TEN years ago, I met social worker Virgie Daniles from Caritas Manila. She deals with inmates and convicted prisoners, both of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) and the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW), extending paralegal assistance, boost their spiritual life, and even do some errands for them.
Virgie said it was God’s plan that drove her to do social work. She fills in the vacant post at the Prison Justice and Development Program (PJDP) of Caritas at the time when no one seems to fit in the job.
“Maybe due to lack of enough exposure in dealing with inmates and convicted prisoners,” she shared.
(Caritas is a 55-year-old charitable institution run by the Catholic Church in Pandacan, Manila.)
Since Virgie is dealing with almost all kinds of offenders in the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) or the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW), she discovered that many of the inmates were wrongfully accused and rejected by their own families.
Virgie’s works extend from paralegal assistance to reuniting families separated by imprisonment.
The woman recounts an instance where she had to accompany an ex-convict to a bus terminal that would take the person back to his province. She and other volunteers also helped in reuniting an inmate mother to her child whom she had not seen for a long time. The child at present is under the custody of the institution since relatives refused to take care of him.
Virgie also shared a story about a dejected person whom she helped recover.
The man came from an affluent family, was a drug dependent and committed various crimes. For three instances he was placed behind bars. His siblings also blamed him for the death of their parents. Also a dispute among his relatives about a piece of land aggravated his depression.
But persistent counseling from Virgie and her group finally changed the man’s outlook in life.
Their client now works as a janitor in an institution and is an active participant in spiritual activities held by social workers and volunteers for prisoners.
With a smile on her face, Virgie said they still conduct follow up counseling to ensure that the man will be okay.
She heaved a sigh of relief every time she recounts the same story, “there is fulfillment in helping other people.”
My story first appeared in Courier, the flagship newspaper of the Philippine Journalists, Incorporated in Oct. 2000.