The Nuns of Divine Word Hospital Tacloban


Tacloban's missionaries

Among those in the pews were women from the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing and Missionaries of Charity, who lost property when Haiyan swept through Tacloban City, Leyte. Eleven people they were serving were also killed in the flood the typhoon triggered.

The Missionary Benedictine Sisters were managing Divine Word Hospital in the city and the Missionaries of Charity were running homes for children, elderly and sick. Tsunami-like waves that engulfed the city spared their buildings, but floodwaters and a power blackout did their share of ruin.

Several Benedictines were working in the 160-bed hospital when it ran out of supplies days after the flood, Mother Prioress Adelaida Ygrubai told media representatives. Ten other sisters had joined them the day before the typhoon from the school community.

Missionary Nuns of Tacloban

Missionary Nuns of Tacloban

Ygrubai said she was in Tacloban over the weekend, where she watched doctors and nurses from emergency medical teams from Tagum in southern Philippines and from South Korea treat patients. She said they now do surgery as workers tidy up the mess left by the flood, and supplies come in more easily with the opening of Tacloban airport Friday.

A pregnant woman who had been to four hospitals impressed Ygrubai. "They turned her away because it was a breech, and she needed a caesarian section. They didn't want to touch it because they didn't have the resources, not even electricity, so she came to Divine Word Hospital and the surgeon from Tagum operated on her. I saw the baby -- so cute -- a girl."

However, the flood ruined lab equipment, so Ygrubai is looking to bring back a portable X-ray machine for safer surgeries.

The Missionary sisters, meanwhile, ran a home for the aged; a home for the sick, malnourished, abandoned and handicapped children; and a receiving and child care home in Tacloban and Palo. There are also contemplative Missionary sisters in the archdiocese.

The nine children and 22 adults in their care who survived the flood have been moved to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Home in neighboring Calbayog diocese in the Samar province, one of the sisters told NCR. The rest of the more than 30 children in the center went home to their relatives on the eve of the typhoon.

Women religious from Africa, France, India, Kenya and the Philippines will stay in the Samar home to help care for the displaced and the more than 50 residents for all Samar, including 34 children.

Divine Word Hospital Tacloban

Sending boxes of love to the Philippines

Boxes of Love for Philippines

One Filipino group in North Queensland, Australia, has commenced sending boxes of love to the Divine Word Hospital in Tacloban to ensure that the Nuns and Patients have a Christmas celebration.

The Mackay Filipino Society have been putting together boxes of donated food and clothing for their brothers and sisters whose lives were turned upside down when Typhoon Haiyan tore through the islands earlier this month.

Grace Vincent, wife of the society's president Daniel, says they hope the boxes arrive in time for Christmas.

"In each box there is canned goods, there is clothing for men, women and children," says Grace.

"So this box is good for one family and everyone has what they need, at least for their basic needs."

It's taken the group five days to pack all 46 boxes out the front of Grace and Daniel's home in South Mackay before loading them into a truck which will take them to Townsville to be shipped out.

"This has been like a warehouse of all the goods that are coming from Filipinos here in Mackay as well as Australian people." It's estimated around three million people in the Philippines are displaced and more than half a million are homeless, living without food, water or shelter.

Grace says she's been surprised by the generosity of complete strangers.

"Some of them we don't know and because they just saw in the news what's been happening in the Philippines.

"We ran out of boxes."

The Mackay Filipino society also cancelled their own Christmas party in order to concentrate their time and money on those back home.

"Most of the Filipinos have relatives or if they don't have relatives, they know that their fellow Filipinos are suffering so they're giving what they have, what they can share, to us.

"We know that in our own little way we can share what they need.

"Instead of doing the extravagant partying and enjoying, we share what little time and effort we have to do this project for them."


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We, as leaders of  faith communities, need to develop a more inclusive view of the religious other, to recognise the humanity of the religious other as a starting point. We need to recognise the essential equality of all human beings regardless of religious beliefs. We need to affirm the mutuality and interdependency of all people... We may need even to extend this and recognise that religious other may, just may, have at least some access to the Truth. We may need to accept that the religious others also adopts more or less the same set of essential universal ethical-moral principles we share; that the religious other has feelings of pain and pleasure just like us; that the religious other has similar expectations about their children and family and the preservation of life, property and security; and that the religious other has the same fears and anxieties about the world and the future, just like us.