Bridget Cover

Canossa Health and Social Centre still serving some of the poorest families in the Philippines

With Christmas once again on the horizon, Catholic Mission is reflecting on the impact of your support of our 2016 Christmas Appeal.

In 2016, we shared with you the story of Bridget, a young girl from Tondo in the Philippines who has osteogenesis imperfecta - also known as brittle bone syndrome - and her grandmother Heide. At 68 years, Heide would carry seven-year-old Bridget everywhere, since the little girl's body could not support her own weight without fracturing. This made it impossible for Heide to earn an income to support the family

With health and financial challenges, Heide, Bridget and their family struggled on a daily basis, but thanks to your generous response to their story and support of the Canossa Health and Social Centre, Bridget, Heide and their family's lives were improved greatly.

Now, three years on, the Canossa Health and Social Centre is still serving the people of Tondo, meeting critical health and education needs and changing lives.

Canossa Health and Social Centre Overview


Children at the Canossa Health and Social Centre play in the courtyard

The Canossa Health and Social Centre (CHSC) exists to assist the poor in Tondo, a neighbourhood in one of the poorest areas of Manila, with basic access to health and social services that will empower them to become more self-reliant and better able to advocate for their needs. The Canossian Sisters who run the Centre, began their ministry in Tondo in 1971.

This Christmas, we are excited to share with you some updates from the CHSC that highlight how your gift back in 2016, had, and continues to have, an impact on the lives of many.

The primary aim of Catholic Mission's 2016 Christmas Appeal was to help the Canossian Sisters in their vital work providing training and services in health, nutrition and education.

Your support has helped the CHSC to enhance its sustainability, through providing funds for marketing its existing income generating activities (running livelihood and skills training for a small fee, producing uniforms for the local Canossian school, and selling a juice high in essential vitamins), as well as capacity-building of staff and volunteers in advocacy and networking.

Thanks to your donation, the CHSC was also able to continue its work improving access to education. The Sisters run entrepreneurial training at the CHSC and link people up with various local agencies that provide skills-based training, with an emphasis on improving entrepreneurial skills. The Sisters then play a critical role as an ongoing point of contact, and check in regularly to follow and support the progress of participants.

The project has been successful in fulfilling its original objectives as the CHSC continues to provide ongoing programs and activities that are addressing the basic health and socio-economic needs of disadvantaged families in the area.

The Centre’s activities and programs include outpatient admission; dental services; laboratory and x-ray/ECG services; maternity programs such as pre-natal checkups and a lactation support program; World Health Organisation recommended tuberculosis, directly observed treatment short course (TB DOTS) program for children and adults; feeding of malnourished children; public health education; and faith enrichment, offered through daily reflection on the Word of God and catechism.


A mother and her child receiving medical assistance from the Centre

The Philippines is defined by the World Health Organisation as a high tuberculosis (TB) burden country, with the disease being the sixth most common cause of death nationally.

While vaccines against the disease are mandated by government, social and environmental factors such as poor sanitation and nutrition, high density housing, and lack of education contribute to people being more prone to infection.

Thanks your support, children receiving TB therapy are being provided with nutritious foods and other medicines needed to treat this highly infectious disease and ensure effective and full recovery. Families of children and other patients under TB therapy are also given medical assistance as the need arises.


A busy clinic at the Canossa Health and Social Centre

Today, the CHSC is truly a hub of social connection and support in the region of Tondo. Not only does it provide vital health services, but it also facilitates skills-development and training for locals who are struggling to find and secure employment.

Overall, this project has benefited many people and the benefits are not restricted to the people the CHSC helps. Effectively treating and reducing the rates of disease in the city, as well as educating people about public health, sanitation and nutrition all have a big impact on the entire population.

Further to this, helping people to gain employable skills and find work is not only beneficial to the individual, but can also transform the lives of whole families and communities as Josephine Balanquit’s story demonstrates.

Impact story - Josephine


Josephine Balanquit is married with five children. Thanks to the Canossa Health and Social Centre, she received training in high-speed sewing and entrepreneurship, and is now working and earning an income to support her family.

Before starting her training at the CHSC, Josephine stayed in the family home, taking care of the children while her husband worked as a construction labourer. Sometimes, she would work as a house keeper in the homes of nearby families when her husband’s salary was not enough to support their five children attend school or provide for their daily needs. However this work was not steady or reliable.

Josephine enjoyed the company of other learners, which encouraged her to continue and persevere with the training to gain the skills taught in the course. She is thankful because it was always her dream to sew, even when she was still young, and she prayed for the chance to learn this skill.


Josephine with her colleagues in the sewing production room at the Canossa Health and Social Centre

Because of her high performance in the training, she was immediately asked if she wanted to work in the sewing centre at the CHSC, an opportunity she accepted with gratitude. In this job, she earns Php 1,000 weekly, which is a good amount to supplement her husband’s income and support her family. As a result, Josephine’s wellbeing and that of her family’s has greatly improved and they are in a much better position to provide for their needs and plan for the future.

Josephine dreams of having a machine of her own, so that she can work and earn in her house while taking care of her family. She also attended entrepreneurship training offered at the CHSC and is planning to join the local parish cooperative so that she can save for the future of her children.