Photo: Children enrolled in our program were happy to participate in our sports festival, where they divided into four teams: Love, Hope, Strength, and Wisdom.
We are happy to report that after a successful school year which ended in April, the children at our Manila Children’s Hope Center in the Payatas Landfill Colony are enjoying a fun summer break before school begins again on June 5th. Our faithful director, Malaya, and the teachers and volunteers organized a Sports Festival for the children on May 13th. The theme of the Sports Festival was “Empowering and Strengthening Payatas Children and Youth to Achieve Unity as a Team through Sports.” Our 80 children were divided in to 4 teams of 20 children each, and each team represented 4 virtues: Love, Hope, Strength, and, Wisdom. Before the games started, they had 30 minutes of singing and their local pastor taught on the meaning of the four virtues. The boys competed in basketball, and the boys and girls competed in games such as tug of war, track & field activities, Tailing the Cat, relay races, and sack races.
After the games, the children were evaluated and asked what they learned from the experience. One child answered about the virtue of hope: “You should have courage and do not give up when almost losing the game or even losing the game. Another child said: “Win or lose, we still have love each other and always put our hearts in the games — love the team member and other teams.” All of the children were awarded certificates for participating in the Sports Festival. The children who won during the games were also given prizes like candy and chocolates, which were wonderful treats. The children also enjoy special meals such as rice with chicken adobo and chicken menudo and orange juice prepared by one of our loving volunteers and some of the parents. This delicious food gave the children a lot of energy to enjoy playing the games in the Sports Festival.
The 80 children currently enrolled in our Hope Center program will continue to receive tutoring from our 2 teachers and 3 volunteers during the summer break, enabling them to begin the next school year in June well-prepared to pursue their education as they study the subjects of the Filipino language (reading, writing, speaking, and comprehending), English (reading and writing, especially to the younger children), mathematics (working on basic to complex math problems), and science. We are also focusing on the problem of illiteracy amongst impoverished children since our older children enrolled in the program cannot read well, and the younger children cannot easily identify numbers or letters.
Photo inset: (Top-left): Children who participated in our Manila Children’s Hope Center Sports Festival enjoyed a special meal of rice and chicken. (Top-right): Basketball, tug of war, and relay races were some of the many fun games the children competed in at the Sports Festival. (Bottom-left): Each team at the Sports Festival represented 4 virtues: Love, Hope, Strength, and Wisdom. (Bottom-right): Lailani is one of the many children enrolled in our Manila Children’s Hope Center, where she receives academic tutoring and fresh-cooked meals. She hopes to become a doctor one day.
By keeping the children successfully enrolled in school our continual hope is to protect them from as much of the extremely hazardous child labor that goes on in the Payatas Colony as possible, and also give them much better chances of avoiding the perils of human trafficking which currently plague Manila. Sadly, child labor as seen in the Payatas Colony seems normal in the local society. Children are not just being forced to work by their parents to earn money in a selfish or cruel manner, but some of the children volunteer to work in hazardous conditions to fulfill their family’s lack of food for a day. Most parents do not have proper jobs, thus they cannot provide for their children. And because these children’s eyes have been opened to the harsh reality of their situation, they believe “they must” help to earn money to help their family eat for a day.
We’d like to share the story of one of these precious children, 9-year-old Lailani, who will be promoted to the 4th grade in June.
When school ended in April, she was happy to win the “Most Behaved” award. Lailani has 5 siblings. Many afternoons, she and her younger sister can be found selling cassava cakes worth 20 cents each, which are handmade by their mother when they can afford the ingredients. However, they usually do not have the budget for making the cassava cakes, so Lailani and her sister are often in the garbage area looking for bottles to sell — a full sack of bottles sold to a junk shop earns them $1. Lailani is very persistent to earn money to help her parents. Her parents were not able to pursue their education after the 5th grade, thus they are both scavengers as well earning just $2 each day.
When one of our volunteers at the Hope Center asked Lailani why she wants to find junk even if it’s not safe for her to do so at her age, she said, “I just want to contribute a little to my mother to have rice and a meal for the day. And also I can sometimes buy snacks on my own if I feel hungry.” Lailani, her parents, and her 5 siblings live in a heartbreaking state of poverty. Her mother said, “I am thankful that she can help us to have additional money for our food, but I never force her to do this. I can’t give well the good life but I’m still doing my best to keep us from having nothing.” Despite all of this, Lailani wants to become a doctor one day so that she can help those who are sick. She is a dreamer, and a kind and lovely child.
Lailani is very thankful to be enrolled in our Children’s Hope Center program where she receives academic tutoring, and she can also learn on the computers and get snacks and a fresh-cooked meal such as spaghetti, before going home for the day. She says, “I am eager to attend the program because of the spaghetti fed to me before tutoring. I love the spaghetti and wish we could have more.” Lailani and her family are grateful for the Children’s Hope Center because they feel cared for and have hope and sometimes it helps them to forget their life of poverty. Her mother said, “Thank you for sharing your blessings with us. The Hope Center program could change our life from a down life to a good life.”
We are very grateful for your prayers and faithful support which makes all that we do for children such as Lailani possible, our greatest hope being to break the cycle of poverty and rescue all of the children from child labor.
Take a Closer Look: view more photos from this project and others