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Be non-selective, give charity to all

KOTA MARUDU – The outreach team of St Simon Catholic Church Likas Pastoral Care Ministry visited Kg Gosusu here on Sep 10.

“Go out as a community to help the communities in need. Remember to give charity to all – be non-selective,” advised parish priest Fr Cosmas Lee as he gave them the blessing ahead of the three-hour and a half journey into the rural village.

The northbound drive took the convoy of 19 members, in eight heavy-duty vehicles and a lorry packed with goods, along a 6.7km gravel road.

After a small hiccup along the way of having to pull the heavily-laden lorry up a steep slope, the team finally reached its destination – a small but neat village, sitting at the bank of a seasonal river in a valley.

Kampong chief Jose Latah, catechist Alpheus, some 40 women and children were on hand to welcome us at a small but solid community hall built with wood and bamboo.

After the formality of a welcome speech, Alpheus shared with us his vast experience of catechist work in various kampongs in the East Coast of Sabah over the past 30 years.

Although there are only a small number of Catholics – some 200 people – among the kampong folks here, the village is blessed to have Alpheus to guide them on the Catholic faith.

A tiny but well-maintained chapel called Assumption of Our Lady sits at a slightly higher ground in the vicinity and in front of it, a grotto that houses an immaculate white porcelain statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Alpheus proudly said the grotto was constructed two years ago with stones from the river.

“The majority of our construction materials such as stones and bamboos are extracted from the village vicinity,”  he said, adding that they also grow vegetables or gather them from the wild and rear chickens for food.

Under lead coordinators James and Dominic, who tirelessly coordinated with the Gosusu community leaders well ahead of our visit, the construction of a Tadika kitchen adjacent to the school had been completed. These were also located near the community hall. A young teacher, Evelyn Vincent, is employed at the Tadika to teach a present number of six pre-school students.

The team brought along donations of school furniture comprising four long desks and 16 stools as well as gas tanks, rice and various dried food stuff, sundries and other requested necessities.

The team also discovered that the lack of electricity in the area was the reason why less children want to go to school there. They were determined to fix the damaged solar power panels as one of the means to improve the situation.

Alpheus said there could be even less students next year as the older children would go to the public school in town. He was, however, determined to remain as the catechist and protect every sheep and let not one sheep be lost.

Besides teaching about the Catholic faith, Alpheus also taught them hymns.

This reminded us of what Fr Cosmas said “We need to be humble and learn from the people that we are visiting. They lead a simple life, away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.” – SOCCOM ST SIMON

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