The End of the First Week … Caroline’s Reflections

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.”

The Last 2 Days … Nicky’s View

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.

 

Sunday

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!!!

 

 

 

An Update from Victoria

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.”

Another View of our Farm Visit from Caroline:

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!”

Great Day at the Farm – an update from Alec

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.

A Roller-Coaster of Emotions: An update from Nicky

“We started with a wonderful breakfast at the Kanlungan KSEM coffee shop, then we were picked up by Hazel and the crew. After a drive through the Manila traffic out to the suburbs we arrived at the Elementary school.

We arrived to warm sunshine beaten only by the very warm Pilipino welcome from children who were gradating and their families.  Ethan and Calum were treated like pop stars with a queue for selfies!  We then went to the girls home to join in the celebrations for the 5 girls who graduated today.  We were treated to a yummy lunch with fish, pork rice and noodles complimented by juicy mango.

Then it was up to the roof where we sat listening to Sol telling us all about the projects and how things are going, whilst Calum and Ethan played basketball with a few of the girls.  Then it was time for the presentations they were amazing singing and dancing, then it was our turn to sing our song to them – hopefully they liked it?  Then they had a prize giving with medals going for “little ray of sunshine” and most “awesome person” to name but a few.

It was great to see what happy and confident girls they were becoming; and with what some of them have been through this was a blessing and privilege to see.

We then left there to head for the day centre where again we were greeted with the loveliest welcome with fresh flower garlands with jasmine in that smelt incredible.  Once the children had performed for us and visa versa it was time to nip out into the shanty town alongside the railway track.  Here in small groups we were each taken into the homes of those who live there.

Mark, Jenny, Ethan and Myself were warmly welcomed into the home of a family of 8 who live in a house made from a brick wall the floor and various sheets of tarpaulin supported by a plank of wood balanced making a long rectangle shaped home about the size of a king-sized bed.  In it he his wife and 6 children all live and sleep, unless there is a typhoon when they sleep in one of the parked Jeepneys nearby!

The work of the day centre is invaluable to these people as it feeds the children for them during the day and they have somewhere safe to hang out as well.  When they are not scavenging for the rubbish that earns them money to recharge their battery, this runs a small fan which along with the opening of the tarpaulin acts as the air conditioning!  Washing facilities are a small water pump and there is a makeshift toilet for the neighbourhood.

After a walk around the area that they call home we returned to the daycentre for some refreshments and more hanging out with the kids and of course had to treat them to an ice-cream – today’s were even cheaper than yesterday!

The journey home was long as we experienced Manila traffic in all its glory this did however give us much needed time to start processing all the emotions we have gone through today.”

 

First Day

It’s been a really good first day in Manila, mostly spent in the children’s home here in the city.  All the gifts that people have sent have been very well received. We handed them all over to Ate Sol this afternoon … here is a photo of of everything put together, many thanks to everyone who contributed:

Also a contribution today from Anna:

“The children were so happy to see us it was a bit overwhelming, they were so excited. They had prepared for us a song which they preformed so well, they were a little dumbfounded when we reciprocated……………..  After a head count we went to a local shop and bought 45 Cornetto’s, I can not believe we had change from £20!!

The girls set up an hair salon and braided our hair, even mine! We played games, danced and sang, such a wonderful first day!”

Here’s a picture of us practising the song 🙂

Thanks for your interest in the blog … we love getting comments so please leave us some!

We’ll be back tomorrow with another update.

Meet the Team – Mark

Our final team member intro comes from Mark, who will be leading the Team along with Mary.

“I’m really excited to be returning to Manila and seeing all my friends (both children and staff) in Kanlungan. Being involved in Streetlight has been an amazing journey. When we started in 2005 I remember wondering how we would ever raise the £6,000 a year that was our initial target. We now send up to £60,000 a year and have sent over £600,000 since we started. This is thanks to the amazing generosity of our supporters, many of whom have visited on teams like this one. Although so much has been done, the needs of the street children in Manila and of Kanlungan are as great as ever.

So I’m delighted to be leading, with Mary, a new group of people to join with us on the Streetlight journey. If you pray, please join us in praying for the trip, that we will work well together as a team and make a difference to the lives of the children and staff at Kanlungan. And keep an eye on this blog for updates!”

Meet the Team – Mary

Hello I’m Mary Lane and I’m really looking forward to our trip to Kanlungan, Im a Streetlight Trustee and have had the privilege of assisting on trips for the last ten years. Each time I go its different and its great to see the progress of the children each year. I’m particularly looking forward to this trip as my son Alec and his partner Vic are coming out too:-)

I live in Kings Clipstone and have a daughter also Jessica and grandson David and another grandchild due in June!

Meet the Team – Alec & Victoria

Hello, Alec and Victoria here. We are really excited about our trip to Manilla, we have been talking about a this trip for a long time, and now we are finally going. We are both in our early 30’s and live just outside of London. We have known about the great work that Streetlight and Kanlungan do for many years as Alec’s Mum (Mary) is a Streetlight Trustee. For us this trip is a chance to help others who didn’t get the head start in life which we both have enjoyed. We a very grateful for this opportunity to work alongside inspirational people who selflessly give their time and efforts to those who need it most. Our intention is to be as much help as we can possibly be, both on this trip and in the future.