Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 7, 2004
Couples for Christ provide real help for 'people in need'
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Frank Padilla is hoping that seven is his lucky number.
As head of the Couples for Christ organization, a worldwide spiritual initiative centred in his native Philippines, Padilla is striving to expand the organization so that Couples for Christ assists 700,000 homes in 7,000 Third World communities within the next seven years.
"It might be an impossible task, but this is like a steam engine gathering strength and power. As more and more people are aware of it, they see how good and effective the work is.
"They see the difference. I think more people will join us to achieve our objectives."
CFC is a Catholic community which started in the Philippines in 1981. It has grown from an original group of 16 couples concerned with preserving Christ in their lives and in their children, to about 1.4 million active members in 108 countries. It is open to membership by other Christians and is also doing work among non-Christians.
CFC has since evolved to tackle the challenges of social renewal, providing quality housing and improved living conditions for people forced to live in the most dreadful of slums.
Padilla said the Vatican has recognized Couples for Christ and the pope hopes countries like Canada, the United States and European countries become involved in supporting CFC's community development program that Filipinos call Gawad Kalinga, or providing care for people in need.
"The Bible tells us that work with the poor is crucial for our salvation. In Canada, there are people who are poor, but they can get meals, shelter and the government can help them. No one will die of hunger.
"The poor we are talking about are those who die of hunger; of children who die because they cannot receive inexpensive medicine," he said.
Gawad Kalinga began barely five years ago yet already some 7,000 homes in 270 communities have been repaired, cleaned and painted.
Padilla says this is a way for poverty-stricken areas to regain a sense of empowerment to further improve the quality of people's lives.
"This is our opportunity to give to the Third World poor because we are all one body in the world. You may not be on the front lines doing Gawad Kalinga in the Philippines and other countries, but you are participating because the body has different functions.
"Through your sponsorships, you are supporting GK and fulfilling our mandate to serve the poor."
Gawad Kalinga communities bring together Christians, Muslims and members of other faiths and the indigenous people living in the villages.
It has extended its helping hands to slums in Indonesia, India, East Timor and Papua New Guinea.
There are a number of things people, or groups of people, can do locally. They can help sponsor houses or help children attend school.
The communities GK works in require libraries and health facilities.
For residents of Canada, a donation can be made by calling ANCOP International (Canada) Inc., in Mississauga, Ont., at 1-877-692-6267.