I felt really bad last Friday because of a pathetic case of soul-wrecking envy. I skipped a night out with friends because of this. I wanted to stay home because I didn’t want to deal with my friends’ questions about what brought me down. It’s one of those predicaments that I only wanted to share with God.
One of my friends sent me an sms asking why I wouldn’t be joining them and I found myself giving her a sketch of the reason. I told her I needed a BIG BREAK. She told me she had an idea and I thought she was going to sched a videoke night to drive my blues away or whisk me off to an out of town adventure. But her suggestion was faaaaaaar from my guesses.
She invited me to volunteer in a Real LIFE feeding program.
Feeding in Pinagbuhatan, Pasig
Woke up 6am on a Saturday. Instead of feeling groggy, I felt like the Energizer Bunny. I would have done 20+ cartwheels if I knew how! Met up with Shani (yes, she’s the friend I was talking about in the backstory :P) in Crossing and we were able to locate the Real LIFE Center after a 20-minute cab ride and 4 quick convos with traffic enforcers and bystanders that we asked for directions.
The organizers told us we’re to expect 2 batches of 50+ kids each. Itinerary was simple– playtime and eating. I guess it was pretty simple enough considering we were around a dozen who volunteered to be big sisters and big brothers for the day. I took a deep breath and channeled my inner preschool teacher. Haha. More of call back the Iya from 8 years ago. sa mga hindi po nakaka-alam, preschool teacher po ako dati. 😛
Here are the rules that everybody must follow. These 5 reminded me of Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Really Need To Know, I Learned in Kindergarden. 🙂
Running around the activity center was the main delight for the kids. Next was having us carry them. I could only do a piggy backride. I left the on-the-shoulders carry to the boys. :p
There were some kids who gave their full attention to Ate Ria when she told them the story of “Ang Leon at Ang Lamok”, there were also some kids who preferred to tell their own stories to the big sister/big brother that they were with.
One of these kids was Paula. (see picture below) She preferred to tell Shani and me stories about volcanoes, animals and her family. Another thing she wanted to do was have her picture taken. :p
After an hour of playing (takbuhan, kargahan and Bahay-Baboy-bagyo) and storytelling, we ushered the kids to the dining area where they were served bowls of rice and ground pork with veggies. Here are the cousins Janelle and Sarah. Guess what their ages are. Akala ko 5 and 4. Nope. They’re 7 and 9. Hopefully, the meals we served them would contribute significantly to their height increase. 🙂
Some kids went for seconds. Some for thirds. Some had more water than food. (Water, please!!!) Some kids didn’t want to eat the veggies. Some kids shared that they even eat ampalaya. And there was one kid who’d only eat if we take her picture. (See picture below.) One spoonful for every shot. Look at the little princess doing that kawaii thing.
Even my little “mommies” were fond of the kawaii-pose. I call them my little “mommies” because they said, “Ikaw ang baby namin! Susubuan ka namin mamaya ng kanin at ulam!” Haha, they didn’t get to feed me but they attempted!
We finished feeding 116 kids around noon. There was a short meeting after where one of the Real LIFE scholars, Cezanne, talked to us about her amazing story. She used to be one of the kids that attended the feeding progs and she became one of the foundation’s scholars. She’s now taking up Mass Comm in University of Makati. 🙂
After a quick chat with the volunteers over delicious puto, Shani and I left the Real LIFE Center quite tired but very happy. 🙂
I told Shani that I needed a BIG BREAK. I felt that the Saturday with the kids and Shani was God’s way of answering my prayer in a lot of ways. It made me realize what I really want to do and where I should be– at least for now. As stated in the Bible, we are made rich so that we can be generous. I know that He will show me more ways of maximizing the gifts He has lovingly given me. And I know that He will give me the wisdom to take the next step.
We’re all blessed with gifts– time, ability, strength, inspiration, money, humor and a whole lot more. 🙂 If you also want to maximize the gifts you have been given, I will give you the same suggestion that my friend gave me.
Learn about Real LIFE. Give to LIFE. And change a LIFE. 🙂
“You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
2 Corinthians 9:11
listening to: Bread – Everything I Own