A nourishment center that is being run 99% by the laity can be found in Pag-Asa St, Poblacion District, Davao City, Davao del Sur. The Archdiocesan Nourishment Center (ANC) of Davao provides sustainable nourishment / feeding program to malnourished children, free medical and dental services, and educational scholarship. ANC also provides spiritual nourishment to children and parents by conducting recollections, bible studies, and catechism classes.
Beneficiaries are the poorest of the poor in the community surrounding the nourishment centers. Some of these children have one or both of their parents currently in jail because of illegal drugs. Some are Badjao, one of the tribes originally from the coastal areas of Mindanao. Badjaos are slowly earning reputation as street-dwellers or beggars. They are what Badjaos themselves call Bad-jao, labeling those who work for a living as Good-jao.
The building where ANC now stands was a former home for the aged ran by the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity. Archdiocesan Council of Lay Associations and Integrated Movements (ACLAIM) spearheaded the rehabilitation of the building and its facilities. ANC opened and became successfully operational on May, 2014. It now has one satellite center located in Barangay 76-A Bucana, Davao City (2016), one of the barangays of Talomo near the river area. The second satellite center is on its way, with lot already donated by a generous laity donor.
Archbishop Romulo G. Valles, D.D. with Monsignor Paul Quizon, provides pastoral guidance to ANC while its daily operation is being assisted by religious sisters of the Living the Gospel Community.
Food supplies like milk, rice, canned goods, harvested crops, and fresh fruits are continuously supplied by donors. Financial pledges are also received regularly.
I was blessed to be one of the delegates for the 4th National Catholic Media Convention organized by CBCP ECSC held August 6-9, 2018. I was even more blessed to be assigned in the group for Track 2: Dali Bai! We were tasked to produce pocket newscast about ANC. Mr Eddie Pacana, member of the Board of Trustees of ANC, gave us a lecture on ANC’s history, fund sources, benefactors, beneficiaries, and future plans before our actual visit in the afternoon.
Mr. Pacana relayed to us how different people were touched by God to share their time, talents, and treasure to help the children of ANC. Children who, due to their circumstance, might have fallen to a life on the streets, in danger of being forced into criminality. In the streets, the options to survive are limited. “Imagine! These former kids on the street can now dream. One child even now wants to be a policemen,” said Mr. Pacana.
A mother with two kids enrolled at ANC’s feeding program said that they knew of ANC when the religious sisters one day visited their neighborhood and found her malnourished kids. The mothers help in serving each plate to the kids, washing the plates every after meal, and in general housekeeping as their own way of giving back.
In ANC, the children are regularly served nutritious meals as recommended by volunteer nutritionists and pediatricians. They are taught hygiene lessons, too. Volunteer dentists give the children free dental services using the dental chair, also given by a generous donor.
When we went there, we also found three young social workers, interns from Holy Cross of Davao College immersed in ANC for a few months, researching and conducting case study.
Amyrose Bayon, Michelle Meneses, and Noralyn Marumon during my brief interview with them said that they did not want to be social workers at first but later on was absorbed by the children’s stories and now consider being a social worker, “an adventure”.
The empowerment of the laity is so outstanding in ANC. I remember how Pope Francis encourages us to acknowledge and be “the saints next door”. This has been amplified with what Sor. Cherrie Marie, a Carmelite nun in Tabe Monastery, advised., “Reflect on how our personal history which is happening right now make an impact to human history at large”. Supporting a nourishment center in our own community might be one. I’m sure every diocese or local Catholic church has a similar cause that it supports. We only have to seek ways and we shall find.