The cross wrought by man; the Cross brought by God-A A +A
By Luci Lizares
Saturday, March 17, 2012
I WAS listening to the homily of Fr. Chao and he focused on the crosses that come into our lives. The first one, the cross wrought by man, is easy to relate with. In life, man brings upon man many crosses. The cross of betrayal, denial, false witness, lies, physical hurt, abusive language and many other persecutions.
However, when he mentioned the cross brought upon us by God, I had to stop, think and reflect. Does God in all His almighty compassion and mercy consciously bestow upon us crosses to bear? We know of His graces and blessings, but crosses?
I had a classic answer to my questioning mind when I attended the blessing of the new home of Haven in Taculing.
The story of Haven started when Phil Seckler, a retired social worker, together with his wife Cecilia, likewise a social worker, decided to come home to the Philippines. With Phil’s monthly pension, they could live comfortably but God had other plans.
A severely sickly child was brought into their home. The Secklers took care of the child and gave him the much needed medical attention, not realizing that a new vocation was activated in their lives. Phil and Cecilia began rescuing children - the malnourished, the abused, the battered, the abandoned. Children who in their tender years have suffered crosses wrought on by their fellowmen and saddest part of the tale is that it is usually by one’s own kin!
It is horrifying to learn that children as young as three years old are raped or sold to prostitution by their own family members. It is appalling to see children beaten, banged like worthless pieces of wood. But such are the crosses wrought by man. So inhumane!
As the numbers grew, Haven Home was born and Phil and Cecilia became Mom and Dad to these broken children. There were mounting problems but the couple hanged on to their mission until, one day, they were to be evicted.
Haven was now home to 30 children. Although God allows crosses to step into our lives, He always sends His instruments. Entering into their lives was Anna Balcells.
Anna was a returning resident who lived in Barcelona, Spain for countless years. Anna’s father Alberto Balcells was sick and she decided to come home and take care of him. When he passed on, Anna likewise decided to stay on and take care of her mom.
Anna’s friend, Elaine Eleazar, who was aware of the plight of Phil and Cecilia, brought Anna to Haven. This was in the dead of night and the house was dark but the place reverberated with children’s laughter. That was enough to move Anna to a commitment.
A phone call to a generous friend and a new home was bought for the Secklers and the children. This move also ushered in the establishment of Kalipay Negrense Foundation, Inc.
To date, there are now five homes under the care of Kalipay and Anna has not only exhausted her energies in finding funding for these abused and abandoned children which now totals 300 here in the Philippines but she has also extended her efforts to distant shores . As of last year, Kalipay, Spain Foundation, Inc. was organized as well.
A year or so ago, Anna called me asking for a property where they can build a bigger home for the children of Haven. After much deliberation and discernment, the Board decided to tear down the original house and build a bigger one.
Where to get the funds was another cross but Anna was unwavering. She knew that God will provide that. Indeed, help came. Vladi Gonzales with his team of men came and wiped out the dilapidated home. Norman Campos, the architect husband of Gigi who is one of the directors of Kalipay, designed the new home which is complete with living quarters for toddlers, girls and boys and for the staff. There were bathrooms adjacent to these rooms. There is an office, a library, a clinic, kitchen and classrooms plus all the facilities needed for the care, health and nutrition of the children.
While God sent a cross, He also sent a blessing. Anna was able to find a benefactor for the New Haven Home. It is equipped to take care of these children who have suffered the atrocities brought on by man. There is a pediatrician who has tirelessly given his services to monitor the health of the kids.
What is wanting, though, is a child psychologist who can treat the traumas experienced by these kids. Anna says that, despite all the love and attention bestowed upon these children, there are cases when the grown child succumbs to depression and total lack of self worth.
When cases like this surface, then they have to send the child to Manila to be supervised by a child psychologist there. If only we have one here in Bacolod, then it can cut the mounting obligations on top of the daily needs, food, clothing, education and all the basic necessities that come with the rearing of children.
Anna says that the new Haven is a refuge for children who want to be rescued from the harsh punishments they are subjected to and a place to run to for help. Kalipay works directly with the DSSW and they have social workers in their team to assess the situation of the children.
The cross wrought by man is so evident when you hear the stories of these children. I cower in shame when I compare my personal woes to them. The cross wrought by God is the responsibility handed on to Anna and her team and the noble persons like Phil and Cecilia. I stand in awe how they have embraced this most trying cross. It is not easy to meet even just our own daily obligations, more so for 300 or more children who are bruised and wounded inside and out!
While we all cannot donate an edifice, our donations no matter how small or seemingly insignificant can buy a pencil for the school needs of the children or some soap for their hygiene.
Collectively the small donations can amount to much, especially when given from the heart and most meritorious in heaven. In our small, secret way, let us help Anna and Kalipay and bear part of the cross, especially in this season of Lent.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 17, 2012.