Despite the pandemic and numerous lockdowns, Sanlakbay (One Journey), a special program of Caritas Manila, is set to celebrate it’s 5th year founding anniversary since it’s conception through the initiative of then Manila Cardinal Chito Tagle.

            It is expected the newly appointed Cardinal Jose Advincula will lead the Eucharistic celebration on October 23, 2021,9 am at Diocesan Shrine and Parish of Sto. Nino de Tondo. 

Other invited guests were; Ricojudge Echiverri, USEC for Anti-Illegal Drugs, External and Legislative Affairs, DDB Chairman Catalino S. Cuy, PDEA Director General Wilkins M. Villanueva, and PNP Police General Guillermo Eleazar.

Other guests from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM) expected to attend are Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church) Parish Priest and Rector Rev. Msgr.  Hernando Coronel, Caritas Manila Executive Director Fr. Antonio Pascual. Members of Civic groups such as Rotary Club of Makati is an active supporter of Sanlakbay and are also expected to grace the event with their presence.

            Sanlakbay is a pastoral accompaniment designed primarily for people who use illegal drugs. Ever since its conception since 2016, there had been 1,417 drug addicts who enrolled in the program. This was not easy. Trust among stakeholders need to be established. Despite the many challenges, sanlakbay became the opportunity for the Church, the government and different civilian groups become united towards a common goal.

However, this pandemic brought about by Covid-19 virus, poised a different trial for the program and for the enrollees. Face to face meetings were temporarily banned, social distancing were enforced and most communications became reliant to technology. These changes go directly against the needs of a struggling drug addict who needs constancy and personal connection with people.

            But God used this situation to open another opportunity. BJMP officials continued the program using the sanlakbay modules to inmates inside Manila City Jail. This also resulted to the formation of a new brief intervention for Plea Bargainers. These are people who were released by the court and as a response to their plea, the government orders them to attend an intervention through Sanlakbay program as a start of their rehabilitation process. Currently, there are 88 plea bargainers who finished the course. Sanlakbay Support and Recovery Center continues to be open for walk-ins who needed assistance.

            Aside from counselling and modular sessions, through the cooperation of private companies and individuals, Sanlakbay was able to provide some much needed food and non-food assistance for Kalakbays. end