My trip in June 2015 allowed me to pair along with one of the HOPE workers that was going on home visits to identify children that would greatly benefit from the Daycare Center that was being set-up. And once again I was made humble, realizing how much I have at home compared to these needy people. One house I vividly remember had barely any walls, in fact all it had was a TV, 2 mattresses and a small fan. And it was a family of 5 who lived there. Yes, they had little but they were happy with what they had.
It was hard work, walking under the sun, going from house to house. The heat definitely takes a toll on you eventually. I remember being so tired and hungry and the HOPE worker (her name was Roma Byen) had not even broke a sweat. She said she was used to working under the scorching sun, and that she was motivated by the children, to want to provide for them. She had a heart for the less fortunate.
I was not able to finish the entire house visiting with her as I had to head back to Singapore, but I did get to see the Daycare center in December 2015 when I came back. There was a fresh coat of paint on the walls and it was so well decorated with pictures of morals that kids should aspire to have. It was small, but it was enough for the 20 or so kids that came in that one morning.
I’m not the best with kids, in fact let me just say that I’m pretty bad with them. But seeing Teacher Jakie and Byen coordinate the children together, watching them rehearse for their Christmas dance and getting them to do coloring, I admit I would have lost my patience a long time ago. It takes so much patience to handle children. And they did it very well.
What surprised me was that the parents were involved in the cooking of the food for the children, which I thought was an excellent idea: get the parents involved with the daycare. It would help them build better relationships with the teachers and give them a sense of responsibility at the same time too.
Overall, being able to see the start and the end result of the daycare has been a satisfying experience. Just helping to serve the poor itself is a one of a kind experience that you can never forget. I’ll definitely never forget this experience.
Manfred Pua is a regular volunteer of the HOPE projects in Tacloban, Leyte. He is currently living in Singapore, but would take time to travel to the Philippines to do volunteer work.