The available Batch 29 alumni SICO (Social Involvement Coordinating Office) volunteers and the photographer behind the program logo met earlier to prepare everything for the most-awaited activity. Mailah, Shugar and I recounted the packs of pens and pencils, Jaypee and Rohel arranged the snacks and Daryl took some snaps. At about 1:30 p.m., we assembled at AdDU (Ateneo de Davao University) Roxas gate with 12 of the existing Batch 39 volunteers.
SICO Volunteers: Batches 29 and 39
When everything was in place, we didn't go straight to the community beneficiary. As a courtesy call, we stopped at "Pahiyum Store" where Engr. Noel Justiniani and Kuya Aying, our contact persons at Kabantan-onan Nga Aktibo ug Responsableng Dabawenyo Andam Moalagad sa Syodad (KARDAMS), were waiting for us. As the said NGO has been helping the community for quite some time, they have significantly assisted us in coordinating with the community leaders and in reaching out to the residents.
KARDAMS Staff with Sir Ian and KikitWhen we arrived at the community, Sir Ian Parcon, the SICO Director, and other KARDAMS staff warmly welcomed us. The children also were already prepared, behavedly sitting at the benches provided at the outdoor basketball court, where community activities are usually held. I could sense they were waiting with excitement, wondering what would happen that afternoon.
The beneficiaries at the basketball courtWith Mailah and Kuya Aying as the emcees, the short program started with a prayer led by Jaypee. It was then followed by exciting games facilitated by the existing volunteers. When they played "Stop Dance", almost all the children enthusiastically (and seductively!!!) grooved as if they were televised, showcasing their hidden talents. The five best dancers that were chosen had the privilege to join the popular "Hep, Hep, Hooray". Finally, we played "Musical Chairs" and since the volunteers served as posts (in lieu of chairs), the interaction between the volunteers and children made it more memorable.
Batch 39 volunteers playing with the beneficiaries For children to realize that expression is one of the reasons why they should value writing materials, we had a wish list activity. With the guidance of volunteers and some parents, children wrote what their hearts say. Some want only basic things like milk, clothes and toys. Some wrote they'd simply like to eat at McDonalds or Jollibee and go to People's Park. Some are interested to finish their education to be able to help their families. Some shared their dreams and ambitions. (All children's wishes will be summarized in the next entry.)
Later, pens and pencils were distributed and as what Nortehanon experienced, we saw vibrant smiles from kids. They even felt happier when snacks were served. To end the program, we listened to a speech from one of the mothers in the community. Seeing how happy the children were, she was truly grateful for everything we have done for them. Engr. Noel also said that this activity has somehow inspired the beneficiaries to study hard and follow the volunteers.
While waiting for the van service, I saw a couple of volunteers doing a dance showdown with the kids. Their laughter echoed to my ears with a realization that this program didn't only make many less-fortunate children happy. It also brought a sense of fulfillment to us, that it feels great to share a little of what we have for others to have more. And I hope that nice feeling will continue to motivate us to be aware, to listen and to respond.
I'd like to end this entry with a note of acknowledgement to all those who supported this project. To Batch 29 SICO volunteers (especially to Jenny A, Lorna, Alfie, Mailah, Mabelle, Shugar, Jaypee, Rohel, Sherlo, Max, Liyah) for planning, organizing, advocating, collecting and sending pens and pencils. I remember we once dreamt of establishing a foundation way back in college. Seven years after our graduation, we've finally taken the first step.
- To Nortehanon for letting us adopt this project. You stirred us to do something for our community.
- To SICO (Sir Ian, Ate Tess, Ate Bimbay and Ate Beth) for being supportive to this project. You awakened our social consciousness when we were still innocent students and if not because of that, we couldn't have initiated this activity.
- To KARDAMS for helping us coordinate with the community. You made things a lot easier for us.
- To other volunteers who contributed in their own ways: Ana K for blogging this project and for making the poster, Daryl for being our official photographer and even driver during the distribution, Becky for helping us pack the writing materials, Sham, Ate Shal and Ate Jiji for volunteering to collect pens and pencils at their own community.
- To Batch 39 SICO volunteers for also helping us pack the writing materials and for facilitating games during the distribution. Ten years ago, we were in your shoes. Ten years from now, I hope you'll be in ours.
- To all our donors for being generous enough to donate pens and pencils to our beneficiaries. With your kindness, you made so many children smile and you proved that despite the sad realities of life, no one is so poor that he couldn't give anything.
- To God for making all these things possible.