September 15

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I wanted to make a difference

Unlike most children who are born and taken care by their parents, many young Filpino children have never experienced it at all. These unfortunate ones don’t have the chance to feel the love of having a real mother on his or her side. The absence of a biological parent’s existence can leave the abandoned child set up for a life of poverty and illness, not to mention emotional scars.

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Every Wednesday I volunteer at the Children’s Village in metro Manilla. Here children are given a mother and father figure, and offered a real family unit. Some have been on the streets, while others have fallen into far worse circumstances. These children always have a smile on their face despite what they’ve been thru. Their resilience is simply unbelievable.

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At the age of two year and a half, together with her three siblings, I met a young girl who was brought in the care of the Children’s Village.

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Now, teenagers, each is doing remarkably well. They are staying in school and getting a strong family foundation. Each plans to attend college.

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I greatly admire Mama Beth, the home mother, who cares for up to twelve children at a time. “When I first saw them, I said to myself that I will love them and treat them as my own. I will not do the same thing their parents did to them. The girls were so little and needed love and affection”, Mother Beth said of the first day she saw the girls.

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Children are raised by these loving house mothers as if their own flesh and blood. All the things a real mother would do are being done here. Grown children also come back and visit for holidays. Beth has 37 children and 6 grandchildren. Their pictures are proudly displayed.

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I provide food and teach the children skills on my visits. They are excited to learn a new skill and Beth was relieved that her food budget is a bit easier for the week.

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Most recently I taught them how to make meatballs and Dutch potato salad.

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The food was delicious and the kids took pride in the fact they made it.

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I also do a village wide activity. This week I taught oragami. The kids loved it.

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The children teach me things too. This week they tried to teach me to draw and hair braid. I’m afraid I completely lack any artistic ability. It was still fun and we all had a laugh at my drawings. I was given a beautiful drawing of myself autographed by the very talented girl.

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I also met a teenage boy, Benje. He is a high school student and was transferred in the facility wherein the boys aged 13 years old and above were living. This is the first step of teaching independency for the youths. Like what he promised Beth two years ago, he still continues his education and studies very hard. Every time he gets a high score on his exams, he is given reward by the youth educator, who is presently the village director here. This kind of motivation is keeping teens on the right track. I met others who have passed high school and are ready to begin college in the fall.

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I also was able to interview the other mothers. There are twelve houses here, each with a mom and ten to twelve children. “Aside from the fact that I love children, I do this because I wanted to make a difference.” Lisa, another mother, told me. Indeed she is creating a sustainable change, and teaching the children disciple. Each has daily chores.

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This work requires patience and is very challenging. Aside from fully living in and managing a home independently, these moms also have to manage a very small budget to feed and clothe the children. An outstanding job is being done by all the house mothers. From the outside looking in, the youth are very happy. We rode swings and played basketball. You’d never believe each had a rough start in life.

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I am so excited to go here each week and see the sustainable changes being given to the village children. Adults raised in the village are regularly visiting their mother and siblings. The existing children take pride in their newly formed family. The mothers never give up. It is a great success journey that I’m proud to be able to experience.