Dumagat Children Enjoy the Gift: Ministry with the Poor in the Philippines

The following reflection is by Rev. Grace Choi, a United Methodist missionary who works among the Dumagat people in Rizal Province. It originally appeared in the Jan. 2012 issue of “Pagsasaya,” the mission newsletter of Rev. Grace and her husband Rev. Jay Choi, who have given us permission to post this excerpt.

Dumagat Children Enjoy the Gift

The children of three Dumagat villages, Laiban, Kinabuan and Nayon received a precious gift.

Last August, I had a conversation with a mother who attended a community health education at a village. She was with her baby in her arms. She said that the baby was the youngest among 7 children. The baby was holding a milk bottle but I came to know later that it was not milk but water mixed with ground rice. The mother knew very well that breast feeding was better. The problem was that she could not produce milk because of her malnutrition. So she had been feeding her baby with the rice water since the baby was born. The baby was 8 months old but her weight was still 4 kilograms. While listening to the story, I lost my word and thought, “What would this health education mean while there is no food to eat? Lord, what shall I do then?”

Dumagat people suffer severe hunger during rainy season and it has been chronic problem. Heavy rain impedes the harvest which at least could fill their hunger. During this period, they usually eat a meal a day, and there are many days that they cannot eat even a whole day. In that period, children have to work with their parents looking for foods. This makes the children absent from the school. They call this period “Pangawitang Palakol”. The three months, from August to November, are the period the people especially the children of the villages need feeding program.

Angie, the director of the Harris Community Development Center said that we needed around $ 5,000 to feed the children of the three villages during the period. After returning to home, I began to pray to God.

Then, I received an email. It came from the Severance Hospital in Korea where I used to work as a nurse. The mail said that a doctor who read our newsletter donated $5,000. I jumped with joy, excitement and thanksgiving. I did neither know the donor personally nor mentioned about the situation specifically. It must have been the Holy Spirit who worked in him for the mission. It was a surprise gift for the children. I prayed “Lord, you wanted to feed those hungry children. I praise you Lord.”

To support Grace and Jay Choi's work with the Dumagat people, you may donate on line to  through the Advance by clicking on, Eun Ha (Grace) Choi #13974

In addition to the Choi's work with the Dumagat peoples in this region of the Philippines, The General Board of Global Ministries (including UMCOR), in partnership with Harris Memorial College (a Methodist college in the Philippines), are engaged in a multi-year Ministry With the Poor Initiative with Dumagat communities in the Rizal Province of the Philippines. To learn more about this cutting edge, Ministry With the Poor integrated development initiative in these remote, rural, mountainous Dumagat commuities,view these short videos:

“Walking With* the Dumagat People in the Philippines”: http://www.ministrywith.org/media/video/video_view/?id=71

 “With* the Philippines: 10-Fold Webcast”: http://www.ministrywith.org/media/video/video_view/?id=73

“Ministry With the Poor Project in the Philippines: Update”: http://www.ministrywith.org/media/video/video_view/?id=75

“Working to Improve Health in the Philippines”: http://www.ministrywith.org/media/video/video_view/?id=77

 “ALS: Alternative Learning System in the Philippines”: http://www.ministrywith.org/media/video/video_view/?id=74

You can partner with the Dumagat communities in the Philippines by giving to Comprehensive Community Development Project for Dumagat Communities, UMCOR Advance #3021302 and designating your gift for “With* the Philippines.” [Give now]

To work with other communities meeting critical needs in the Philippines and around the world, please give to UMCOR Undesignated, UMCOR Advance #999895. [Give now]


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