A small city in the central Philippines is offering people displaced by the coronavirus pandemic who were placed under quarantine physical and spiritual care.
Government and church leaders in Maasin in Southern Leyte province joined hands to offer “love and care” for residents who have returned from the cities who have to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
“I am grateful to have been quarantined here,” said Onel Salazar, a 26-year old who returned from the province of Cebu early in June.
He said that after experiencing anxiety and paranoia in the city, being back home to be taken care of in Maasin “really helped me relax.”
Salazar said his quarantine experience made him “feel closer to God during the crisis.”
Aside from his “spiritual experience,” the young engineer said he was also relieved of stress, anxiety and paranoia.
On June 23, Salazar joined the first batch of 28 stranded individuals who completed their mandatory quarantine organized by the Red Cross, the Catholic Diocese of Maasin, and the local government.
“The Church has been part of this project since the beginning,” said Monsignor Oscar Cadayona of the Our Lady of the Assumption parish.
“We were assigned to take care of the spiritual activities that formed an integral part of [the people’s] stay in the facility,” said the priest.
He said that through the “COVID Camp” the people of Maasin wanted to show the world “the kind of community we have here.”
“The prestige of a community is judged by the way it treats its members who are considered weak and vulnerable,” said Monsignor Cadayona, whose diocese was acknowledged by the Vatican this week for being the first to use renewable energy in parishes.
“Our commitment continues. If we have the courage to begin, we also have the courage to succeed,” said the priest.
What made the quarantine facility in Maasin unique is the various skills training activities offered to those who are brought there.
“We comply with protocols to let those who are brought here enjoy their stay and to be physically active during their 14-day quarantine,” said Jonas Maco, head of the Red Cross in Southern Leyte.
During their 14-day stay, camp residents undergo a management orientation course, a psycho-social support program, and even learn first aid and plant trees.
They are also taught basic life support training, fire safety, substance abuse prevention, and gardening.
Several camp residents found their 14-day stay “memorable.”
Maria Mavel Malbas, a 24-year old call center worker from Cebu, said she is thankful to the organizers who welcomed the people despite the health risk.
“I will remember this my entire life. I’ve never imagined how a quarantine life could have a twist,” she said.
The Philippine Red Cross launched the “Red Cross 143 Covid-19 Skills Camp” for locally stranded individuals to provide an opportunity to learn emergency first-aid and basic life support skills while on isolation at the 30-bed quarantine center in Danao forest park.
Since the coronavirus outbreak in the country, Southern Leyte has confirmed a total of 36 cases, all active, according to the Department of Health.