On day five, we got to see a CDC in action. Even though it was Friday, and the center normally has programs on Saturdays, the teachers got permission from each and every student to skip school that day so that they could show us, the visitors, what a typical program day looked like. It was a rainy day… POURing actually. I think I got soaked trying to go to the bathroom a couple of times but this stands out to me as one of the best days.
The community was located in the outskirts of Manila and there was a LOT of traffic to get there… we had to climb a small mountain to get there, with lots of windy roads.
When we got there, the children welcomed us with their bigs smiles. We felt like celebrities… they were all standing in rows outside of the center and we passed them all as we walked into the church.
We split up into groups of four and went into different class rooms. The class I got to sit in was third graders. They were SO cute. Boys sat on one side and the girls sat on the other. Teacher Gina was their teacher. She taught them about vegetables and taught them English words. Another teacher told the kids a Bible story. Suellen had brought a craft activity so the kids made the crafts. There were no tables in the classroom so when the time came to do the crafts, the kids had to squat on the floor and use their chairs as tables.
There weren’t enough bottles of glue so the teacher had to pour some onto cardboard and the kids had to share even that. There weren’t enough scissors, so they had to take turns cutting, and there wasn’t enough string for the “hair” so the kids had to get one string each… yet, they were so happy and shared all the supplies so well. There was not much hogging or fussing over the materials.
When teacher Gina was starting the class, she was telling the kids what they were going to do that day and all of a sudden, she got all choked up and couldn’t talk. She turned around, wiped her eyes, and told us how the kids were SO excited for this day. How they were so happy that the visitors were here… and how they had been so excited as they prepared. I could see how much she loved the kids. She quickly composed herself and went on with the lesson. It was a brief moment, but one that is still very vivid in my mind.
One of the great things that Compassion does is that it provides jobs for many people in the community, in addition to helping the kids. Sure, a lot of the work of the centers get done by volunteers… but they also hire health workers and teachers, and case workers, to do all of the administrative tasks and documentation that is needed for the program.
At this center, I met Joyce, Abigail, and Jonah. They seemed like good friends and all kind of were fighting for my attention. They were so alive and vibrant… Joyce is the one to my right in the picture.
After the class, we gathered as a group, ate lunch, and had some other activities. At the end, we took pictures and I left my water bottle and an untouched can of coke where I sat with them… when we were finished taking the pictures, Joyce brought the unopened can of coke and the water bottle with the bit of water left, and handed them to me shyly. She could have easily taken that can but she knew that the cokes were for the visitors and she brought it to me. What a sweet-heart!!!!!!! The girl next to Joyce is Jonah, she is the pastor’s daughter.
I taught them how to make the pink shirt and afterwards, they gave them all to me… I think the teacher told them to… and they all gave me the “face” they made during craft time too. They were supposed to all be the smiling faces of the Compassion children. I was so overwhelmed when all the children came up to me and gave me their craft faces. They all had messages on the back too. Some of the children were great writers and wrote very sweet notes, thanking the sponsors and expressing their gratitude.
During the class time, this girl caught my eye.
I think her name is Abigail. Anyway, she turned her head JUST when I was taking the picture… and for like the WHOLE time beforehand, she was paying the CLOSEST attention to the teacher and sat SO still in her chair. She was glued to the teacher’s face and didn’t seem the least bit distracted. She was so beautiful. Maybe it was her huge eyes, but my attention kept being drawn to her. She was very shy, never coming up to me once… but I still remember her.
It was hard to leave this center… we spent several hours with one class of kids and I kind of got attached to them. This community was the lowest income of all the places we visit. Average income is just $23 per month. I can’t even imagine…
We ate awesome lumpia at this center. I think volunteer moms made them all for us. They made them in an outdoor kitchen, with oil in woks, over coal stoves. They must have slaved all morning to make those. The children LOVED the lumpia. I loved it too. I must have eaten 10 of them. =)
I also got to taste a really sour fruit called santol. It was SUPER sour in certain parts.. but other parts were sweet. The kids thought it was the most hilarious thing, to watch me try the santol. hahhahaah
After the visit, we went back to the hotel and had dinner with the Leadership Development Students… to be continued.