October 17 marks International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, a crucial date to highlight the inspiring stories of people dedicated to combating this global problem. Today, we focus on the testimony of Sister Margarita B. Rustia, a member of the Carmelite Sisters of Charity Vedruna in the Philippines, who tells us about her experience and work with Sister Judith Padasas in the fight against poverty.
Sister Margarita resides in Quezon City, Greater Manila, Philippines and is involved in the work of Sister Judith Padasas, who works tirelessly with the organization Talitha Kum International . Sister Judith is dedicated to giving talks and awareness campaigns on Human Trafficking and Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC), as well as Teenage Pregnancy in schools, parishes and slums.
One of Sister Judith’s touching initiatives involves providing food, such as rice, to people living in precarious conditions, such as those who scavenge for food or beg on the streets. This food aid is an incentive for them to attend talks and campaigns that promote education and empowerment.
An experience that deeply marked Sister Margarita was her visit to the cemetery in North Manila. There, he found more than 10,000 families living on a 54-hectare plot of land under extreme conditions. On several occasions, they delivered rice, clothes, blankets, toys, cooked food and hygiene items to around 300 to 500 families. The most vulnerable, such as the elderly and infants, receive priority.
In addition, some of the people residing in the cemetery were forced to resort to prostitution to survive. For them, receiving 5 kilograms of rice meant five days of not having to sell their bodies. The help provided by the team coordinated by Sister Judith and her talks are invaluable to these people.
Speaking about how to eradicate poverty, Sister Margarita stresses that they cannot do it alone. You need the support of many people and you cannot rely solely on the government. To address this challenge, they have implemented a simple project called “Project Future”, which includes:
- Ongoing awareness and counseling against OSEC and teenage pregnancy: Education and campaigns to empower the community and prevent exploitation.
- Free Clinic – Alay Lunas and Free Consultation: Providing affordable and free medical care in coordination with the medical staff and the Makati Medical Foundation.
- Acupuncture Detox for drug addicts, elderly and others: Offering detoxification treatments for those struggling with addiction.
On the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, stories like that of Sister Margarita B. Rustia and the tireless work of Sister Judith Padasas remind us that while eradicating poverty is a monumental challenge, every effort, no matter how small, can make a big difference in the lives of people who need it most. Solidarity and awareness are the weapons these Carmelite sisters use to create a brighter future for the disadvantaged in the Philippines.