Venus C. Vega


By Venus C. Vega

The author is a pre-novice with the Columban Sisters

This reflection started with a very simple question, ‘What do you do in your place of ministry?’ ‘I clean leaves by the sackful’, I said. My workplace is in Marikina, about an hour’s ride from where I live. The Tuason Community Center Foundation, Inc is dedicated to empowering women and so most of the workers there are women who are considered poor and marginalized. Except for the few who do administrative work, the rest are non-professionals.

Cleaning leaves by the sackful

Once a week I go to work in the Center as part of my pre-novitiate formation program. One section in the Center is dedicated to the production of herbal medicine. This is where I was assigned. The first time I entered the room where I was to work, I saw nothing but sacks and sacks of dried leaves. My task was to clean the leaves – one by one. The more leaves I clean, the more capsules the workers can produce, and the more money they bring home to their families. My companions are fast workers; they produce as many as 1,000 capsules a day. Naturally, I was nervous the first few days at the Center. I was very slow in cleaning the leaves. I was very cautious. I was fingering each leaf carefully, afraid I might tear it up, as the leaves were very brittle. At the end of each day I felt very, very tired.