Enduring years of violence and abuse at home, 11-year old Maribel saw no option but to run from home. She did not know where. She just had to get out.
Her story is all too common in the villages on the impoverished island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Young girls endure violence and abuse within their own families, yet they remain silent for fear of revealing their shame. These children are defenseless. If they have the strength to break free, they lose what life they have known and find themselves on the streets, frightened and alone.
Imagine the feeling of being abandoned by family…by society…by God! Now, imagine finding a safe haven of love and compassion, where abused children, teens and young women can rediscover – or maybe discover for the first time – that they have value.
That safe haven is the Kasanag Daughters Foundation
Established in 1999 by the Priests of the Sacred Heart, the Kasanag Daughters Foundation is a refuge for abused girls in desperate need of shelter.
Here they are cared for medically, psychologically and spiritually. Here they experience safety and comfort, perhaps for the first time in their lives.
In a community of 32 girls who have all endured similar tragedies, they gradually find confidence and regain vitality. They receive legal help, education and vocational training. Ultimately, they are prepared for productive lives on their own.
December 16, 2011 – a day of horror
On December 16, 2011, Typhoon Washi hit Mindanao with devastating force. Thousands of homes were literally swept away in massive flooding caused by more than 10 hours of heavy rain. The storm left areas of the Kasanag Daughters Foundation under 13 feet of water. Mercifully, all girls and staff were evacuated to higher ground.
Almost everything in the Kasanag Home was damaged due to flooding and the mud left behind. Yet when things looked darkest, our faith and our commitment to the girls remained strong.
Through the help and prayers of friends of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in the U.S. and around the world – and with the hard work of our priests, brothers and seminarians who devoted themselves to keeping the Kasanag Daughters Foundation in operation while in temporary quarters—a new, safer shelter was built for the girls. Blessedly, the structure has stood up to the severe storms that so often strike the region.
Every day at the home we are blessed to witness the transformative power that shines from the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. To see young women reclaim their lives with confidence and purpose is to see God’s grace at work.
Let the Priests of the Sacred Heart pray for your loved ones and intentions.