“Our goal is to let the poorest of the poor know someone cares – that God has not forgotten them but loves them”.
The Digital Catholic Missioner’s team recently interviewed Frankie Burg-Feret who is one of the people in charge of the Silent Children’s Mission (SCM), an organization whose primary mission is to alleviate the suffering of those who have no voice, especially women, children and their families. Its goal is to help in covering the basic needs of the poorest of the poor they provide food, education, health care, spiritual help and counseling so that these people can live a dignified life and so that they develop in fullness.
Frankie is married and is the mother of three children. She is a nurse and professor for the Bachelor of Nursing at Humber College, Canada. Her specialty is health care for mothers and children, she has been a nurse for 30 years and has worked in both nursing and academia. She is the Executive Director of Silent Children’s Mission, where, together with religious people, seek to help the poorest of the poor with the charisma of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Frankie has traveled to many countries so that SCM can provide support where it is needed the most. Her call as secular Franciscan is to help the poorest, the sick, the abandoned and the abused. We present our readers this interesting and motivating interview that Frankie gave exclusively to DCM. We ask all our readers to put SCM in their prayers, also at the end there is a link where anyone who wishes can contribute directly to SCM.
What’s SCM, tell us more about the story.
Dr. Andrew Simone, a Harvard educated dermatologist and his wife Joan are the founders of two charities in Toronto, Canada (Canadian Food for Children and Silent Children’s Mission). It was after a conversion experience in the 1970s when they felt God was asking them to give away all their belongings and to live like the poor by relying on Divine Providence for their needs. At that time, they also began to work with Mother Teresa. Andrew and Joan are members of the Order of Canada (a prestigious Canadian honour) and have each received the Papal Cross and Doctorate of Sacred Letters among many other awards and they are both members of the Secular Franciscan Order. This humble, devoutly Catholic couple have also raised 13 children.
In 1980, they were working as co-workers of the Missionaries of Charity and as treasurer for North America. Mother Teresa wrote to them and asked them to send food to the poor in Tanzania and Ethiopia where people were suffering from malnutrition due to severe drought. Food could not be purchased in these poor countries and the food they sent was a tremendous blessing. Soon there was more food than the MOC sisters could receive so with the approval of Mother Teresa, CFFC became an official charity in 1985. Presently the charity sends about 350 containers of food to more than 20 developing countries throughout the world. Silent Children’s Mission was founded as a sister charity to CFFC (and became an official charity in 2011). Most of the missionaries we serve are Catholic priests and religious and often they are unable to receive containers due to their location in far rural areas or because of corrupt governments. SCM sends monetary help for school fees, feeding programs, health care, and self-sustaining projects etc. We do not spend money on advertising, we work solely with volunteers and no one receives payment for their work as our time is freely given. We rely on the Holy Spirit to move the hearts of people to help, very much in the way Mother Teresa guided her organization. She is truly the first founder of this charity!
Why the name Silent Children’s Mission and how do you decide who needs help and where?
The name was chosen by Joan and Andrew because neglected and abused children living in poor countries have no voice – they are silent. It is our belief that we must be their voice in the world and this is reflected in our mission statement and vision.
“Our goal is to let the poorest of the poor know someone cares – that God has not forgotten them but loves them. Through various means we provide basic needs, education, healthcare, spiritual care and counseling so they can live a life of dignity and have the opportunity to develop their soul.” (visit our website for more)
We have long-standing relationships with priests, religious and Catholic laity in Liberia, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana, Rwanda, Bosnia Hercegovina, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador, Philippines, and Haiti. It is the missionaries who guide us to those most in need as they understand and know their communities best. According to our resources we assist them in their work. In order to remain transparent and accountable the missionaries must sign an agreement to use the donation as written and they must provide follow-up reports. We visit when we can as we recognize the importance of building sustainable, loving, relationships to accomplish our mutual goals.
What projects are you working with right now? Tell us more about the upcoming projects
We support a successful farming project in Malawi! SCM provided the funds to purchase 76 acres in Malawi where Sr. Bernadette has transformed the dry barren land into a working farm that includes acres of maize, vegetables, banana and mango trees, pigs, chickens and cows. This is an on-going project and our most recent addition was a maize grinder for the people living in the surrounding villages to use. The farm has provided jobs for local villagers and food for the neediest. The farm has generated a profit through the small fees for use of the maize grinder and the sale of eggs; as a result, Sr. Bernadette is now able to provide assistance with school fees for some poor children.
We are assisting the locals to build St. Luke’s School for the children in the rural area. Many of the children do not attend school and many suffer from malnutrition and health related issues. The poverty in Haiti is deep rooted and the people need to know that someone cares about them. SCM is making a difference in this small village!
La meta de este programa incluye un programa de alimentación para los desnutridos y niños enfermos, así como proveer educación para los niños y sus madres.
Apoyamos a los aldeanos a construir la escuela St. Luke para los niños del área. Muchos niños no van al colegio y sufren desnutrición y problemas de salud. La pobreza en Haiti es muy grande y las personas necesitan saber que alguien se preocupa por ellos.
Tell us more about the letter from Saint Mother Teresa, any anecdotal story?
The letter below is a copy of the first request by Mother Teresa to the Simones to send food to Ethiopia and Tanzania. It is one of many letters they received over the years and included words of direction and encouragement.
A quote from another letter hangs above my office desk and provides me with much comfort. “Be only all for Jesus through Mary. Be sure – Jesus loves you with a tender love – you are precious to Him. The work you are doing is only all for the glory of God and the good of the children. Don’t allow any other thought to enter your heart. For God is using nothingness to show His greatness.
How has your personal relationship with God changed since you started to work with the project and how is it now?
Gratefully, I am always changing and this work has forced me to reflect more deeply on the gifts God has given me and how I use my gifts to glorify God and to build His kingdom. I also work as a professor in a Bachelor of Nursing program and so my world is among thoughtful academics, yet rarely with those who view the world through a Catholic lens. It can be lonely at times and I have been criticized for feeding poor children because some believe by doing so, developing nations will become reliant on the West. Many people say our energy should be focused locally. I have reflected on my beliefs and I recognize that my world view has been influenced by Catholic teaching on social justice, my vocation as a Secular Franciscan and my personal relationship with Jesus. As a cradle Catholic, I was taught we are all brothers and sisters. SCM actively supports sustainable projects, however if a small child in rural Zambia is starving – shouldn’t it be our first priority to feed that child now? Isn’t that what Jesus asks us to do? I know this is true and God asks us to trust that He will provide everything we need in order to do His will.
And now – after many years of working with this charity, I realize I must be more reliant on God. I still struggle between relying on Divine Providence and my human nature to control what is happening around me. However, the work inspires me to always strive for a closer, trusting relationship with God as I journey through life.
How people can collaborate with SCM, make donations or get involved with this beautiful project?
- Fast and pray for the poor! Join us along with many of our benefactors and missionaries on the eighth of every month. Among many joining us are the Franciscan Poor Clares in Lusaka Zambia, they are a cloistered order whose special calling is to pray for God’s people on earth. We are united in a special way each month using the most important weapon in the fight against poverty and injustice – prayer!
- Love others!
“Love is a one-way street. It always moves away from self in the direction of the other. Love is the ultimate gift of our selves to others. When we stop giving we stop loving, when we stop loving we stop growing, and unless we grow we will never attain personal fulfillment; we will never open out to receive the life of God. It is through love we encounter God.” Mother Teresa, Where There is Love, There is God p. 26 .
- Offer monetary assistance.
In Guatemala, you can contact Fr. Michael Della Penna, Spiritual Director of SCM www.valleyoftheangelsorphanage.com
In Canada, you can contact Frankie Burg-Feret, Executive Director of SCM www.silentchildrensmission.com