The team are now safely back home – though I am writing this from Hong Kong were I am staying with my amazing niece Susie and her husband Rory who are working here with another great Christian organization, rescuing men from drug addiction.
Before she left, Nicky wrote this blog post describing her experiences last Wednesday. In the end, this turned out to be some of the hardest things we saw during our whole visit:
“In the morning we visited the holiday club run from the ODC. This is an amazing project within Kanlungan where they run a holiday club in the areas where the children are. This is basically teaching and playing in between a used railway line and the remnants of an old building, no risk assessments here! The children were in three groups the youngest were doing colouring – no desks required just a piece of levelish ground, the next age group were listening to teaching over the noise of the busy road next door, the occasional train and the noise from the building of the new highway overhead. The oldest children were playing basket ball to which their numbers were instantly added with Calum and Ethan.
We left the boys to play and walked along the railway track to meet some of the families living there; no fitted kitchens here.
Further along the track we saw that the families who had previously been cleared away by the authorities from under a road bridge were returning. Their homes positioned next to a very interesting smelling river – quite poignant that one of the tarpaulins read Dream House.
We all went to see Wilmar further along the river where we joined him and some of the local children – some of whom we had met previously to sing some songs. It was great to see the older children becoming young leaders being supported by the Kanlungan staff.
The local clean up team consisting of two ladies clearing up the rubbish from the side of the river – very hard in 35 degree heat – if only pictures came with the sense of smell you could all get a sense of the environment.
Today we have really seen what a difference Kanlungan are making to the lives of the children they serve, the staff are all saints!
Thanks to everyone who has donated to our Cheese-a-thon, we’re really looking forward to tucking into a cheesy treat later today!
If you want to see our ‘grate’ exploit, then you can log onto the Streetlight Trust Facebook page here or go to https://www.facebook.com/streetlight.trust/ at around 9am UK time (though remember time can be a bit flexible in Manila!) to see how things go 🙂
If you would still like to give, its not too late – just click here or go to https://mydonate.bt.com/events/cheeseicecream
“On Monday we went to ‘Splash Island‘ with all the Kanlungan family. During the day we all went to play in the park. It was massive, there were lots of slides and a big wave pool with inflatables in the deep end. Lots of the children went swimming and only came out for food. At the end everyone got changed and got into a circle to worship. After that we all said goodbye and headed back to the hotel.
The highlight for me of the week was today because all the children were there and everyone had a good time.
For the children, too, this was a much anticipated day, and some of them had been awake since 4am! It is also a poignant time, particularly for siblings in the different settings, who only see each other occasionally.
Thankfully Tuesday has been at a very different pace, both for us and the children of Benitez House. We began by joining the weekly staff devotions, sharing together our gratitude to God for all that we have been given, in the work of Kanlungan and Streetlight, for all that we mutually benefit, and then joining together in prayer, that even if we don’t speak the same language, we love and serve the same God.
The afternoon was spent with the children, engaged in a range of craft activities. That these children, who have been through so much already in their young lives, can engage with such an activity with enthusiasm, skill and imagination, is testament to the endless love, energy and patience of all of the Kanlungan team.”
Don’t forget … you can support Kanlungan by giving to our Cheese Ice Cream eating challenge! Just click here or go to https://mydonate.bt.com/events/cheeseicecream/461461
Remember … we need to get to £300 or its “hard cheese!!!”
The Filipinos love Cheese Ice Cream, but for us its a more acquired taste! If you would like to see the current team eat a 1.5 litre tub of Cheese Ice Cream between us then we need to raise at least £300 towards the work of Kanlungan through Streetlight.
Yes that’s genuine Cheese Ice Cream – “Cheese Ice Cream blended with Real Cheese Bits” and here’s the proof:
This cheesy challenge will take place on at around 4pm on Thursday afternoon (so that’s 9am UK time) and will be Live Streamed by Ate Eunace on Facebook!!
But if you don’t get to £300 then the cheese is off (or we’ll be cheesed off … or both)
To donate click here or follow this link:
There is so much going on here, its difficult to keep up with it all on the blog! We had a fantastic day swimming today, but tonight’s blog comes from Ethan – describing his experiencing playing Basketball yesterday:
“Following the church service, Calum and I left the Open Day Care centre, (ODC) with Kuya Wilmar (one of the Kanlungan Social Workers) and the basket ball team who are all children attending the ODC. We went to a basket ball court which was edged on one side with a concrete wall topped with barbed wire and the other side was a rubble car park with Jeepneys randomly parked, at the back of the court were their homes, although not like anything back in the UK a selection of ramshackle social housing with sometimes 7 families in one dwelling – some would call it a slum but it is a step up from those living on the streets.
We watched a parade of team colours listen to the National Anthem and listen to some motivational speeches from some of the councillors . Before we got to play in a match the councillors gave out some new basket balls to the teams which we all had a mess about with – practicing our shooting skills. We then played a match with the ODC team against some university players which was great fun.
It was then time to leave so Kuya Wilmar took us back to the Shalom on one of the local Jeepney’s, the local bus transportation, another unique Manila experience.
The children are really great they always seem to be happy and are such fun to be around they really make me smile.”
This is not an actual photo from the event, but gives an idea of what it is like
We’ve had a great day swimming today … more on that later, but thanks to Caroline for a great reflection on our time here so far:
“We’ve come to the end of week one. It has been an intense but very well managed journey. We have had extraordinary experiences interspersed with much needed down time.
We are all a really supportive group and are beginning to get to know each other well and connect on many levels. We’ve already started planning future reunions and fund raising opportunities.
The highest point for me over the last 2 days was being a ‘parent’ for one of the girls for their graduation. This personalised the emotions: she became my little girl, marking her achievements, at the threshold of going to ‘big school’. I felt so proud of her. I want as much for her as I do for my own daughter. The intensity of the emotions surprised me. It was like the emotion I felt when my daughter was born. At the time I had been concerned that I might not be able to love someone as much as I loved my two year old son; but when I held my daughter for the first time, the love just flowed. Yesterday, when I became this little girls parent, the love just flowed!
And then they sang ‘The greatest love of all’, which if you read my initial blog, you will know, is very significant to me. So that was it, I was awash with tears! To be fair, we all were, and I wondered what the children made of that. I do hope that they felt the genuine love that was in the room.”
Sorry its been a little while since the last blog, but here’s an update on the last two days from Nicky:
Saturday graduation day.
A free morning so we went to a local market to buy some beat boxes. It was very hot, noisy and crazy a total sensory overload.
With the help of Sol we managed to purchase 5 beat boxes for Kanlungan at a very good price. And also managed to get them a new microphone which was put to use that very afternoon.
Once back in the van – thank you Hazel, we were taken to the Malate Centre where we were treated to a banquet of Philippine food. Then it was time for the all-important graduation of the children from the home.
We were privileged to accompany a child each and act as their honorary parent for the award ceremony. Once seated the children blessed us with music and dance presentations along with an inspirational talk from Mark.
This whole day was such a marvellous thing to be part of, there was not a dry eye in the house. It is very difficult to explain exactly how blessed and honoured we felt at acting as the parent for those whose parents could not be there.
After this emotional ceremony the evening gave us time to reflect whilst watching the beautiful sunset over the harbour with some of the Kanlungan team before heading back to base.
We had the morning to ourselves then went to the ODC day centre church service which was a wonderful worship lead service. After which some of the team went to visit the local street families who were really welcoming and open to us.
To see how they live and where some of the children who are now supported by Kanlungan have come from and for some are still living was humbling, it really made us all see how invaluable the work of Kanlungan is.
Ethan and Calum meanwhile went to the opening ceremony of the local street children’s summer camp, where they watched and played basket ball with the local children.
Tomorrow … Swimming!!!
A little bit behind … but there is so much to say!
This is what Victoria had to say this morning …
“It’s the start of day 5 and what an emotional rollercoaster this trip has been so far.
Yesterday we got to see firsthand the start of the Kanlungan process by watching a street education session and helping to feed the kids of Barangay Section 80. Many little children came to the drop in centre for a bowl of chocolate porridge, probably their only meal of the day, a safe and secure place for them to eat and be educated about issues including health and how to stay safe on the street. They sang and danced for us and sat patiently listening to the teacher explaining about the importance of drinking lots of water in the heat, their lesson of the day.
We had the opportunity to walk around the backstreets of Malate and see where the kids live, meet some of their families and even look inside their houses. I will never forget the house that we visited; a small building with a dark corridor, filled with diesel fumes from the Jerry cans that were stored inside. It led to a room used as a kitchen and somewhere to sit with a ladder to reach the tiny upper rooms, so small we were not even able to take a look.
More and more every day I’m amazed at how much can be achieved by Kanlungan. The staff are fantastic and extremely hard working but some of the centres don’t even have enough space or the facilities needed to care for the sheer number of children that come through their doors, but it doesn’t stop them.
Today is the graduation ceremony for the boys and girls moving up from the Level 1 Centre Home , which will be an emotional day I’m sure. Against all the odds these beautiful children are changing their lives for the better and I feel honoured to have been a part of it.”
Caroline wrote this last night after her visit to the farm:
“Today was top day; one of those that I will remember forever with a warm smile. It was all brilliant but several moments stand out. Firstly, eating with the boys was heart warming. The food was wonderful and included loads of home-grown fresh vegetables, my favourite. Cavite Farm was a garden of eden, especially for me as I love being in nature. I feel that it is such a positive and beautiful place for the boys to be; such a contrast to the busy city their harsh origins. The contact with the boys was very special, they were shy at first but as each one gained confidence they began to reveal their true and individual personalities: to climb or show off their trees and fruits, to play basket ball with skill, to sing or dance and towards the end some joined in with showing off with acrobatics! it was so natural and genuine.
We then had the opportunity to go on a boat trip in awesome scenery of mountains, volcanoes and a huge lake. It was breathtaking. It was also hilarious. On the way out we got a little wet from the splashes generated by the bow slapping the waves. On the return journey we were head to wind so the splashes created by the surf streamed over the bow and all over Mark and I. Everyone got at least a little wet but Mark and I were at the front and were completely and constantly soaked! The water was warm and cooling so very pleasant.
As I say a top day!”
What a day today! Back in the van this morning and on the road to our destination South of Manilla. After a short stop at our second graduation of the trip, this time the boys, we made our way to the farm. I actually went to this farm 7 years ago on my first trip to see the Kanlungan project. The progress in that time is noting short of incredible, in 2011 there was just a couple of wooden shelters and a few coffee bushes. Now there is a full blown house for the boys who are attending school, a second building for the boys working the farm, and laundry block.
We were greeted with a buffet consisting of banana blossom, grown on the farm, and a spectacular rice cake, all prepared by the new farm manager. We then took a tour of the farm, the boys showed us the different fruits and vegetables they are growing along with the coffee. The farm feels like a real sanctuary for these boys, and the staff, as all kanlungan staff are, were fantastic. Before we left we hit the stage one more time with our, now beautifully rehearsed, song and dance presentation. Then capped off our day with a boat ride across a volcanic lake and a coffee with a view. with a boat ride across a volcanic lake and a coffee with a view.