Filipino church provides medicines for jail inmates

Members of the New Hill Burning Bush United Methodist Church distributed medicines to inmates at Camalig Meycauayan City Jail in Bulacan, Philippines.

The city jail, designed for just 90 detainees, has more than 200. Jails in the Philippines have space for housing 20,746 prisoners, but are actually housing 126,946, according to the Philippines Commission on Audit.

The overcrowding puts inmates at risk of acquiring communicable diseases like respiratory infections and boils, the commission said.

Pastor Jose Michael Villena, administrative pastor, said that God's faithfulness led the church to do mission and service.

"Because of what God has done for us, we offer our lives back to God through a life of service," he said.   

Villena emphasized the Wesleyan theological heritage of the church.

"As disciples, we become active participants in God’s activity in the world through mission and service. Love of God is always linked to love of neighbor and to a passionate commitment to seeking justice and renewal in the world." 

The jail ministry started in 2016 with the church providing personal hygiene items such as soap, toothbrushes, shampoo and toothpaste.  

There were 240 people in the jail then, crammed into a space designed to house 90 people. The inmates sleep in shifts and some pay others to get their sleep slot, Villena said.

The inmates asked the church members for help with medicine.

"We got overwhelmed with their situation, so we promised that we will go back and bring medicines," Villena said.

Villena said medicines were donated by the UNILAB Foundation, which tries to address gaps in health care in the Philippines. Dr. Emy Carreon, the medical doctor who was present during the visit with the inmates, also donated boxes of vitamins.

Carreon said the visit was her first to a jail and she was glad to help. 

"This is my first time to visit a jail, seeing personally the condition of all the inmates, crowded in a small four-corner room, most of them with cough and colds, boils or ‘pigsa.’ I feel sad for them, but nevertheless, I am glad I was able to be of help to them, even if it was only for a short time," she said.  

Medicines for cough, colds, boils, skin allergies, fever and pain, as well as vitamins, were distributed to 214 inmates, Villena said.

"We felt so blessed to give back blessings to 214 inmates, we are hoping that they will continue to trust God," he said.

Mangiduyos is a United Methodist News Service correspondent based in the Philippines. News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tennessee, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org

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