lost our home for 15 years.
We stand up again though, and by God’s grace and His love He used a lot of people like the leaders in our community and the local government for us to receive financial help. My children are part of IT Tender which is a very great help for us. Through the organization, I was able to start a small business and also receive assistance in fixing our new house. I praise God because of His goodness, for saving my whole family, and for helping us to start over again.”
– Genelyn, mother of 6 children
Although the Relief Follow-Up Assistance is not part of the regular programs and services of IT Tender, we chose to go beyond what is expected of us. We made sure that we would be with the families every step of the way. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus. With the help of lots of individuals, groups and organizations, the plans of how families would start all over again were made possible. After providing relief assistance to the 50 families in Napocor, the team focused on the 11 families under the Sponsor-A-Child Program. Together with the parents and the staff, we understood that we had to come up with a sustainable solution that would help them in the long run. In less than two months after the fire, the following are the assistances IT Tender provided to the 11 families: 3 families were provided assistance for their new housing, 3 families were provided assistance to start up livelihood initiatives, and 5 families were provided with assistance for both their housing and to start up livelihood initiatives.
Not long after the fire in Napocor, another challenge came to IT Tender. A court order was given to the occupants of the Upper Sucat Community summoning them to leave the area for demolition. Knowing the faithfulness of the Lord, we chose not to be shaken by another great turmoil. We used the same method of Follow-Up Relief to the Sucat families under Sponsor-A-Child and even the former beneficiaries of the said program which amounts to a total of 23 families to work with. But before we give a rundown of the supports the ministry has already rendered, allow us to share a testimony from three of the families who received assistance for their housing.
“When we heard that we are going to be demolished, at first we were worried because there are a lot of things which came into our minds. Where are we going to live? What will happen next? Are my neighbours going to fight back? And with the new school year about to start, how about the children who are studying? Then we remembered that all things are happening because God has a plan and this is only a little challenge for us to know and to see what God can do to our big family. God used people to reach us. With their help we were able to get a new house. We divided the house into three parts for our three families. Through their help, we were able to make it more comfortable than our former homes. These people who made us feel the love of God by assisting us and giving us moral support are the reason why we are able to stand up again and to continue with our lives. I thank God for giving us such a huge blessing that we did not even expect. For His love has no boundaries. We thank God for the lives of the people who helped us in times of struggle. Trusting God and His ways will make us secure always.”
– The Lim-it, Doctor and Rivera Families
By God’s grace and with the amazing generosity of a lot of people, the following is the assistance IT Tender provided to 17 families thus far: 8 families received assistance for new housing, 2 families received assistance for livelihood initiatives, 5 families received assistance for both housing and livelihood initiatives, and 2 families received assistance for them to purchase a small parcel of land. There are still 6 families who are coming up with their plans, while the said 2 families who purchased a small parcel of land are still praying for provisions for the building of their new home and also to start up their own livelihood initiatives. We praise God because we feel that He truly is in charge of everything. We are in awe knowing that there are so many people (more than we can imagine) taking part in assisting so many families regain their strength again and to face this new chapter in their lives. This reminds us of what God did in Job, Chapter 42. Truly, God restores and provides even more than what the families have lost. They received the love and support given by a lot of people and experienced the miraculous ways of the Lord. The team is very blessed to be called to take part in this amazing story.
A New Hope for the Future
(Article by Gabby Malquisto)
I can still remember back in 2008 when IT Tender started reaching out to the Napocor community through a nutrition program. The goal was simply to feed the hungry and reach out to the community. That went on for several years until we finally asked the question: “Are we really transforming the community?” We asked ourselves where all of this was going. Eventually, we found our focus in education, empowering the poor through a range of educational programs for all ages. However, something was still missing.
In April 2016, we started a Bible Study for the mothers of our sponsor children. The Bible Study is not a part of IT Tender’s regular programs, but it is something that us staff decided to do on our weekends. God impressed on us that there must be someone to reach out to the families on a deeper spiritual level, or these souls could be lost forever. The Bible study went on until some young people start coming and accepting Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Also, through the programs of IT Tender such as youth camps, Family Day and youth fellowship, a group of young people emerged and started volunteering at our programs and events such as the Christmas parties and youth gatherings.
In May 2017, we conducted a discipleship seminar from our church for the youth volunteers. Baptism was one of the topics of the seminar. As soon as the youth learned the biblical truth about baptism, seven young people came to us and said they wanted to be baptized because they want to follow Christ. The young people organized their group and planned to save money that they could use to rent a private swimming pool for a baptism event. They each saved ten pesos a day and kept praying that God would provide.
God indeed provided for their baptism, and on July 15th, 2017 not only seven but ten young people were baptized by our church. Ten teenagers followed the will of the Lord through baptism. Ejieboy, one of the young people, testified that he is really a sinner, that he is grateful for God’s grace, and he accepts Christ as his Lord and Saviour. He wants to follow Christ and to grow as a Christian.
One of the young people named Warren was moved to tears and couldn’t even speak at the beginning of his testimony. At a young age he lived in the streets. His mother left them and his father couldn’t even take good care of them. In his testimony his tears explained a lot. These young people who found hope in Christ continue attending the Sunday Bible Study. They are now undergoing continuous discipleship and training in worship-leading where the Lord again provided instruments that they can use. Every Sunday they come early to set up chairs, clean the center and prepare everything for the Bible Study. They invite friends and their parents to attend, and we can see they are really on fire for Christ.
Emily Dickinson wrote a poem entitled “Hope is the thing with feathers”. In their eyes we have seen new hope. Hope that after every storm and struggle God is there, and there is a new morning to come. And this hope of theirs gives us the hope to continue. To go on serving the Lord and not lose hope that one day more people will accept Christ, and hope will be spread and lives changed.
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