Throughout the Philippines, many women face challenges of poverty and hardship. The sisters are engaged in a diverse range of ministries - schools, community development programs and projects in cities and in rural areas across the Philippines.
The focus of their ministry is women: single mothers, women working in prostitution, women subject to domestic violence, slum dwellers, landless farmers, indigenous groups, overseas contract workers and their families, street children.
Since 2012 the sisters have conducted the Ruhama Center for girls and women. Now located in Quezon City, Manila the Center aims to address the needs of girls and women working in prostitution. This includes girls and women who are distressed because of migration, who are abused abroad and are looking for temporary shelter. Clients of Ruhama also include girls suffering sexual abuse within their families.
(See photograph above - Volunteers decorated the counseling room at Ruhama with light colors, upswept trail of leaves and soft pillows with inspirational words to achieve a "healing atmosphere.")
Ruhama is a temporary shelter where the girls can come for refuge. They are referred by the social welfare department, other Good Shepherd agencies, other NGOs. The girls and women are offered educational assistance, counseling and psychotherapy, skills training and development and values formation.
In addition, the center now offers after care program to the former girls who are ready to be integrated to their families or to be in boarding houses with minimal supervision from the sisters while continuing their studies in external schools or universities.
Majority of the girls are enrolled to Alternative Learning System, a program offered by the government and to our own Good Shepherd Open High School.
Ruhama is under the Sisters’ foundation – St. Mary Euphrasia Integrated Development Foundation, Inc. The aim of the foundation is to oversee and monitor our programs to make sure they are legal and are certified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The maximum number of residents at one time is 15.
The girls can be prepared to go back home, if it is safe for them. The message of Good Shepherd programs is: ‘We are here to help you cope and to help you find some alternatives for living your lives.’ That's why skills training and assistance with educational needs are offered.
Click here for more information - Q & A with Sr. Maria Ananita Borbon
[Acknowledgment of N.J. Viehland - a correspondent for Global Sisters Report based in the Philippines.]