Tag Archives: Shay

[People] A Sustainable Life of Dignity, Rio+20 by Fr. Shay Cullen

A Sustainable Life of Dignity, Rio+20

by Fr. Shay Cullen

My faith is greatly challenged when I look upon the earth and the ongoing destruction of the beautiful valleys, hills, rivers and forests. Does the Lord of the Universe allow the ravages of mining, river pollution, reckless forest destruction, the depletion of marine life and destructive greed?

No! Humans with free choice decide and cause it all. The run-a-way over-consumption that drives economic growth is unsustainable and the UN Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro this June is one of the most important this century as it attempts to persuade the world leaders and industry to turn to more sustainable energy, clean the planet and provide a decent life for all their people.

The first summit in Rio twenty years ago called world attention to the polluted planet and global warming and its impact on all life on earth. Future generations will be greatly affected by the environmental destruction around us today. Coal and oil burning power stations are pumping out deadly gasses that not only cause many diseases arising from the dangerous chemicals CO2, mercury, uranium that they spew out, they also create the greenhouse effect. The drastic changes due to human activity and unhealthy life styles will soon become irreversible.

The greenhouse gases, accumulated over a hundred years in the upper atmosphere as a result of burning fossil fuels are acting like a blanket around the globe, increasing temperatures will threaten life as we know it. When the planet’s temperature reaches a tipping point, there is no turning back, we can’t cool it. That point is fast approaching. Climate change will be irreversible.

The warming will get worse and melt more of the arctic permafrost and release billion more methane into the atmosphere. The ice caps are melting already and ocean levels rising as a result. Low-lying coastal areas will be devastated. The ocean currents will be affected too and will have a catastrophic impact on climate.

Hunger is spreading due to devastating floods in some places and droughts in others. West Africa is experiencing a great food shortage due to lack of rain, Australia had years of drought then devastating flooding. If this sounds like doom and gloom it is. Is this the future that we want? This is the question poised by the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Can humankind work together to turn to a more sustainable form of energy production like solar, wind power, small scale hydropower and geothermal and reduce over dependence on burning fossil fuels? Can we correct the unjust gap between the rich few and the billions of poor?

For the past two hundred years it has been believed that economic growth and non-stop production and consumption are good for mankind. But what a fallacy that is. The drive to increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and call it the measure of success and prosperity is vastly over rated. It is a false unjust, exploitative and destructive economic model. There has to be a limit to wild uncontrolled economic growth based on greed, consumerism and selfish prosperity. It has led to unrestrained desires and wants and excessive borrowing has plunged much of the developed world into recession and stagnant growth.

That may not be entirely a bad thing. Millions are unhealthy from eating junk food, two-thirds of the United States population is overweight, even obese. The US armed forces will not have enough recruits that can march and fight wars. National security is at stake as a result of the hamburger and sugared drink. There must be more to life and happiness than possessions and money. People obsessed with getting rich have forgotten how to love, have families and help their neighbor. In Japan, couples are having more pets than children. National survival will be at stake there too.

Now that the borrowed dream has turned into a nightmare there are street riots demanding free handouts and an end to austerity. The days of unending state and welfare benefits are great reduced. They have to live on less but are still way better off than the billions of poor people that barely survive on a dollar-a-day without jobs, water, food, fuel, homes and security.

What needs to be developed is reverence and respect for every other human being, the earth and all living creatures. This is what the summit in Rio will try to promote. The earth cannot endure unrestrained growth and environmental destruction that it brings. The only economic growth that is good, right and just is when the environment is protected and all humans can have a life of dignity where in the their basic needs are met and happiness is a spiritual experience. What we need is a spiritual revolution, a global change of mind and heart that will establish the inalienable rights of all to a life of justice free from basic needs in a clean planet. END
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Contact Fr. Shay Cullen at the Preda Center, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City, Philippines. e-mail: shaycullen@preda.org, newsletters@preda.org

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(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times,
in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)
http://www.preda.org/en/newsitems/a-sustainable-life-of-dignity-rio20/

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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[People] Changing the Face of Loneliness by Fr. Shay Cullen

Changing the Face of Loneliness
by Fr. Shay Cullen

It was a happy day last week for 31 children and one adult suffering from cleft palate and cleft lip, when the expert surgical team of volunteer doctors with the Philippine Band of Mercy completed a marathon stretch of facial reconstruction operations at the San Marcelino hospital in Zambales. It had special meaning for me too.

One 15 year old girl Angelica had difficulty speaking because of the facial disfigurement caused by a serious cleft lip. Still she did her best and told the social worker and doctors that her greatest fear in life was not the disfigurement alone but that she would never have a boyfriend and be kissed. Nothing could be more serious for a teenager.

Two front teeth appeared to be protruding from her nose and there was a gaping hole where her mouth and lips should have been. To an outsider the child was hideously ugly. She had stopped school after grade four because of the hurtful comments of a few schoolmates. She and many more like her suffer much because of the disfigurement. In the Philippines one child in every 400 suffers either a cleft palate or a cleft lip, some say its even higher. Worldwide it is one in every 700 births.

But by Wednesday that nightmare was over for Angelica and the other much younger children. Having already passed the pre-screening the previous week Angelica entered the operating theatre and received a local anesthetic. The surgical team set to work and began to re-sculpture her disfigured facial features. In a stunning 45 minutes, all recorded on video, newly reconstructed lips and mouth appeared under the skilled hands of the surgeon.

On the operating table it was an amazing change but in a few more months of healing Angelica and the other patients will be looking like new persons. This will be especially true for the children as young as three to six years old. A surgical operation at an early age can heal with almost no scar.

These unfortunate children who cannot get an operation suffer psychologically as they grow up especially after they are five years old. They can have speech impediment, have poor self-image and tend to isolate themselves. Some lack friends, education and a deprived social life. Many become so shy that they tend to isolate themselves and cannot play and enjoy a happy childhood

“Why am I not like other children”, Angelica asked. The answer is not yet totally clear but according to Wikipedia a cleft palate and lip is… “A congenital deformity caused by abnormal facial development during gestation. It is the non-fusion of the body’s natural structures that form before birth”.

The first time I saw a child with a hole in her face was long ago in 1972. I was a newly arrived Missionary of St. Columban in the Philippines and assigned as assistant parish Priest of San Marcelino. While visiting a rural school I rounded a corner and was face to face with a child of enormous ugliness and frightening appearance. She was about 12 years-old had a massive facial deformity – a cleft palate and lip. Where she ought to have had a mouth and a nose instead there was a hole and a single tooth protruded. The poor child looked hideous and she knew it. Surely she must have had to endure the taunts of the other children or be branded a freak. Many of these children cannot laugh or smile and they have speech difficulties.

I soon found many more children with these facial deformities in San Marcelino and neighboring towns and I began Operation Harelip with the help of Sister Rose from Daughters of Charity along with the Philippine Band of Mercy. Over the years other charities also picked up the work and many hundreds of children with cleft lips and palates and other deformities have been restored to a more normal life. Today the work still goes on. Preda will continue to seek out the children in need of operations, support them and the surgical team. They will soon have laughs and smiles, hugs and kisses and a much happier life. e-mail: shaycullen@preda.org. website: http://www.preda.org

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Privacy Policy:
We will never share, sell, or rent individual personal information with anyone without your advance permission or unless ordered by a court of law. Information submitted to us is only available to employees managing this information for purposes of contacting you or sending you emails based on your request for information and to contracted service providers for purposes of providing services relating to our communications with you.
Physical Address:

Contact Fr. Shay Cullen at the Preda Center, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City, Philippines. e-mail: preda@info.com.ph, newsletters@preda.org

SEND US DONATIONS: You can now send us donations Online via PAYPAL. Please visit our website.

(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times,
in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)
http://www.preda.org/en/news/fr-shays-articles/changing-the-face-of-loneliness/

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[People] Can We Believe and Achieve the Resurrection? by Fr. Shay Cullen

Can We Believe and Achieve the Resurrection?
by Fr. Shay Cullen

Christians have celebrated the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, we have recalled the dramatic events in that life of one who brought into the world the unconditional, self- sacrificing love that makes us so human and so divine. When we love others like the Good Samaritan, generous, self-giving to a stranger, to a victim, the way Jesus himself did, risking all for the dignity and the rights of others, we can hope for eternal life.

Perhaps we don’t have to risk all as he did confronting the corruption and the hypocrisy of the elite and the religious authorities, who executed him, but by living a life for others and not ourselves as he taught. If we can, then perhaps evolve to a higher spiritual level and experience our own resurrection.

We may reach that level of goodness and spiritual maturity that will enable us to cross successfully to the life of eternal goodness beyond the grave and as Jesus did and we could overcome death and live forever. That is the dream of all people of faith; to unite with the God of eternal love and gain eternity. Death that ends in nothingness is difficult to accept and contemplate but the faith and belief in life hereafter and in the Resurrection is what gives us hope and the strength to live an unselfish life.

But let’s not make seeking eternity the reason for doing good, we can become selfish, seeking our own personal happiness in eternity when we ought to help others without seeking any reward. What will be will be. If we thought about it getting eternity for our selves too much, it can be self-defeating.

It’s not such a great leap of faith to believe in the resurrection, millions do. Believing is one thing but achieving it is another. Therein is the real challenge to live a worthy and noble life of virtue and service for others. Jesus set a high standard and we got to share and bear to achieve that standard. Many true Christians quietly follow the example of Jesus and share humbly their worldly goods without seeking reward and praise and glorification. They are in solidarity with the poor, and promote justice and love in the world and quietly help others. They are on the road to eternal life.

In this world there are “resurrections” too. I have seen them. When the abused and brutalized children find safety and protection, love, care inspiration and affirmation, they can rise from the depths of despair and hopelessness and live again. I witness this daily as the victims of sexual abuse, brutality and neglect, those long suffering unjust incarceration in filthy rat infested jails are freed and given support and respect, they rise from the dead as it were. Spiritual death is the result of the deprivation of love and friendship.

Jessica was 14, a beautiful looking child, although disabled, she was trying her best to make a place for herself in this world. She went to school and did her best to endure the teases and jeers.

She is a child that suffered from polio and had a disability with walking and speech and was vulnerable and defenseless when she was set upon by the rapists and abusers. As a polio victim for which there was no help whatsoever, she was neglected, and left as a freak by her family and could not go to school for fear of being jeered by the other children. She had a normal intelligence but was unable to grow and develop. When she was first abused by a gang of rapists, she became like a living dead. She was unable to speak, to look at anyone, and she hardly ate. She was a living skeleton, malnourished and had no will to live. She was dead, one could say.

When she was found by Preda social workers she asked for help and was given refuge and shelter at the Preda Girls’ Home. The gang rape was the most traumatic thing in her life and her parents ignored it. They feared retaliation from the families of the boys who were rich and powerful.

Jessica recounted all to the therapists and found the love and attention and care she longed for in the family of the Girls’ home and began to awake from the dead. Soon she was smiling, joining the play and going to school. She was strong enough to file criminal charges against her abusers and never looked back. Today she is a healthy happy child resurrected and living again.
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We will never share, sell, or rent individual personal information with anyone without your advance permission or unless ordered by a court of law. Information submitted to us is only available to employees managing this information for purposes of contacting you or sending you emails based on your request for information and to contracted service providers for purposes of providing services relating to our communications with you.

Physical Address:

Contact Fr. Shay Cullen at the Preda Center, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City, Philippines. e-mail: preda@info.com.ph, newsletters@preda.org

(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times,
in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)
http://www.preda.org/en/news/fr-shays-articles/can-we-believe-and-achieve-the-resurrection/

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[People] How We Help End Hunger by Fr. Shay Cullen

How We Help End Hunger

by Fr. Shay Cullen

Hiking through the Zambales hills visiting the villages of the Aeta indigenous people is an exhilarating and yet saddening experience. I have been thinking about my recent visits to the villages of the aboriginal people that first settled the Philippine islands and survived for thousands of years as hunters and gatherers in the abundant rain forests. Today, their future is uncertain and fraught with danger.

There, they developed a simple but beautiful culture that was at one with nature. They never over-hunted; their numbers were well-balanced for survival and healthy living. They had a well developed herbal medical practice that helped them survive thousands of years like the natives of the Amazon forests without modern medicine or much contact with the western world.

They protected the natural habitat and the native birds and animals thrived. Their cultural dances imitate the creatures of the forest such as their respect for nature. Today, all that has changed, the forests and animals are long gone and a greatly diminished environment is all that remains.

When the American-Spanish war broke out in 1898 and soon became the American-Filipino war, 90 percent or more of the rainforests were intact. Today, there is hardly three percent left, all have been logged out and mostly shipped abroad. After the World War II, the logging hardly ever stopped still today it continues. In Pangasinan on Western Luzon Island, a fifty kilometer road has been cut there the last remaining rainforest.

Loggers are still at it and either the government agencies are in cahoots or totally inept to stop it. In the village of Hukay, Calatagan Batangas, huge swaths of mangrove have been cut to shreds damaging the land, causing erosion and the ocean to invade the rice fields and causing a huge loss to the agriculture in the area. Food loss is the result, hunger soon follows.

Their survival depends on mixed farming and the bonus of the mango harvest. They too are facing food crises as prices of rice and other essential commodities increase and the prices that they get for their root crops, bananas, wild honey and mangos have been getting lower. Traders exploit them without compassion. It is only the Preda Fair Trade that buys from them at just and fair prices and delivers some social benefits to enhance their lives and help some of their children go to school. Government services and help hardly ever reach them.

They are part of the 4.5 million Filipinos who say they go hungry from time to time and part of the one billion people seriously hungry all the time worldwide. When drought hits, the result of climate change due to industrial pollution, famine can overwhelm them in a few months. That’s when the rains fail and the soil turns to dust blown in the wind. That’s when you see the skeletons of dead cattle and emaciated skeletal babies dying in their mother’s arms.

As I said in a previous column, 300 children die every hour every day worldwide for the lack of food. Malnutrition is with us and the millennium goal to eliminate or greatly reduce this hunger will not be reached by 2015.

The poor people in the developing world are facing a growing food crises that is getting more serious. Most of them do not have fertile land or the means to plant and nurture it. The best lands are owned and protected and unused by rich and wealthy families. It is investment in property for them not land to use for growing food.

Besides, even unused public land is not distributed with the means to help poor families grow their own food, they are turning the land into housing projects for the rich or they are leasing the land to foreign companies for food production to be shipped back to foreign lands.

There will be an additional 2.5 billion people in the world by 2050, how can they survive? If we act now and get involved with the agencies fighting the world hunger through Fair Trade and social justice, we can help halt the destruction of the environment and end chronic hunger. This we cannot ignore, we cannot turn away, we have to stand up for them and help them overcome the food crises. END
Need Help? Contact:

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Privacy Policy:

We will never share, sell, or rent individual personal information with anyone without your advance permission or unless ordered by a court of law. Information submitted to us is only available to employees managing this information for purposes of contacting you or sending you emails based on your request for information and to contracted service providers for purposes of providing services relating to our communications with you.

Physical Address:

Contact Fr. Shay Cullen at the Preda Center, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City, Philippines. e-mail: preda@info.com.ph, newsletters@preda.org

(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times,
in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)
http://www.preda.org/en/news/fr-shays-articles/how-we-help-end-hunger/