By Nancy C. Nicolas
The sound of children’s laughter grows as the KKFI car approaches the rotunda near the entrance gate of the Manila North Cemetery.
As our driver Bong Lanuza turns the first curb, I could clearly see a bunch a class running and playing a parlour game in the relatively spacious area of the cemetery under the care of Kuya Larren Jo “LJ” Basilio. I approached them and asked them how they were doing.“Mabuti po!” they answered in unison.
I nodded at LJ and walked some 50 meters further down the concrete road where, in the gated empty mausoleum, younger children were busy drawing on a paper under the supervision of Teacher Joanna Merced.
Another bunch of children between 6 and 8 years old are eagerly listening to Teacher James Aguilar’s story-telling while Christian Love Daroy-Gagno, the acting Program Department director, stands in a distance observing with apparent satisfaction.
Vince Eliver, the coordinator of the area, arrived with a container of water, a plastic of ice and a bag of biscuits for the students and staff members’ merienda or snack. Teacher Flor Tatoy was also there to handle yet another class of kids from the MNC. Halie DeGuzman, a volunteer intern from California, USA, was there, too, and I heard later on that she was such a hit among the young students because of her pleasant personality, especially her sweetness to them.
It was the third day of the two-week-long LikhAral, a version of Vacation Church School initiated by the United Methodist Church (UMC) and to which the KKFI added a twist. LikhAral is a combination of two Filipino words “Likha,” meaning to create, and “Aral,” which means to learn. Hence, LikhAral is not a traditional experience for kids. And they love it!
Aside from the MNC, the teachers from KKFI also conducted LikhAral in other parts of Manila like Tondo and the KKFI compound and in Pulilan, Bulacan, particularly in Gilead Center, Tramo and Looban. All in all, the educational sessions lasted for two weeks, from April 25 to May 5.
As I was looking at how the children of MNC enjoyed attending LikhAral, I was amazed at how much the poor and underprivileged children crave for knowledge and experience of creating something. I saw it in their eyes.
I thought: “I am happy God allowed us to come up with LikhAral. I am happy that KKFI is able to provide these kids such an experience.”
We have been conducting LikhAral for a decade now. It was already in place when I started working for KKFI six years ago. I am glad someone from the staff of KKFI during the time of my predecessor, Mrs. Priscilla Atuel, thought of such an innovative project.
I am proud of my staff for their selfless dedication and their talent in teaching kids. I know how tiring and uncomfortable the conditions they had to endure, considering it was suffocating heat of mid-summer.
Their effort was well worth it, they told me. Seeing children enjoying and learning at the same time is priceless. Such dedication make me double proud of them.