Fr. Mick Sinnott started a center for children with special needs, called the Hangop Kabataan Foundation, in 1998, in Pagadian City, Philippines. The school serves dozens of children with differing abilities and special needs, including the severely challenged and deaf. Hangop means to reach out or embrace, and kabataan means children. Fr. Mick recently updated us on the school—a year after his kidnapping and release by a handful of extremists—with this message:
October 11 marked the first anniversary of my kidnapping, and I was released on November 12, 2009, in the Philippines. After the release I went home to Ireland in early December for five weeks and the media interviewed me there extensively. I returned to Pagadian in the Philippines in mid-January, 2010, and after a day or two it felt as if I had never been out of the place. I quickly fell back into the old routine, suffering no ill effects from the kidnapping, and life went on as normal in Pagadian from January through July.
The good news is the duties for the Hangop Kabataan Foundation have been handed over to the local staff. They will run it in conjunction with a Board of Management, of which I am still a member help as a consultant. It is only an hour and a half drive from Ozamiz to Pagadian so I will be able to visit the school frequently.
The Program itself continues to go well and we have the usual numbers coming every day. When we began the program in 1998, I renovated an old building of the diocese and, as the need arose, we built five more classrooms. Shortly before I left Pagadian this year, however, the local diocese needed the land to build a new school, so we had to look for a new premises, and decided to purchase the former Columbans house.
We Columbans have become very thin on the ground out here, as the local Church grows, but we still soldier on in service to the People of God in the Philippines where we are needed.
God bless all our generous donors, and every best wish!
Fr. Mick Sinnott