overall... was a good day.
Volunteered for a feeding program sponsored by the Focolare Group today at Sulyap ng Pag-Asa Center, Brgy. Bagong Silang. There were about a hundred kids who benefitted from today's feeding, with ages ranging from 4 to 12.
Of course, feeding the kids wasn't the only item on the agenda. The main objective of the volunteer group today was to start a tracking system of the kids' health. They wanted to be able to get all 100 kids registered into the feeding program for better efficiency, to get all of them to weigh in so the volunteers can track their progress, and to do a bit of catechism. There was a lot that needed to be done, and a lot of kids to be "babysat" and entertained.
I broke my sneakers in the process. Haha! Amazing how my shoes fall apart on the worst possible times. Again, the soles (take note, that's in plural form) decided they wanted to be separate from the rest of the shoes. First time I became soleless was in AdMU, running a lap around campus. So this incident was strike 2! Different pair, of course. Why I didn't just wear the ones I had fixed recently, I don't know... let's not dwell...
So, there I was, soles flapping around with each step I took. I was slightly embarrassed. At first, I was trying to hide the mishap from the other volunteers. I mean, hello, a grown woman like me can't afford decent shoes? What is this? So I was trying to hide the flappyness by taking careful steps. But when you're trying to run after 5 year olds with minds dead set on "Let's play!", small, careful steps don't really work.
Imagine me, all over the place, trying my darndest to keep the kids smiling and happy and cooperative, while my shoes were doing otherwise. But then I thought... How ironic it was that I was bothered by something as trivial as a broken pair of sneakers when I was among little people who had practically everything broken before them.
Brgy. Bagong Silang was one of the worst hit areas when Ondoy drowned Metro Manila in September last year. Those houses swept away in the flash floods that flowed out to Marikina River, caught on video and uploaded on youtube, likely came from there. Families were separated, lives were lost, homes were broken, people suffered. And Ondoy knew no age, no social status, no nothing. Not everyone in Brgy. Bagong Silang was impoverished before. There were 2-storey homes that housed pretty "okay" families. Not everyone was the poorest of the poor, but when Ondoy came... she brought them all down to zero.
It's almost a year later, the community slowly but surely getting their lives back. Outreach groups like the Focolare are essential in that march to normalcy. There's a long way to go, but with all the love pouring in, things will just keep getting better with time.
My friend who recruited me into the program kept saying, "these kids are not starved for anything other than attention." Feeding them was one way to give something concrete but what they benefit most from is the interaction with the new found "ates" and "kuyas" who volunteer. Just the fact that we call them individually by name has a positive effect on them. The fact that for that one morning, before we serve them lunch, they have our total, undivided attention... we weren't just feeding today, we were changing lives. For the better.
I'm lucky to be part of this. This experience only makes me thirst for more. This is the kind of cause I'm talking about. If we're not the ones who have the money to give, we can give something else... time, attention, love...
Today was a very good day. It's solidified in me that, even though there are real evils in the world, there's also a real and great good. And it's closer than you realize.