We were all looking forward to a celebration where we can enjoy the day as women workers together with all other workers like us. A festival of workers was conceived to celebrate the SSJ Feast of honoring St. Joseph, the worker but not on the 1st of May because there was the gathering of the SSJ, Lay Josephines and vocation prospects. All of us needed time to prepare for the festival because we have integrated fundraising activities.
It was then on Pentecost Sunday (May 15, 2016) that we had the Workers’ Festival from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Guests started to arrive as early as 1:00 p.m. They are family members. friends, relatives, workmates, skills training students and the SSJ from Korobosea.
Prayer led by Nikita Karo started off the festival at 2:30 p.m. After the emcee, Claire Ayong, gave a brief orientation on the place, she called on Yolanda, ssj to share the meaning and significance of the festival. She developed the theme of the harmony of prayer and work with rest and relaxation as an important element presenting St. Joseph as our example and guide as he worked in the presence of Jesus and Mary. The audience was drawn to the meaning and value of work and the invitation that each one can be saint through work done with love, in union with the redeeming work of Jesus and as a way of positive change in oneself, with others and in the society.
After a while, the residents signaled that their guests were ready to buy their cooked traditional food in their kiosk area and so time was given for them to go around, buy the food they want and have some time for their meal. Monica and Rossel (SSJ) did the same and enjoyed what was being sold and served. Tickets were also sold for the Instant Raffle Draw. This is the fundraising part of the festival for the upgrading of the residents’ sports facilities.
Then, the residents showcased Pacific and traditional dances as they were grouped into the four PNG Regions- MOMASE, Highlands, New Guinea Islands and Southern Region. Each group came out in colorful outfits and presented lively dances. The SSJ-PNG sang three Filipino songs: Bahay Kubo, Leron Leron Sinta and Sa Libis ng Nayon.
The raffle draw of instant prizes came last and the audience was looking forward to win and receive prizes. All the prizes were drawn out in four categories (K2.00, K5.00, K10.00 and K15.00 tickets). The items that were solicited from few companies were things that are practical and useful for the worker like food hampers, flashlight, backpack, cartons of biscuits, umbrellas, caps, working tools, etc. Natasha Kau, the Fundraisers’ Committee Head handed the prizes to the winners.
It was a festive and familial gathering where each one felt at home and happy to have received good prizes. It was at 4:30 when the guests started leaving the hostel. This gave chance to the residents and sisters to enjoy the rest of the afternoon. They had community dancing and all enjoyed. At 6:00 p.m., the program ended.
This also gave them the chance to share feedback and experiences of the event. There was a resident who affirmed that we need to have time for rest and relaxation instead of just working all the time and come home to the hostel very tired and sleep. Certain relatives observed how nice the place was, how happy the residents are and how good it was to see the residents helping each other. After the event, we gathered that this provided the residents to know one another and strengthen their bonding with each other.
Nikita reflected on the event as follows: “The Workers’ Festival was a festival of dance, graphic arts, spoken words, presentation of all kinds of traditional dances prepared by the residents and lots of music… practically anything that can be interpreted as an artistic expression of the workers’ voice. It was the celebration of the artistic and the spiritual culture of labor and working women, a commemoration of the kind of social justice and economic change that these great women endorsed.
As we, in the community, continue to share to each other what was said of the Workers’ Festival, what Bonifacia offered to her young women friends every Sunday afternoon resounded, as these young women workers entrusted to us saw the value of having this healthy recreation and faith enriching get-together. Indeed, it gave us all the time just to be, celebrating our talents and nurturing our being and rejuvenating the spirit of service under the protection and care of our Father, St. Joseph.