Maronites on Mission: Serving the Poorest of the Poor

  ‘‘Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.’’ - Mother Teresa

With aims to make poverty history one step at a time, a group of 22 dedicated volunteers from Maronites on Mission (MOM) gave up their time to serve the poorest of the poor with reverence and humility.

Poverty is a major global issue which is what prompted the team of ordinary citizens to embark on a life-changing journey thousands of miles away.

Made up of doctors, nurses, dentists, teachers, builders and others, the volunteers set off on January 5 for a two-week mission to shelter, feed, educate and treat the poor in the city of Naga, Philippines.

Staying at the Missionaries of the Poor monastery, the Sydney-siders were warmly welcomed by about 50 brothers where they spent the next fortnight in.
Each team- building, education, medical, dental and charitable - organised separate missions day by day with Reverend Father Maroun El Kazzi overseeing it all, making sure all the volunteers were involved. A common goal and strong perseverance to make a difference gave the group courage and strength to overcome any emotions or thoughts that would interrupt the mission.

Having accomplished more than was expected, each team was satisfied with their outcome.  The education team, led by Joyce Naddaf, re-painted the Nazareth school for the poor from scratch with the help of community members, parents and students.

Not only did the contribution of others speed up the process, it also made them feel a great sense of belonging and importance which radiated in their smiles and laughter.  Repairs of a leaking roof were also on the cards to stop leaks into the classroom walls in times of rain and common typhoons.

The children were presented with a number of basic educational supplies to help them throughout their schooling such as books, pencils and toys to play with.

Led by Angela Arraj, the charitable works team provided food packages to more than 500 families, mosquito nets and mats to more than 300 homes and home-made soup and bread to the poorest community living in the dump site.  Baring in mind that most people sleep on the floor, the team purchased approximately 200 mattresses for the poor and provided food to the mentally ill living in the jail-like institution.

Charbel El-Achi successfully led the building team to demolish and construct a house for a family of eight who were all living in one room the size of an average bathroom.  Also on the books are plans to build a community of homes where the poor can live under shelter with access to clean water by June 2015.

Thanks to a Maronite sponsor in Sydney, the team also built a private bathing area for the community which was greatly appreciated by the locals.

On what was the most important day of the mission, Paul Tannous, Nadia Geagea and Lisa Saliba led the medical and dental team to treat more than 1500 patients on a site set up by the MOM volunteers.  Everyone got involved, and worked tirelessly to assist the teams, which involved catering to the crowd by entertaining, feeding and talking to them.  Teaching them preventative strategies to improve their overall physical and dental health was a must to ensure they can independently look after themselves once the team has left.

The pain and helplessness felt by the people was evident in their eyes which motivated the capable to help the incapable in every way possible.  At most part, it was a challenge but it was a step closer to seeing the face of Christ in the poor, touching the hands of the needy and embracing their loneliness.

Maronite Bishop of Australia His Excellency, Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay and Maronite chaplain Reverend Father Maroun El Kazzi, described the trip as highly successful mission.  They both praised the work done by the MOM team who went above and beyond to accomplish more than what was anticipated in such a short time.

For further information, contact the Maronite Eparchy of Australia on 02 8831 0000 or by email to



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