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Lesson of the Widow's Mite

Sr. Arcelita works for St. Paul Hospital Cavite in Dasmarinas City in the Philippines. Every day she reminds herself of the story of the widow who donated her only two coins to the treasurer. “I know there can be many ways to meet the challenge of the Paris climate pact and we hope that we are able to contribute our ‘widow’s mite’ initiatives.” With only a little, Sr. Arcelita and St. Paul’s has already done a lot. 

The hospital just constructed a new MRF, or materials recovery facility, so that garbage can be sorted and segregated. Biodegradable waste is being composted by using vermi worms, an African night crawler that breaks down organic matter. 

They have installed a facility to treat waste water, which they then use for toilets and to water their garden. “And to preserve our deep well-water supply,” Sr. Arcelita told us, “we do rainwater harvesting and have it treated also so it can be used in the bathrooms.” 

St Paul hopes one day to install solar panels. They intend to spend the savings they would make “for the many poor patients who come for treatment.” But even with the dream still in the future, that hasn’t stopped them from lowering their electricity consumption. “We have shifted to LED lights and Aircon units with inverters,” an energy efficient form of air-conditioning.  

Sr. Arcelita hopes that 2017 can be a healthier year for “Mother Earth.” And just like the widow with her two coins, she and St. Paul Hospital proves that you can do a lot with a little.

In the United States, the Catholic health ministry has formed a partnership with sponsors, systems, facilities and with experts in environmental responsibility to reduce the environmental burden of the health care they provide. To learn more about how your medical facility can more fully live out its call to "do no harm," please visit Catholic Health Association's environmental responsibility webpage

And to learn more about how climate change degrades our individual health and the health of our communities, please watch our webinar "The Growing Crisis: Climate Change's Impacts on Human Health."

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