SPMAFI Outreach: Paulinians in the Correctional Institute for Women
The outreach activity for the Paulinians in the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW) has been undertaken by the St. Paul Manila Alumni Foundation, Inc. (SPMAFI) for over a decade, under the leadership of Sherry Lara-Alingod and the Board of Trustees.
There are, at any given time, 16 to 20 Paulinians in the CIW. They come from various Paulinian schools—Manila, Quezon City, Makati, San Miguel, Tuguegarao, Vigan. They are in for various crimes—drug pushing, illegal recruitment, estafa. Two sisters from a school in Cebu (named St. Paul but not actually run by SPC Sisters), who were “adopted” since they first joined the group, are in for parricide, having killed their father who was trying to kill their mother. One was left holding the illegal recruitment bag by her husband and her best friend. One spent years for estafa of only P100,000.00. Most of them did not have adequate legal representation as they lacked the means and had to rely on public defenders.
The SPMAFI visited them at least twice a year, except for the past two and a half years of the pandemic. We brought them bags of toiletries, packed lunch, and P1,000.00 each (donated by kind-hearted alumni and mostly given by the inmates to their families). We had merienda and interacted with them, which made them so happy—breaking bread with their Paulinian sisters. They presented a simple program for us. It was so touching to hear them sing, “Tell the world of His love…” and other inspirational songs, despite their situation. And when we all sang the Paulinian Hymn together, we could not fail to notice that they sang it with much more feeling than some Paulinians “outside” do. We bought their handicrafts (bags and purses, Christmas trees and decors), talked with them about their families, advised them about legal steps they could take, encouraged them when they were depressed or unwell.
Their stories are heart-wrenching: one saw on tv her son shot in a buy-bust operation and left to die inside a police van; another could not go home to bury a dead child. So many tears; so much pain.
A visit with our sisters in the CIW is a totally moving experience, and anyone who goes there realizes that “there but for the grace of God, go I.”
During the year, the SPMAFI gives the inmates medicines or sends them to hospitals for procedures not covered by the facility (a former SPCM Clinical Instructor has stage 4 cancer, an SPC QC graduate has been paralyzed by a stroke, another has tuberculosis).
At this time, the SPMAFI does not have funds to continue with this outreach. However, some batches have indicated willingness to undertake a visit. It is our fervent hope that covid restrictions will be lifted so that we can resume this outreach, which is not just a corporal work of mercy but a living out of our motto, Caritas Christi Urget Nos.