2018-19AA Helen Villalba-Festejo

AA for Handmaids of the Lord

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Helen Villalba-Festejo

“Learn to have less so that others could have more”. “We are but channels of God’s kindness.” 
“Share the little you have and it will be returned tenfold”.  

My name is Helen Festejo, from Handmaids of the Lord (HOLD) Parramatta-Blacktown Area. I am married to Macario Festejo III for 23 years now and we have been blessed with 2 daughters, Julienne 19, and Ysabella 14. I joined HOLD in July 2014.   My husband could not join me then because of work commitments.

ANCOP stands for Answering the Cry of the Poor. Of all its works, the Education Sponsorship Program is closest to my heart. I am convinced that Education offers hope and frees people from poverty. To the impoverished areas of the world, this is a gateway to social transformation.  When I was shown the work of ANCOP and asked to be the messenger, I could not turn my gaze elsewhere.  I am humbled to be called to serve God and His people in this capacity. It was also a timely invitation in this Year of the Poor. I feel that this is my call to action.

The plight of the poor is not new to me.  While I was not born materially rich, neither could I say that I was born poor. But my parents were.

 

Both our parents drummed in our heads - that it is through Education that they got out of poverty.  That "education breaks the cycle of poverty " was my father’s catchphrase. We grew up witnessing people turn up at our doorstep  usually in the early hours of morning when we would all be busy getting ready for school.  Sometimes, we would be instructed to put some rice in a small bag, and hand to the visitor; while my mom would hand out some money.  In those times, my siblings and I did not think we had much to be able to give, in fact the life we had was modest but our parents always said: “Learn to have less so that others could have more”, “We are but channels of God’s kindness” , “Share the little you have and it will be returned tenfold”.  

I did not fully realize the magnitude and fruits of those little actions until I went home in 2005 to bury my father.  Mothers, fathers, beneficiaries of my father’s kindness came in numbers.  “I owe my life to your family”; “My daughter /son would not have gone to school without the help of your family’.  “I am where I am now because your family helped me”. Many of them now have decent jobs, living their dreams and more importantly paying forward. Kindness is being duplicated and multiplied.  Indeed, the blessings came not only in tenfold, but in hundredfold! Thousandfold!   And we have been truly enriched by them.

Because of this, I vowed to continue their legacy: to help where I can whenever I can.  When I was invited to be an ANCOP Ambassador - I said ‘Yes’ without hesitation - although my husband and I are already supporting a similar program in the Philippines.  I did not think of how difficult it would be for me to fit this humungous task in my already busy schedule. I could only think of the many people who could benefit from this endeavour. I could only count in my head how many people can become agents of change, if they are made aware of this mission. And I can only think of the many people whose lives will be improved as a result of this effort.  I can’t imagine the work to be free from obstacles, but I believe in my heart that if this is the work of God, He will send people to help me.  

 

 “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” 

~ St Augustine of Hippo

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