On Sunday, 16th January 2010, a shantytown beside Manila’s port was ignited in a massive fire, killing a five-year-old girl, gutting over 500 shanties and leaving about 15,000 people homeless. The fire department officials said 1,000 homes were gutted in the sprawling Parola Compound, where several families often share tiny houses running along narrow alleyways.
Moments after the fire was put out, MAM volunteers in Philippines went to the affected areas and the emergency shelter with food and sacks of rice. Representing MAM, Br. Shantamrita and other volunteers visited Pace, Metro-Manila with Philippines Senator Jambi Madrigal to provide badly needed relief for over 1,000 families who had lost their homes.
While the team made their way through the impoverished narrow alleys and pathways, the children shouted “Bro!” to Br. Shantamrita, identifying him with the character in a Filipino soap opera series where a young boy would call upon Jesus to enable him to miraculously heal, addressing Jesus as “Bro”. Apparently, Br. Shantamrita’s appearance and kind demeanor made an impression and reminded Manila’s less fortunate that miracles begin with small acts of kindness. While distributing the relief packets, Senator Madrigal said that it was always gratifying to feel as a part of this human family and with Amma becoming the mother of everyone, all people became our ‘sis’ and ‘bro’.