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Don Bosco children’s needs: more than just material goods

RANAU – A total of 17 members of the parish Pastoral Care for the Sick, Aged and Needy Ministry made a maiden visit to the Don Bosco Children’s Home at Bundu Tuhan here on 13 Oct 2018.

Some of the members were there for the first time even though the centre had existed for not less than 50 years!

Before the visit, we found out from Sister-in-Charge, Sr Anne Marie, that there are 60 children living in the hostel, whose ages range from seven to 17 years old – 13 of whom are 12 years old and below while 47 are in secondary school.

One of the highlights of the visit was a motivational talk given by member Mary Ann Chew, entitled, “Don’t Be Controlled By These 5 Things: Your past; Other people’s opinions and judgements; Limited beliefs you project on yourself; Relationship – love and connection; Money – Do not allow your decisions to be controlled by money.

We spent time talking to the children, especially the teenagers who are hungry for guidance and knowledge, pending entry into the working force of the real world. A number of them spent more than six years at the centre.

These children attend classes at the government-run school, SM Bundu Tuhan in the vicinity. Most of them come from broken families that are affected by divorce, single parenting and some are also victims of abuse.

These families are mostly located in rural kampongs (villages) around the area of Kiau District, Papar, Tamparuli, Kota Belud, Keningau, Ranau and in particular, a girl from further away. The girl’s father died when she was very young. The mother and her relatives abandoned her. Brother Ben found her and brought her back to the centre six years ago. She is now in her teens and needs love and peace of mind.

The centre has limited grounds for expansion. The construction of the hall and hostel was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu some 30 years ago. Maintenance and upkeep of the building is challenging.

The person that Sister and the children never forget, is the founder of the centre, Brother Martinus JA Snoeren, affectionately known by all as Brother Ben, born on Oct 8, 1929 and was called to the Lord on Feb 13 this year.

His Christian mission started in 1953 and retired in 2014. He spent almost all his 61 years of service in Don Bosco. A little table is placed at the side of the hostel hall with Brother Ben’s kind face in a photo frame in memorial of him.

He was the “papa” to the children of the centre. He will be forever fondly remembered by all the people who have known him. The children prayerfully remember all his love, comfort and hope he showered on them.

Sr Anne Marie and the five helpers at the centre have their hands full in looking after the children. Aaron, who was personally trained by Brother Ben, is one of the key assistants in the work force.

Sister said he is the “second Brother Ben”, a compliment to his diligence in looking after the centre. Sr Anne Marie and her team worked tirelessly in nurturing the children through prayer intercession, love and care to the best of their ability to deepen the children’s Catholic faith; strengthen their hope and increase their love of God to carry on the legacy of Brother Ben.

We left the centre with mixed feelings. These children are blessed to have a place to stay, food for physical health and education to meet their best ability in learning. However, looking into their eyes, one cannot help but feel they lacked the genuine happiness of family support and love.

     The two hours we stayed with the children made us realize that material goods are just a temporary satisfaction. What they really need is attention and love, especially from their own families. – SOCCOM St Simon

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