Serawai Mission… Carved in My Heart!

The Sisters of Yohanes Gabriel Community live in a modest house, situated in a small forest, built on a hill along the banks of the Melawi river in Serawai, West Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo. Electricity is only at night, from 6PM to 6AM. While the Sisters help in the evangelization work of the Parish by going to villages on a small boat along the river or on foot passing through the forest and climbing hills, their main mission is to serve 120 school girls, 12 – 16 years of age, who are sent by their parents to the Junior High School run by the Congregation of the Mission; most are Catholics, some belong to other Christian denominations. These girls dream of having good and higher education… and be able to help their families in the future.  

These young women may be considered poor, both spiritually and materially. They lack knowledge and their values in life are not well-rooted. Journeying with them is difficult because of differences in culture – among themselves and with the Sisters; their parents are often also sources of conflict.  

Fortunately, the environment is healthy: fresh, clean air, trees that give shade, waterfalls, quiet and calm – nature that has not been violated by companies in the name of profit and business. Most of the population are farmers and miners of gold and sand; some are teachers. They manually cultivate land, working hard “with the strength of their arms and the sweat of their brows” in order to earn their daily sustenance; their lifestyle is very simple. This atmosphere helps the Sisters in creating a balanced Community life.

But there is work to be done! The girls are greatly influenced by what they see in and hear from society. So, we teach them basic skills like cooking, planting vegetables, cleaning the house, personal hygiene, etc., we also train them in caring for our “common home” and, more importantly, we share Vincentian values with them. Our mission is to accompany them to be better equipped for the future, not only for a life lived in a healthy and sustainable manner but also for one that is deeply rooted in Gospel/Vincentian values.

As for me, I would like to carve in my heart all the valuable things in my mission. In Christ nothing impossible! With the Community and in the Community, I will live faithfully and joyfully the service to those who are poor in my mission in Serawai.

Sr. Irene, DC

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