By Glenda B. Gutierrez
“LikhAral” is a program of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. that was first conceived as play-cum-tutorial service for children living in the Manila North Cemetery (MNC).
This unique community was introduced to the KKFI management by River of Joy Ministries, which recommended the admission of several MNC children to the Gilead Center for temporary residential care and educational assistance in 2008. Realizing the need to minister to the children of the MNC, the KKFI Management introduced LikhAral as a-twice-a-week activity.
LikhAral is a combination of two Filipino words—“Likha” and “Aral”—meaning “Create” and “Learn,” respectively. The initial objectives of the LikhAral were to provide tutorial services for elementary-aged children and youth of poor families living inside the MNC and to provide opportunities for youth, both out-of-school and in-school, to develop their leadership skills.
To help in the program implementation, KKFI forged partnerships with Sta. Mesa Heights United Methodist Church on Mayon Street in Quezon City, the University of Rizal System—Rodriguez Campus, and the College of St. Benilde-La Salle. The partners deployed volunteers, who taught and played with the children.
Later that year, the LikhAral sessions were also held at the KKFI compound on P. Paredes, Sampaloc, Manila and Gilead Center in Pulilan, Bulacan. The KKFI staff made the activities fun and interesting by coming up with creative activities.
Some well-to-do but kind-hearted students donated extra-large storybooks, which were used during the story-telling sessions. The books were a hit, especially because of their big and colorful illustrations.
In 2009, formal classes at the Child Development Center were started at the Barangay 372 Hall and the LikhAral merged with the KKFI’s Vacation Church School (VCS), thus becoming summer activities.
Usually, the KKFI uses the VCS modules produced by the Board of Christian Education and Development (BCED) of the United Methodist Church (UMC) and that of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP). This year, however, the LikhAral modules were prepared the by KKFI staff especially for the communities catered by the Foundation.
Before, the VCS classes were only conducted at the KKFI Compound. After the merging, LikhAral classes were expanded in the MNC, KKFI Compound, Gilead Center in Barangay Tibag in Pulilan and Barangay 107 in Tondo, Manila.
In 2015, LikhAral were also conducted in Looban and Tramo, both in Pulilan, in partnership with the Church of the Living Water UMC.
What makes the LikhAral truly special is the transformation that develops not only in the children-participants but also in the volunteer teachers. Not only do they learn, they are transformed to be God’s “new creation.”