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“Father Gerald, Elisa and Amabel are very active and help us to grow in our faith. We learn more about prayer and how to pray,” she says. “We can relate everything they talk about to our own lives. It’s really amazing what they share. They are our inspiration.

“Jordan is not our country. Sometimes you are alone, and you feel unhappy. We need these people and this kind of community to lift our spirits and refresh our minds,” she says, adding how fortunate she was in finding her faith community.

Ms. Salas accompanies Father Gerald on visits to a safe house run by the Filipino Embassy in Amman. The house shelters mainly women who have been abused by their employers and who are awaiting flights to return home to the Philippines.

“Once they are out of the shelter, they send me thank-you messages,” says Father Gerald of the notes that remind him of the critical need for this pastoral work.

“‘Father, because of you, we were able to last out our days in the shelter,’” he remembers one such message. “‘Otherwise, we were going to commit suicide.’

“There have already been some cases of suicide,” he adds, visibly upset. He attributes such cases to abusive employers who restrict the workers from any form of relief — church, friends or community.

“Many ask if I get tired,” Ms. Estrada says of her work providing near-constant support to the community. “If you are in love, you may get physically tired, but deep inside, you are happy because you are able to do something.”

Ms. Estrada recalls the story of one woman who now lives in Canada. The woman sent her a text message to thank her for loving her despite her own transgressions. Through the Teresians’ steadfast accompaniment, the message said, her life was transformed.

“I tell them when they come to church to speak with Jesus during the Eucharist. He is the one who is responsible for their future because he says that he would never leave us or forsake us.

“I remind them of this,” Ms. Estrada says.

“What people need is laughter, joy and support.”

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Based in the Middle East, Dale Gavlak has reported for CNEWA from Iraq, Egypt and Jordan.



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