It was Thursday morning that I received an unexpected text from Ann who is currently visiting Cebu from Scotland. She had read an article I had written on my site TropicalPenpals.com regarding bringing kids clothes to give away rather than filling your bags with clothing.. The idea being that clothes are so cheap here you would end up with excess luggage on the way back so you might as well start with at least a half empty suitcase. Which is where getting donated clothing and old kids clothes from the UK and using your space in the luggage for that was the original idea. Anyway getting back to the text.. Ann had managed to get hold of Emily and Tim to arrange a visit to the drop in center which is based in Tabunok market near Talisay. So had now texted to say that she was waiting for the social worker who deals with the kids at the center to arrive in McDonalds and asked if I wanted to meet up since she was in the area. I dragged myself out of bed after a late session the night before which after airsoft and a few beers resulted in me getting to bed around 3am. But I headed in as I wanted to meet Ann as we had exchanged a lot of chat online during the run up to her visit to give a run down on any information she may have needed. So off I head on my little scooter weaving in and out the traffic up to the McDonalds near Gaisano Fiestamall before we headed down to the center.
After an exchange of chat we were lucky enough that someone was available to take us to the center as the social worker and Tim were unavailable due to the fact one of the children had badly been wanting to see his mother. The problem is she is presently in prison which makes things difficult. So of we went down to the market area to a building which was a run of ground floor shops with offices above. The building was in working shape although run down. We headed up some steep stairs and along a fairly darkened corridor which seemed to have a strange mix of businesses from Dentists to money lending and everything in between. At this point I didn’t know what to expect with the day center due to the fact that the building itself was needing a lot of maintenance but we arrived and as the door opened you suddenly entered a completely different environment. The Center has 2 rooms currently which are painted in bright colours and resemble a small school room with desks and lots of colourful pictures on the wall. The local government donated the rooms and also electricity. But there is still plenty of things needed to help the kids at the center. It was nice to see the books and other things that had been donated from the UK as part of the annual container as well as seeing kids smile who have nothing but hardship outside of the center. The visit was a bit unexpected and very few kids were at the center that afternoon but we did manage to see 5 or 6 of the kids who were all nice full of smiles and happy to see us. Its a side of life you don’t get too involved with generally in the Philippines and often people just really don’t see the kids yet they are the same kids that may be watching your car for five pesos and trying to scrape a living then sleeping in the market areas at night. Seeing the kids in an environment that is helping them change to a better future is a humbling experience. A lot of these kids were or even still using rugby glue (sniffing) which is unbelievable that it goes on. But with a life where there is nothing but a cycle of poverty I can understand why some people would. This center not only offers food,education and a sense of worth to the people that go there but also offers them hope.
I have to admit I wish I could do more myself but currently my timescale is limited and budgets are stretched. But what I can offer is my words and that’s what I’m doing here.. the kids themselves need a bigger environment and a secure one a children’s orphanage/hostel would be a major step forward for the kids but also a life changing one. Its hard to understand until you have visited somewhere like this. To really understand why some people really do need your help. There were a few moments that make you realise what the center means to the people and one of those was a trip the kids made out to a swimming pool. They have only had two trips in the time the center has been opened but the trip to the pools said it all because the day they went the pools were freezing and at that time there was also a group visiting from the UK who found the water to cold to swim. But the kids swam in it all day as its the first time they had ever been to a swimming pool. They enjoyed the day and on the way back one of the kids said to one of the students who help at the center that “he had enjoyed today as much as possible because he knew tomorrow it wouldn’t be there”.
After we finished chatting and visiting the center Ann arranged to come back Monday before her trip back to the UK. To visit while all the kids are there. As we left there were some of the kids sleeping in the corridor outside. It would be good to be able to change this and hopefully in the future I can help but one thing I would ask if you have the time is to take a browse at Mercy in Action’s website. I don’t believe in asking people to donate but I would like it if you spent 5 – 10mins on seeing the great work they do and if you do donate I would just like to say thank you for that.. if you don’t I thank your for your time.