“Being able to help others and see their lives improve day by day, that is the reward and fulfillment I get to cherish every working day.”
This is how missionary Divina Fabra, winner of the 2015 Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Award defines her work. The award honored Fabra for exemplifying the values of selfless service for the poorest of the poor, similar to Mother Teresa. Fabra helped build a school and small church for a remote Aeta community in Zambales province even without proper funding.
An advocate of indigenous peoples’ (IP) rights, Fabra came to the community two decades ago as a member of the New Tribes Mission to help teach the Aeta children how to write, read and count—basic literacy skills that are essential to get a decent job in the city.
As the recipient of the 2015 Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Award, Fabra was able to use half of a million cash prize to build a water pump and a multi-purpose hall for the Aeta community. The local community also earned from a few months of construction work, she added.
“I am thankful to receive the award. The Aeta community is happy because finally, they are able to have access to clean water,” said Fabra.
Prior to building the water pump, Fabra said that the members of the community had to walk for two kilometers to fetch water from the nearest river, where locals do their laundry and where farmers bathe their carabaos.
“Now, the community has a source of clean, drinking water unlike before. It is really a big help,” said Fabra.
Members of the community now hold their regular meetings, including medical missions, at the roofed multi-purpose hall. Before its construction, the Aeta held meetings under a tree so when the rain pours, they had stop and run to the nearest house for shelter.
“When I first came here in the Aeta community, I was challenged because of the situation they are in, plus the limited access to basic services given that they were among the displaced during the Pinatubo eruption,” said Fabra.
“But I also saw resilience and hope among them and that fueled my desire to continue my work with them,” said Fabra. She is proud to say that some of the Aeta youth she had taught now have jobs in the city.
Fabra donated the remaining half of the prize money to her chosen organization, the New Tribes Mission, which in turn used the money to fund the renovation for its training and guesthouse for visiting missionaries.
The 2015 awardee has high hopes that the Filipino youth of today will use their skills, talent and time to contribute in uplifting the lives of people in their community.
Fabra encouraged Filipinos to nominate people who have exemplified service for the poorest of the poor in the recently launched 29th Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Awards by JCI Manila and AY Foundation.
“I wish for the next BTCA winner to use the award as an inspiration to continue helping others and to leave a legacy with the lasting impact of having improved the lives of others,” said Fabra.
“This year is monumental for the BTCA organization as Mother Teresa was canonized on Sept. 4, and through the generosity of various organizations, the prize for this year has increased to P1.5 million that will go a long way in helping the winner’s chosen advocacy,” said Gio Valencia, 2016 BTCA Chairman.
“The BTCA Committee believes that we have everyday heroes such as Ms. Divina Fabra who continue to inspire selfless service for others. We hope that by telling the stories of role models like Ms. Fabra, we can encourage our youth to use their skills and time in serving others,” added Valencia.
The BTCA organizes activities to allow students to meet the past winners and visit themselves in various charitable institutions chosen by the winners.
In honor Mother Teresa’s canonization on Sept. 4, an additional P500,000.00 worth of goods and services will be given to the winner’s chosen charity.
The 2016 Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Award winner will be announced on Sept. 26.