Dear Sponsors,
I write to you after coming back from my missionary experience in the Philippines, where I spent three weeks at the Community of the Missionary Sisters of St. Anthony m. Claret, in Amadeo Cavite and in Manila. From Manila I bring the Thanksgiving greetings from parents and children involved in the project: Adozione a Distanza “Sponsor a chil”. I met them there together with my traveling companion, Manuela, and the Sisters and the novices. It was some unforgettable days.

Moms and dads have expressed very excitedly their desire to express to you all their gratitude for the support that you are giving generously to their children. It was a strong feeling that they felt the presence of Manuela and mine as a bridge that connects you all to them. It was a great encouragement for everyone to realize that coming together is possible.

The first day in Manila we explored the areas: Sitio Lambak, Botocan, Malinis Pook and Pook Sitio Libis. The Sisters had prepared us, telling us the poor housing conditions, overcrowding, many adults unemployed, narrow alleys to reach the families, mud in the pat ways when it rains. Thinking about this and that, I was expecting a visit by stealth and without giving too much in my eye, still with the reassuring presence of the Sisters and the coordinators.

Across the street that separates their area from the community of the Sisters, I felt indeed the difference of the other dimension of the city. No more asphalt but clay, remains of waste in the streets, because even the waste is recycled into something, a few bricks and recovered materials for housing.
When we just turn the corner, the sense of loss vanish in an instant: all children in the project adoptions (Adozione a Distanza) were there waiting, wearing the blue shirts of the Claretian mission, likeable for giving us a wonderful welcome. While there were offering a Garland to put around our neck, our hearts were wearing the Crown of their smiles and their vitality.
They were gathered together, not only to greet me and Manuela, but also to greet each one of you. They want to tell you how they're growing and how many things they do because of you.

Together with the children, they hold our hands, during all the time of our presence among them.
Every moment that I lived there is still here with me in mind: If I was walking along streets and alleys I usually felt an enormous sense of insecurity, but was not the same inside their houses where we were welcomed, where, despite the cramped and very little natural light, he felt strong heat of considerate parents and children and care in their willing to better their poor assets to make "home". Thanks to the joyful presence of children, I avoided the emotional wreck for the poverty and needs that I saw live people and that I could only recognize the existence. For all that I saw and felt, I began to wonder: what can I do to help? How so?

What need to be done must be done together and stay strong and trusting in the goodness and generous capacity that we have. This thoughts allows me to sleep at night without thinking so much at the urgency of what need to be done.
The Missionary Claretian Sisters plan and act with great competence, respect, consistency and maximum is their daily commitment to ensure they spread and consolidate in parents' attitudes likely to promote the physical and psychological well-being, social promotion, self-determination and autonomy. With the Sisters, there are some active and proactive coordinators of the different areas that, with great availability, get together to organize and make themselves as spokesperson when there are things that must be communicated and promoted among all parents involved in the sponsorship project and, in general, among other families living in the areas: many children are already followed up, but many others are waiting. In this sense your strong and decisive presence is felt our dear Sponsors!

During the three evenings in that community, meetings in the zones, with parents and children had followed.
Every evening we had like a party, where young and old took part in offering songs, dances and music. The involvement was great from everyone and there were even moments of sharing and reflection, that have touched my heart deeply.

Listening to the messages of the coordinators, I could capture how these parents need that we visitors didn't stop on the misery of the place where they live, to the drainage canals that flow on the doorstep. These parents, tested by difficulties of every kind, they ask with great dignity and confidence that our eyes could see in them, the determination that they have, in spite of the need to be nurtured and supported.
The feeling of been alone to fight their own battle, to guarantee their children a healthy growth, an upbringing and an education that can enhance the talents, can discourage them and their forces already threatened by disease and by the uncertainties of everyday life.
Keeping alive the thought and attention towards them, it is possible for us to actually do something, even from a distance.

The walls of their homes are fragile: are made of cardboard, sheets and plywood, but rarely by brick; but love is like the cement that strengthens and this cement are photos and framed certificates, which testify to the successful completion of the school year of their children, are the souvenir photos of special moments and achievements, and they smile with pride.

Thanks to your generosity dear Sponsors, the children go to school and, from year to year, the "walls" of families grow stronger. In this process they feel accompanied and wish to return, and they do it by persevering, setting aside shyness and fear, trying to speak during the meetings, by being proactive, and why not, even throwing themselves in a dance during the party.
The receiving and giving is mutual. The parents and their children remind you in their prayer, with much affection. From there a prayer is continually razed to heaven: may God bless you, God Bless!
They deserve to be supported and nurtured even with small signs, able to cross the huge geographical distance that separates us from the Philippines: a letter, a postcard. In the digital age I learned from these families no matter how dear a handwriting on a piece of paper, because that's how I and Manuela have received their thoughts and words of thanks. How I appreciate those small slips of Notepad, now that we are away!

I would like to conclude by recalling the commitment and the faith with which the Sisters and the novices are involved in all aspects of the project, from organizational work at the computer, at schools and visits to different areas, on Sunday and many times as is needed, to correspondence and everything necessary to follow closely and with competence, the education and growth of each child. Children are many, yet each of them, with their family, is very present in the service and care of Sr. Genoveva and the Missionary Sisters of Saint Anthony Mary Claret who are familiar with the events, the needs but also the resources and potential of each family.

To be able to count on your support for long time, is definitely a source of relief in the midst of so many troubles, in an environment disturbed by the incessant noise of traffic, indescribable pollution and the weather calamities, although their permanent missionary spirit is a rainbow bright between heavy rain and typhoons.

A dear greeting to all of you!