CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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The group that never says die

HONG KONG (SE): At first sight, the Filipino Migrant Cancer Support Society (FILMCASS) is an organisation that should not have succeeded, but as any teacher or social observer knows and understands, the human spirit can never be underestimated and the seemingly impossible is attainable with the right amount of determination, inspiration and hard work.

But on May 22, the members of FILMCASS got together at the Sacred Heart Canossian School in Caine Road with some 100 or so of their guests and supporters to celebrate the ninth anniversary of an organisation which just will not say die, the same attitude its members bring to the work they do among the cancer patients whom they care for.

The organisation is made up entirely of migrant workers in Hong Kong, who devote much of their spare time to accompanying their compatriots who contract cancer, as well as supporting them in the normally simple tasks of daily life that can become extremely arduous for a person who is sick.

The continued viability of FILMCASS is indeed a great tribute to those who through divine inspiration and personal choice have committed themselves to a service that demands not only dedication, but a firm decision to develop the ability to carry out the work well.

However, the group is well aware that those with a life-threatening illness cannot be accompanied solely through their own, personal inspiration, as the spiritual adviser, Sister Vicky Ramos, articulated in opening the afternoon when she prayed, “Thank you Lord for being faithful in walking with us in caring for life.”

Sister Ramos also acknowledged the inspiration derived from the cancer patients themselves, who in an almost ironical manner, offer the strongest of all inspirations to those who seek to care for them.

“It is a joy to witness their care,” Sister Ramos said.

She also acknowledged the many benefactors and supporters who walk with them, as was attested to during the afternoon by a succession of representatives from groups as varied as Pinoy Television, the Prison Ministry, Filipino Nurses Association, Women Drivers, Hong Kong Women’s Workers Federation, St. Joseph the Worker Group, Hong Kong News, CARD MRI Financial Literacy and Nu Skin Fashion, all of whom offered their congratulations and ongoing support.

Fatima Quintin, from the Philippine Consulate General, reaffirmed the support of her office for what she described as a highly important service in the Philippine community.

Quintin presented two symbols of support to the group, a poster pledging the dedication of the consulate to the advancement of The Philippines and Filipino people in the world community, and a candle decorated with a ribbon bearing the country’s national colours.

With the shifting migrant worker population, membership of the group is always a struggle, but FILMCASS manages to sustain a fairly constant contingent of 60 or so permanent members, although, as Sister Ramos pointed out, some have been lost to their struggle with cancer.

However, she stressed, “Today we celebrate because we are still alive. But we cannot enjoy life alone. If we smile alone, it is but a memory of others. However, today we celebrate and thank God for the friendship and support of each other.”

In thanking those who perspired in the preparation for the afternoon celebration, she called on the members of the group to renew their pledge of service to others, before adding, “Do not let others be sad—and enjoy the afternoon.”

The never say die attitude that FILMCASS imbues in the cancer patients that it cares for also has much to do with the health it demonstrates as a group.

To succeed, any service group must look towards fulfilling a wide variety of goals and FILMCASS has done that not only in the study and work the members have put in to becoming competent in their tasks, but in widening the horizons of all its members.

As a group, it has taken on study in financial literacy, presentation of public functions, table decorating, cookie making and a variety of other things, as well as praying together and ensuring plenty of time is devoted to the life-giving pastime of just hanging around together and enjoying each others company.

The group has constantly been blessed with the presence of people who have been prepared to sacrifice their own preferred ways of offering service to place their talents where they are needed most.

Their legacy lives on in the seeming miracle of a group that has always sailed close to the rocks, but is now looking forward to celebrating its 10th anniversary next year.

To all members of FILMCASS, the Sunday Examiner salutes you.

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