“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…”—Matthew 32:32
The ‘Welcoming the Strangers’ Program
The ‘Welcoming the Strangers’ Program is a humanitarian initiative of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR) Inc. The Program was originally established midyear of 2011 to give support to indigenous peoples who fled their ancestral lands due to persecution, militarization and exploitation. When the deadly TS Washi (local name: Washi) came, the program expanded and extended the hospitality to our grieving, homeless and starving brethren in Northern Mindanao. Later the Program expanded to support communities affected by Bopha (Pablo) in Davao Region, Haiyan (Yolanda) and Hagupit (Ruby) in the Eastern Visayas. The Program later included not just delivery of much-needed humanitarian services to survivors of natural and man-made calamities, but also contributed to the eventual rehabilitation of affected communities while developing their resilience.
Inspired by Matthew’s Gospel (32:32): “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…”, the Program seeks to provide protection and hospitality to the internally displaced persons regardless of faith. Members of the RMP-NMR believe that welcoming strangers who are in need is one of the core values of our Christian faith, and of all other religions. It is our duty to give refuge to those who need it, and assist them in rebuilding their lives.
In partnership with local and community-based organizations, the Program includes the following components:
1. Emergency response and relief delivery operations (feeding, distribution of food and non-items, medical and psychosocial missions, protection, education in emergencies, WASH activities, etc)
2. Rehabilitation projects (restoration of agricultural activities, alternative livelihood projects, food security programs, small-scale infrastructures, shelter repairs, installation of water systems, etc)
3. Disaster preparedness (community-based disaster risk reduction trainings and projects)
4. Advocacy (research, documentation, and monitoring; awareness-raising; social mobilization and lobbying)
RMP-NMR’s partners and donors to its humanitarian activities included:
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