Solidarity in the time of COVID-19 -- MS Supplement
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In Maasin, a different COVID ‘camp’ emerges

First of two parts

The coronavirus pandemic brings inevitable discrimination to returning locally stranded individuals and overseas Filipino workers from big cities reeling from the virus

In Maasin, a different COVID ‘camp’ emerges
GRADUATION SPEECH. Maasin City Mayor Nacional Mercado speaks to ‘graduates’ at the Red Cross 143 COVID-19 Skills Camp in Danao Forest Park, some 15 kilometers away from the city (inset). Photos courtesy Maasin City LGU, Onel Salazar
But not in the small city of Maasin in Southern Leyte province where community and church leaders forged ties to bring a different kind of love and care for their returning kababayans.

“After being in Cebu, where it caused me great anxiety and paranoia, being here is just perfect. It really helped me relax and just be away from everything,” said Onel Salazar during his stay at the Red Cross 143 Covid-19 Skills Camp in Danao Forest Park, some 15 kilometers away from the city.

“It really had a great impact, making us feel more closer to God during this crisis. And relieved us from the stress, anxiety and paranoia that we felt before the quarantine, knowing that God is always with us,” added the 26-year-old mechanical engineer.

On June 23, Salazar joined with 28 other locally stranded individuals during a simple culmination program after they successfully completed their 14-day quarantine period.

Family and friends became emotional as they were finally reunited after two weeks of being separated.

Established by the Philippine Red Cross Southern Leyte chapter, in partnership with the City Government of Maasin, Diocese of Maasin, American Red Cross, private business sector, and other benefactors, the first Red Cross 143 Covid-19 Skills Camp in the country formally opened on June 8.  

“The Church has been part of this project since the beginning.  We were assigned to take care of the spiritual activities which formed an integral part of their stay in the facility,” said Msgr. Oscar Cadayona of the Our Lady of the Assumption Parish Cathedral.

“This “Covid Camp” will make the dwellers feel whole and loved by the community.  By having this camp, the people of Maasin show to the world what kind of community we have here in this particular part of the world. The prestige of a community is judged by the way it treats its members who are considered weak and vulnerable, to paraphrase St John Paul II,” said Cadayona in a report from Catholic news site Licas.news.

The prelate also congratulated the Red Cross, local officials, other partner government agencies, and the Diocesan Social Action Center “for this gesture of love and hope.”

Jonas Maco, Red Cross Southern Leyte chapter administrator, said they are looking forward to another batch of locally stranded individuals to be accommodated at the campsite.

“Our commitment continues. If we have the courage to begin, we also have the courage to succeed,” said Maco. (to be continued)

Topics: coronavirus pandemic , locally stranded individuals , overseas Filipino workers
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