Once we were 7 years old…
“Creating a world where no child goes to bed hungry.” –a familiar phrase yet not seriously taken by most of us including myself. Different organizations and government across the globe have existed through the years and are eager in addressing poverty especially hunger and malnutrition, yet most of them put little focus on the innocent little ones.
Feed the Children is one of the few non-government organization that aims to address malnutrition of the children across the globe, not just the lack of food per se but includes the lack of education, lack of proper health education and clean water, lack of livelihood within the community and also to provide assistance during disasters. And to be part of this organization is a an honor and eye-opening and heart-melting experience to me.
However, I admit my expectations on the organization is quite different. Like most of us, by the name “Feed the Children” I thought that by the whole one month internship experience I will be at the streets, schools, and adaption centers feeding children. But on the day we were deliberated, I was shocked. It’s not the common notion of “feeding” wherein you go out there and bring food (lugaw, bread, milk) to the hungry little ones but Feed the Children is geared on providing sustainable assistance to the children who are tested by the bitter life they are born into. They don’t directly give money or food and supplies to the parents but the organization finds companies or individuals who are willing to sponsor the education and needs of the children and in return the parents should be part of the livelihood assistance given to them by the organization because its not forever that the sponsor will shoulder the needs of their children and the children also has to play its role by studying hard, maintaining good grades and eat healthy food and supplements in order to be healthy again.
Being an intern of the sole branch of Feed the Children here in the Philippines is fulfilling already, at least that was I thought before, but in one week in the organization I started thinking already that I am starting to feel “human” to exist not for myself only but also for others. In our first few days, we sat in the conference room for hours reading the untold stories of the scholars of the organization and do a narrative report on it. I though it was a boring task for a first timer intern but as my eyes and lips read across the lines and paragraphs of the raw letters written by the children themselves talking about how life can be cruel to them even in the beginnings of their journey in this world.
There was one letter of a boy that really touches my heart, a letter full of misspelled words and grammatically poor sentences yet filled with innocence and gratefulness. He is sponsored by Feed the Children Japan and when I read his letter I was literally crying, I can see the innocence in his letter and of how grateful he is to his sponsor for without them he cannot go to school and being in the school according to him is a very great deal for it is the only way he can help his family from poverty. He never misses to write “ma’am/sir” in every sentence and in that single phrase I can see how humble and grateful he is. A sentence in his letter goes like this “Maayo man ako sa skwela ma’am/sir pero ig project nah wala na koy maikabang-ga ana. Di man gud si mama makapalit og project nako og unta ig Grade 4 nako wala na untay science project kay wala mi kwarta para ana.” Here, I was partly ashamed of myself taking for granted the money and materials things my parents gave me. And I know in my stay at the organization, it’s not the children who gains knowledge from me but it is me who gains lesson in life with them. On the last part of his letter, he requested to the sponsor if ever they are in search for children to be sponsored his siblings are in need, he says, “Unta inyo pud sponsoran akoang mga igsoon para dili na maglisod si mama.” An innocent little one yet full of inspiration and motivation to meet his dreams not just for himself but for his family, most especially for his mother.
From Wednesday until Friday, we stayed in the staff house. Spending our days packing school supplies for the kids. It was not an easy task because we have to pack many school supplies to be given to a hundred plus scholars from different schools and communities. The weather is so hot that it is sometimes uncomfortable to work, my back hurts sometimes, our pants and feet were covered of dust and dirt but in the end of the day we went home happy. It is one thing that Feed the Children Phil. gave to me, a sense of purpose, that in my own little ways I can help our brothers and sisters and making this world a better place. Plus we get to eat Kuya Roy’s champorado with vitamins every afternoon.
And just this morning, we went to Pasil Elementary School and Guadalupe Elementary School to distribute the bags, uniform and school supplies we prepared for them. I woke up early in the morning so that I won’t be late and I didn’t eat my breakfast, but as we rode in the organization’s car together with Ms. Bing and other staffs and volunteers I forgot how sleepy and hungry I am. We talked and laughed in the car, by then I didn’t meet co-workers but I made new friends. Friends that are very dedicated in their cause and are ready to help us and guide us through our internship.
We arrived in the school and we are greeted by innocent smiles of the children waiting with their parents and are excited to receive the small gifts we have for them. I was assigned to distribute the gift certificate for their shoes and I can see how a pair of free shoes can lighten their day. Our distribution ended in a ngoyiong eatery were Ms. Bing treated us free lunch and in their we talked for hours.
Ms. Bing always reminds us that they chose to fight hunger and malnutrition even though it is hard because they know that it is the right to do. I hope that I can gather more experiences and lessons throughout this internship and I am looking forward to my next weeks in the organization because who can’t resist to witness the smiles from our innocent treasures. — Yours Truly