You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. – from the Little Prince
There was no need to tame the kids of Aeta Children’s Home when we first met them. In fact, we fell in love with them at first sight. It’s been two years and four months since that first encounter when these kids have decided to let us in to their hearts. We have seen them mature, literally and figuratively, despite the distance. We have never felt less excited every time we visit.
Aeta Children’s Home provides a temporary shelter while providing education to the indigent Aeta children and youth around Mt. Pinatubo in Zambales. The community is founded by a couple, Ptr. Wilson Ladrigan, and wife, Cora, who decided to do more than just pray for this community. They started to bring home 5 aeta kids, fed them, brought them to school, taught them to have a personal relationship with God, and brought them back to their parents after 6 months. The parents, and other parents and children, saw the significant change in the lives of these children so the other children also wanted to join until the 5 became 10 and then God brought His mighty provision for the couple to sponsor more and more until such time they had to put up a resettlement area.
Since 2012, we have had a long distance relationship with this humble community. And just like any relationship, God has used individuals or circumstances to bring two people together. In our case, it was my brother and his music ministry who introduced us to this community. They visited the kids to teach music. He sent me the link to their photos and got me connected to Ptr. Wilson. Everything else, as they say, is history. Well, in our case, a love story.
In March of 2012, we launched our “I Saved A Meal for the Aeta Kids” . The project encouraged our friends to donate an amount that is equivalent to the amount they would usually spend on one meal. We conducted a survey for 50 people to get this answer. We got an average of P114.71 (est $3). This answer gave us the idea of how much to ask from each supporter. As a form of gratitude, we gave our supporters a pin.
The money we raised, we used to buy school supplies for 125 kids and youth in time for the opening of 2012 school year. Aside from the bags of school items, we also fed them with their favorite spaghetti and fried chicken. We also conducted group activities, which gave our 30 volunteers a chance to interact with the kids.
We were told that the kids rarely get to eat fried chicken and spaghetti so even if we were tight for budget, we raised our goal in order to provide this. It took us more time but it is worth it.
Determined to continuously sustain this relationship, ACH never left our hearts and our minds. In December of last year, we came back to bring hygiene kits to their 118 kids/youth and staff. We also fed them, which served as their Christmas celebration before they head back to their families in the mountains for Christmas vacation. We received the same enormous support from our friends and the company most of us work for.
We brought them bags of hygiene kit, their favorite food (plus hotdogs!), games, and more love.
Last Saturday, three weeks after the new school year has opened, we brought another set of school supplies for the kids. This time, we were supported by two main organizations in the business unit most of us work for. We initially approached one unit to help us collect in-kind donations of school supply based on the list we gave them, which we also based on the current number of kids per grade level. In no time, we got all we needed. Not just that, another business unit decided to donate the notebooks they were able to collect from a team activity they held. The result? Abundant supply of school materials for the kids.
We did not get to prepare food and activities this time. It will take us longer than usual if we raise money for the food. We thought that at this time, it is more important to bring the school supplies on time. Nevertheless, the experience we got is not ordinary.
Our love story doesn’t end here. We have so many more plans for these kids. In fact, God is cooking two big projects for them soon. One involves education and one involves the families of the kids. This will be made possible with the help of another school/community who came to us with a heart to help us help them help others. We hope that you can help us make this happen by praying for and with us.
Our volunteers do not get paid for all we do but we do it again and again. Something good happens to us when we give. We can’t explain what it is but we know it’s good. The love at first sight made us feel forever responsible for them. And we will commit to the call as long as we live.
Give. It does something more than receiving something back.
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