Justice for Diony & Hana
“The demands of justice must be satisfied first of all; that which is already due in justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity.”
+ St. John Chrysostom +
This quote came to mind when we visited our friends Diony and Hana last week. My husband Ramon has been good friends with them since high school and Yon (Diony) and Ramon used to be in the same gang. During Ramon’s drastic conversion, Yon was one of the people he constantly talked to about God and how the Lord was changing his life, in hopes that Yon would be inspired to follow Christ as well. Yon was open about God and was always willing to listen, since he used to be work for a priest as a student.
Last year Diony and Hana were the first ones we invited to join the mass wedding we sponsored with the Seilhan family. They were very happy and wanted to get married in the Church since they had been living together unmarried for 3 years. Hana was pregnant at the time after having a couple of miscarriages. They both knew God was the missing person in their union.
Hana was Methodist before so we often met with her to teach her about the Catholic Faith in preparation for her to receive baptism and the other sacraments before their wedding.
After that blessed wedding, Yon and Hana continued growing in the faith. They began to regularly attend Mass and got their baby baptized, even though we were on mission on another island and hadn’t seen them for almost a year after the wedding. They would constantly text us updates on how God was working in their lives.
When we got back to Malaybalay, Yon was the first one that Ramon visited and he was surprised on how much weight Yon had lost. And because of all that has been happening in our lives, mission, and all the complications I’ve been having with my pregnancy we didn’t have time to visit them, even when Yon texted us asking if they could borrow some rice. Finally, this past Sunday we felt God telling us to go and visit them, so we packed all the rice we had in the house and decided to go there right after Mass.
We were surprised to find out that the house they used to live in got demolished and now they are renting in a very slippery and dangerous river side area. When I saw the house itself I thought it that looked very unsafe, like it’s going to fall any minute. It turns out that it wasn’t even the house they were renting… but the tiny space under it. Yes! A small space that is usually used to keep your dog or other pets out of the rain. No water, no electricity, no bathroom, and they pay 200 pesos a month (about $5 U.S.) to stay there! They were destitute. No wonder Yon and Hana had lost so much weight. Their now one year old baby is also severely underweight and malnourished too.
I felt so ashamed for neglecting our friends when they texted us and asked for help. I’m ashamed for thinking the other things we were doing were more important or a better use of our time. We started wondering, “what justice was the rice we brought for them?” None at all. And so like any coward, when my husband started reading the Bible to tell them how God knows their sufferings and how the Lord will provide for them, I asked him if we could go home and started to cry. I felt horrible, feeling sick and responsible for what happened. If only we had visited as soon as we got back in town. Or maybe if I just responded and went to them right after their first text asking for rice. If only I was a better friend or a better person or a better missionary, maybe Hana wouldn’t have become skin and bones and maybe their baby, which is our godchild, wouldn’t have become malnourished. Maybe they would still have their dignity and would not be sleeping like rats in this place.
I knew crying and thinking about the “what if’s” would not ease or help my friends’ situation, and I knew that God wanted us to be his instruments to help them and bring justice to their situation. So I wiped my tears, and Ramon and I went to the store and bought everything we thought they might need. From toothpaste, soap, milk, food, and vegetables to diapers, down to cooking oil and onions – we bought it for them. We went straight back to their house and they were so very happy to accept it.
Again, my husband started reading from his pocket Bible about how God provides for our needs. Diony and Hana shared that they were praying a lot and Ramon praised the Lord, saying God sent us to be his instrument to provide for their needs. Salamat sa DIOS! Thanks be to God!
After buying all those things and groceries for them, do you think I felt I had given them the justice they deserved? Honestly, I think we helped them to not be hungry for a couple of days. But justice? No! Hana still looks like she needs to be admitted to the hospital soon, the baby is still very malnourished and above all, they still live in a tiny crawl space under a house that could literally fall on top of them any moment.
So please don’t just read this blog. Consider helping them financially to allow them to find a better place to stay and bring more of God’s justice into their lives. Maybe together, with God’s grace, we can get them out of that place. Maybe we can build them a home of their own or, at the very least, we could give them the basic dignity of a safe rent house with running water, electricity, and bathroom. Maybe together we can get the baby to a pediatrician and get her some vitamins, milk, or anything to improve her health and do the same for Hana before they get very ill.
God loves these children of His very much! As Christians we are His representatives, so let’s join together and show them his love, care, and justice!
We sincerely appreciate your help for our friends and I know God will reward your generosity and prayers. Salamat sa DIOS! Thanks be to God!
To help Diony & Hana and other families in need, give online here or by mail and write Diony & Hana in the comments.