CANDLE OF HOPE

by Larren Jo N. Basilio

After a 10-month hiatus, my fate brought me to Manila once more. Peacefully living in the isthmus of Bataan where I enjoyed the fresh air, morning breeze, and green pastures, my body longed to respond to my first call–service—both community involvement and youth empowerment.

Teaching is part of our family heritage. Most of us are involved in this ministry. In fact, for the last eight years, I was part of 6 Daily Vacation Church Schools in Bataan. I used to teach in Sitio Boracay, which is the total opposite of Boracay in Aklan. Houses there are made with wood planks. The community is quite isolated that one needs to take a short ride on a raft. Everything in Sitio Boracay is superlative.

Haunted house, vampires, manananggal, white lady, name it. These were the first words that popped in my mind on my first attempt to visit Manila North Cemetery as Likharal teacher. I stared puzzled at every mausoleum filled with appliances, mausoleums that serve as flower shops and sari-sari stores, and home for the living and the dead at the same time. It sounds crazy but, yes, it is real! For my longest time living in this world, it was the most shocking community I have ever seen.

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Larren Jo Basilio, fondly known as LJ, leading in a prayer during the Likharal at the Manila North Cemetery.

My first day was disastrous. Nobody was listening. I tried every single strategy I usually do and nothing seemed to work. I asked one of my students, a nine-year-old, who was staring blankly at some object.

“Anong natutunan mo?” “Wala,” he replied, to my dismay.

“Ano na lang narinig mo sa kwento ko kanina?” I continued.

“Wala, hindi ako nakikinig. Iba iniisip ko,” he answered in a very strong voice.

“Anong iniisip mo?”

“Kung ano pwede kong pagkakitaan mamayang hapon.”

“Hingi ka na lang kila mama at papa mo.” I urged.

And he replied fiercer, “Baka ako pa nga magbigay doon e.”

I was at a loss for words for a moment. I didn’t know why but, somehow, I feel the burden that this child was bearing. He and his friends chose to stay away from the group. I continuously approached these boys and kept on feeling the atmosphere.

After some time they started sharing their stories. Most of them dropped from school and their ages are no longer suitable to their last grade level, making it harder for them to come back. Days passed and the class of 30 was divided into three.

“Bawal ang pangit sa grupo namin; dapat magaganda lang lahat,” an 11-year-old uttered.

A commotion broke out 20 steps away from me after class when another girl shouted “Gyera na!”

Emotions were stirred and one thing led to another, prompting a understandably nervous parent to whisk her daughter away from the scene.

Earlier during a game, a group refused to accept defeat and initiated a fight. I was caught off-guard. When confronted them, nobody wanted to take the blame. I tried to talk to both sides, but they both ignored me. What they wanted was to continue throwing punches at each other. I admit I was at a loss of what to do at that moment.

Teaching the good news (the theme of Likharal 2017 was “Tell the Good News”) was really a huge challenge! I could not even tell if my students learned anything. They seemed vent on denying me the pleasure of knowing they absorbed something, anything!, from me. I wanted to give up and let the week just pass me by. But then I was reminded of our Likharal’s lesson: the Lord empowered Paul, formerly known as Saul, to tell the good news perseveringly amidst imprisonment.

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LJ (left with Flor Tatoy and James Aguilar teaching a dance during the LIkharal.

I was reminded that when Jesus called His disciples, they were not at their best. It is the series of tests that made them faithful followers of Christ. It is the series of tests that enabled them to see the unbelievable and fight for the doubtable. It is through and by faith that they were able to follow Christ while He was preaching, healing, and praying. And once when the disciples doubted, Jesus got up and calmed the storm.

“Bakit ka bumabangon?” One time Ate Love told me after a very tiring day of ALS class. “It is because you love and care for them.” That is the exact feeling I have for my Likharal students. This time I cannot be what I once was. I could not make them silent, I chose to be with them in making noise. As the saying goes, “If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em.” I chose to enjoy and learn what others see as a chaotic world. I mingled and tried to understand. I learned not to beg for what they cannot give. In a dim world, I lit a candle of hope, telling them that I strongly believe in their capabilities. I knew from the start that they might not memorize the things I taught them, but I trust that they will not forget them. What the mind can’t remember, the heart can.

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ANG NASIMULAN NG LIKHARAL

FB_IMG_1494578213164ni Joanna Marie Merced
 
Matapos ang dalawang taong pakikibahagi ko sa “LikhAral” ng Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI), dumating din ang pinakahihintay kong pagkakataon ngayong taon na ito.
 
Dati ay tagasaway lamang ako ng mga makukulit na batang kasali sa LikhAral. Bukod nga pala dito ay taga-ayos din ako ng mga kalat at tagabili ng pagkain ng mga mag-aaral at titser na nagutom matapos ang dalawang oras na sesyon. Ngunit ngayon taong ito, iba na ang level ko. Isa na ako sa mga guro ng LikhAral!
 
Nag-umpisa ito nang anyayahan ako ni Ate Christian Love D. Gagno na maging bahagi ng “Trainor’s Training” na ginanap sa Baguio City ilang buwan lamang ang nakakaraan. Nakasama ko doon sina Flora Mae Tatoy at Raquel Fabre, na pawang staff ng KKFI. Maraming iba pa ang nakasali sa nasabing pagsasanay at sila ay pawang nagmula sa mga local churches ng United Methodist Church (UMC).
 
“Tell the Good News” ang tema ng Vacation Church School (VCS) ngayong taon, at ito ay pinag-aralan namin sa loob ng tatlong araw. Ang mga participants ng training ang may responsableng ipahayag ang nasabing mensahe. Naitanong ko tuloy sa aking sarili: “Kaya ko ba?”
 
Ito at iba pang mga tanong ang naglaro sa aking utak. Siyempre pa, kinakabahan ako pero, ewan ko ba, may galak akong naramdaman sa aking puso. Totoong natutuwa ako sa karanasang aking pinagdaanan sa Baguio. Nakakilala ako ng mga gurong may kanya-kanyang katangian at kakayahan. May masungit at may mabait. Ngunit hindi ko naramdamang hadlang ang iba’t ibang pinagmulan dahil iisa lamang ang aming layunin—ang maipalaganap ang Mabuting Balita sa mga kabataang lalahok sa VCS, o ang KKFI version nito na LikhAral.
 
Nakakatuwang isipin na may iba’t ibang pamamaraan upang ipahayag ang pag-ibig ng Diyos sa sanlibutan. Sa Baguio, nakita ko kung paanong pinagsama-sama ng Panginoon ang mga taong hindi magkakakilala upang magkaisa. Sadyang kahanga-hanga kung paano itinuturo ang pag-aaral ng mga kanta, ang paggawa ng mga bagay-bagay mula sa malikhaing kamay ng mga kalahok at ang paglalagay ng tamang aksyon sa mga liriko ng kanta.
Tinuruan kami kung paano magpatawad at humingi ng tawad sa mga taong nakasakit at nasaktan namin. Kung magagawa umano ito, masasabi mo na kung kaya mong magpalaganap ang salita ng Diyos.
 
Maaaring maiksi lamang ang tatlong araw sa ganoong klase ng pagsasanay pero ang mga aral na natutunan ko ay naipunla na sa aking puso at isipan. Siyempre, hindi natatapos sa Baguio ang aking pagkakatuto sapagkat ibinahagi namin nina Flor at Raquel ang aming mga natutunan sa mga kabataan mula sa Tondo, Manila North Cemetery at Bulacan. Ang isang guro ay patuloy na natututo habang siya ay nagtuturo.
 
Ang pinakamahalaga kong natutunan ay ang katotohanang Malaki ang impact ng tatlong araw na LikhAral sa buhay ng mga bata. Nakakagalak sa aking puso ang makita silang nagpupursigeng magawa ang iniatas sa kanilang gawain. Kay gandang tingnan na ginagamit nila ang kanilang malikhaing kamay, mga boses, mga kamay at paa sa pagsunod sa liriko at ritmo ng bawat kanta.
 
Wala ngang imposible sa Panginoon. Sino ang mag-aakala na 40 kabataan ng Tondo ang tatanggap sa leksyon ukol sa pag-ibig ng Diyos? Kaya’t ang epekto sa akin nito ay tagos sa aking pagkatao dahil nakakataba ng puso ang kaalamang mahal ka ng mga kabataang-Tondo.
 
Alam kong naituro namin nang maayos ang mga dapat matutunan ng aming mga estudyante, na siya namang magtuturo sa mga batang lalahok sa limang araw na pag-aaral sa Tondo, Paredes, MNC at Bulacan. At hindi nga nila kami binigo dahil maayos nilang naisagawa ang LikhAral sa mga lugar na nabanggit.
 
Nakakapagdulot ng ligaya na maisalin sa mga estudyante ang mga leksyong aming natutunan sa Baguio. Kung minsan nga ay nananaginip ako na nagtuturo ako at nag-uunahang sumagot sa tanong ang aking mga mag-aaral, sumasali sa bawat palaro, gumuguhit gamit ang krayola at papel at nagbabasa ng mga assignment.
 
Alam naming hindi perpekto ang aming mga nagawa. Maaaring may kulang. Pero tiwala kaming naihayag namin ang kailangang iparating na tema na “Tell the Good News.” Nananampalataya ako na ang bawat batang nakilahok sa LikhAral—sa kanyang bawat pagkanta, pagkembot sa saliw ng awit, pag-memorya ng Bible verse at pagpapatotoo na mahal sila ng Diyos—ay nakapiling ang Panginoong Jesus sa mga panahong iyon.
 
Alam ko na hindi natatapos dito ang mga katuruang inihatid namin. Sa kapangyarihan ni Jesus, ito ay simula lamang.

DETERMINATION OVERCOMES ALL ODDS

 

By Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“I am happy because I have proven to myself that despite poverty, one can succeed,” shared by Hazel Dungog, 22 in the vernacular. “I was determined to succeed because I do not want to disappoint or break the trust given by Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) management and staff.”

Hazel, a KKFI scholar, is the first Alternative Learning System (ALS) passer to finish a four-year college course. She belongs to the first batch of students in Sampaloc, Manila who pioneered the ALS program of KKFI in August 2011.

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Hazel Dungog during the graduations rites at the University of Manila last March 31, 2017

Last March 31, she graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Criminology from the University of Manila.

In my previous interview with Hazel in March 2013, I have seen how determined she was to achieve her dreams. She was teary-eyed when she narrated to the hardships she was undergoing.

She is eldest of five children of a construction worker. Though their mother helps augment the family’s income by accepting laundry and selling bananas, their income was not enough. Hazel had to stop going to school and help earn money.

“Before, my dream was just to graduate and pass the board examination and be a faithful and honorable law enforcer. Now, I want to give a better and comfortable life for my family,” expressed by Hazel.

“I am thankful to KKFI for being supportive. They even gave me a place to stay during my last year in the university,” added Hazel.

Hazel was referring to her one-year stay at Kapatiran dormitory when their rented room in Mayhaligue, Sta. Cruz, Manila was demolished. Though they were able to save money for the room rental fee and down payment when they stayed at their grandparents’ place, the room they could afford was too small.

She said she enjoyed staying at the dormitory where she was comfortable. She was a diligent student whose routine is dorm-school, home-dorm.

Most of all, she is thankful to KKFI for giving her a chance to finish school and achieve her dreams.

“I am grateful to see and know the importance of education,” she exclaimed. She added, “I am happy to experience the importance of unity in a group and to be able to participate in the activities of KKFI.”

Hazel was referring to her stint as a volunteer assistant teacher at the Child Development Center and as a teacher at the LikhAral (Create and Learn) Program. She was also able to experience the Lakbay-Aral and team-building activities for KKFI staff and volunteers.

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Hazel, leftmost with her fellow Likharal teacher, Judith Ramirez and their students

At present, Hazel is working as a collector at the CMDCO Cooperative. She believes in the mission of CMDCO to help vendors expand their business and to increase their capital by providing loans to these vendors at low interest rates.

Hazel plans to continue working while reviewing for the comprehensive examination for would-be law enforcers. She intends to save as much as she can in order to help out in her family’s expenses.

She advised her fellow scholars and ALS students to continue what they started and to never give up and give in to trials and difficulties. She said they should focus on their dreams and be determined to succeed and not to break the trust given by KKFI and to prove that it did not make a mistake in helping them.

Her wish for KKFI is stability. She hopes KKFI will continue its mission of helping the needy and underprivileged. She prays that KKFI would have more recipients and beneficiaries.

“Thank you to all the staff of KKFI in the Administration, Resource Development and Program departments most especially to Sir Vincent Eliver, Sir Rex Dayao, Ma’am Nancy Nicolas, Ate Love Gagno and Ate Judith Ramirez,” as Hazel enumerated the staff who proved instrumental in her success.

“Thanks too to the donors and partners of KKFI like Ma’am Ruth Flores, Sir David Ahearn, Sir Philip Myers and to the LaGrange College.”

In conclusion, she thanked everyone for the unending support and assistance to the scholars and ALS students, saying, “May God bless you. Mabuhay po kayong lahat!”

HOPE AMONG THE TOMBS

by Rev. Julie Schendel

(Rev. Julie Schendel is one of the faculty members of the LaGrange College, Georgia, USA who participated in an immersion program of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) in January 2016 and January 2017. She is also the  Associate Pastor at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church. We are reposting her blog last Januaray 12, 2017 in https://julieschendel.wordpress.com/ so that more partners may be aware of our programs and services. Readers may visit her blogsite as she made a lot of posts in her 2-year stint at KKFI.)

 

Welcome to the world of Manila’s poorest citizens: Manila North Cemetery. Actually, even that’s being generous, since the government doesn’t recognize them as citizens. Since many can’t afford to be born in a hospital, they have no birth certificate, and therefore no identity. Their greatest hope to gain any kind of ID comes through baptism. They can use their baptismal certificate to prove who they are and start the process of becoming a citizen. How’s that for gaining a new identity? Get baptized, gain new life in Christ, gain new life in your community.

Manila North Cemetery (MNC) is 54 acres filled with beautiful mausoleums and 10,000 residents, above ground. There are countless other permanent residents encased in granite and concrete, serving as beds and tables for those who share their space to make their homes.

Most of the families that live in the cemetery are employed by the relatives of those buried. Wealthier families hire individuals to keep their mausoleums and crypts clean and free from vandalism. In exchange, they get to live there, rent free, and since there is no electricity or running water, there are no additional bills. Earning about $1 a day, families struggle to feed all their kids.

There are benefits to living in a cemetery besides the free rent. Everyone jokes that it’s peaceful, the neighbors are quiet, etc. It’s built on higher ground, so the space is less likely to flood during typhoon season. What might be most significant, for better or worse, is the sense of community. Most homeless living on the street may be scattered here and there, but never really feel like they have the support of neighbors. In the cemetery, everyone lives in close quarters. There are small stores along the corners to purchase snacks, toiletries, and other necessities. And there are people all around. Families pile in together, older siblings take care of the littles, and there is always someone nearby to help with laundry, motorcycle repair, or to teach the children. Since there aren’t always solid walls on the mausoleums, it’s hard to hide. Neighbors can call through your entrance gate, or simply look in to see if you’re home. While it may lead to a loss of privacy, there’s this sense that everyone’s in this together, and it brings a closeness to the community.

 

Erica, a KKFI scholar, showing us her home.

With everyone in such close quarters, it’s easy for things to get dangerous, especially for young girls. Fights break out, drunks can stumble into the wrong home or even intentionally abduct the women. Then there’s the stigma that comes from living in a cemetery. People on the outside shun most of the community. If children go to public school, they get teased and called ghosts or witches, accused of eating the dead. Most can’t handle the taunting and drop out of school, which kills their chances of ever breaking free from this environment. All the more reason for KKFI to step in and lead programs offering a glimmer of hope.

Our assignment was to lead 4-6 year olds in Supervised Neighborhood Play.

We were told these kids were ages 4-6, but their size made them look 2-4. It was a rainy day in the cemetery, so 32 kids were gathered together on an 8 foot square tarp, under a makeshift roof in the mausoleum.

At first, they weren’t too sure about their foreign visitors. They don’t get outside the walls of the cemetery much, and many have never seen people with skin as white as ours. A couple of kids laughed as we circled up and they saw my skin next to theirs. Pointing back and forth between our arms they giggled…”brown, white, brown, white.”


Once the games began, the giggles exploded, and the joy these children shared was contagious. If you ignored the crypts surrounding us, you’d never know these kids grew up in an environment worthy of nightmares. This was life for them, and they were resilient. I saw several kids fall flat on their face on the concrete, look stunned for a second, then jump up to brush themselves off and keep going, no tears or shrieks were uttered. Mothers or older sisters were always nearby, tending to the littlest and making sure they felt included in the group.

Despite the rough environment, these kids are bright and patient and loving. They’re quick to forgive, gracious to whatever is given them, and as curious and playful as any other children their age. After spending the day with them, I found myself inspired. After being shunned because others see them as different, they easily welcomed strangers into their homes and their lives. After scrounging for any advantage they can get, they’re quick to share with their siblings and care for their family. After growing up surrounded by death, they still strive for a future and keep finding life. And that is a beautiful thing.

The Privilege of Serving

Halie DeGuzman

 

Since being in the Philippines, the homeland I never knew, many people have asked me how I’ve enjoyed my stay.

I’ve been living with a host-family and interning with Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) for nearly three months and I have learned more during this time than I ever have before.

My experience with KKFI thus far has been educative, enlightening, and inspiring in many ways. I have learned not only about the way an NGO functions both organizationally and relationally but, more importantly, how those who have a heart for the poor and marginalized turn their “calling” into tangible work that improves the lives of families and communities.

I have been able to observe several of KKFI’s ongoing programs in various communities including the Livelihood Training in Tigbe, Supervised Neighborhood Play in Manila North Cemetery, the CDC kinder classes, and the ALS youth class.

While these programs are unique, the commonality between them is the beauty and authenticity of the people they involve.

The women in the Livelihood Training program, most of them mothers, are intelligent, eager to learn, and encourage one another.

The children in Manila North Cemetery have wonderful laughs and marvelous minds and their devoted parents only want the best for them.

The children in the CDC are so very malikut but bright, happy, and good learners. The ALS youth are incredibly cool teenagers who I admire for their desire and dedication to continue their education.

From spending time with each of these groups, I have learned that there is something to learn from everyone, regardless of their age, gender, or background. I am also extremely thankful for the welcome, hospitality, and care everyone here at KKFI has shared with me. I am thankful for those who have brought me with them into the communities or allowed me to observe their classes despite my limited capacity to truly help since I can hardly speak Tagalog.

All of the staff members have been very kind and patient in answering all my questions, taking the time to explain things, and, of course, making sure I eat lunch!

I love the way the staff and volunteers relate to one another like a family, as family is surely the most important virtue and value of life in the Philippines. And these relations are extended to the communities as everyone works together to bring about the peace, social justice, and progress of the Filipino people.

Maraming maraming salamat to everyone at KKFI for a wonderful experience so far.

I count it a privilege and blessing to learn from you and be welcome here.

 

A TASTE OF FREEDOM

by Fort Nicolas

 

Cooking, to Flora Mae Tatoy, is freedom.

That realization came to the 22-year-old social worker slowly. The process started when she was eight. She remembered the particular scene well. It is safe to say it is etched indelibly in her mind.

There was her mother gently prodding her unwilling daughter to try her hand in the art of cooking.

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Flor Tatoy

“My child,” she remembered her mother telling her with excitement in her voice, “I will teach you something that you will truly appreciate, something you will cherish for life!”

“Sure…” Flor, who is currently working with the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation would tell herself. She just wanted to get it over with.

Yes, she obeyed her mother’s instructions, but under protest. She was rebelling inside, but she did not dare to show it to her beloved mother. However, she was sure she could use the time she had been “wasting” in the kitchen by doing other worthwhile things, such as talking with a friend over the phone.

Nevertheless, she acted like an obedient daughter, cutting the meat the way it should be cut as per the instruction of her mother, boiling the vegetables only this much, removing the scales of a fish this way and that to achieve optimum efficiency, and putting them altogether in a particular order and manner inside the hot pan and adding just the right amount of salt, pepper and other condiments to achieve particular tastes.

For years, it went that way. Flor did not know it at the time, but the joy of cooking was growing on her. She was beginning to like it. In fact, she could feel the excitement and thrill of an upcoming adventure whenever she steps into a kitchen and begin to smell that particular smell of an environment only cooks can appreciate.

It’s a place where she wants to be. It’s the kind of place where she can be free to cook, to create, to experiment and to make mistakes without the threat of punishment. It is the place where she can be free. Indeed, it is where she can experience the sweet taste of freedom.

 

(Aside from cooking, Flor’s other passion is educating kids. Among her other duties at KKFI is to teach the poor children living inside the Manila North Cemetery [MNC]. If you want to support the this and other KKFI programs, please email at kkfi1950@yahoo.com.)

 

 

‘MANILA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET’

‘MANILA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET’
(The Kapatiran Stories blog site is reprinting here the article about the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. [KKFI] published last Sunday, June 19, 2016, in Starweek, the Sunday magazine of the Philippines’ leading broadsheet, the Philippine Star. It was written by Ms Cheeko B. Ruiz, one of the desk editors of the newspapers. In her article entitled, “Transformation and Hope in the Heart of Manila,” Ms Ruiz discovers the facilities and pro-poor programs of the country’s first social development-oriented non-government organization [NGO]. Ms Ruiz called KKFI as “Manila’s best-kept secret.” Read on and find out what she means.)

In most dormitories in the University Belt, the average rate of a four-person room with two double-deck beds is P18,000 per month, excluding utilities.

In contrast, the rate for similar facilities – a room with four single beds – at the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) dormitories along P. Paredes corner Lerma Streets is only P7400.

The first of its kind in the country, “it’s a home away from home,” says Nancy Nicolas, executive director of the KKFI, social development arm of the United Methodist Church in the Philippines.

Formerly known as the Methodist Social Center, the KKFI was founded in 1950 as a response to the challenge to work with the poor in their struggle for genuine human development.

Spanning 66 years of social development work, the KKFI started as a feeding program for children that missionary Madaleine Kleeper set up in 1949.

The feeding program spawned a kindergarten and a pre-school. At the same time, the children’s parents were provided with skills or livelihood training like sewing.

During martial law in the 1970s, KKFI responded to the issue of the time, opening the center to student activists.

Until today, KKFI remains committed to the marginalized sector, says Nancy, relating that farmers from Tarlac and Sumilao, Bukidnon have at times sought their help when they travel to the metropolis.

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A volunteer teacher for Likharal looks on as students accomplish an exercise

 

“But what remains is education, that’s our expertise,” Nancy says.

From offering pre-school education, they moved on to the Alternative Learning System (ALS) for poor children in elementary and high school levels starting in 2011

Development work is not an easy task, according to Nancy, as she stressed that they have a lot of support groups.relief.JPGslipper.JPG

KKFI executive director Nancy Nicolas distributes relief goods to victims of calamities in the provinces and slippers to beneficiaries in Navotas.

 

“We cannot do everything. We have to partner with like-minded organizations like the church,” she says.

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Nancy Nicolas signs a memorandum of agreement with representatives of Unilab and Lighthouse Baptist Church, KKFI’s partners.

 

“Ninety percent of our budget comes from our facilities like our dormitories. We have offices, basketball courts, and of course, donations are welcome,” Nancy says.

“We have volunteers from Africa, the US and other parts of the world, but their social development skills should match those that we need. They serve normally for about a year or two, but the others extend.”

Wilma Galacio, who had been living in the Manila North Cemetery for over 20 years and whose three children enrolled in the ALS, expressed gratefulness to KKFI for what she described as a big blessing to her family. She said she never imagined it was possible to send her children to school. To express her gratitude, she volunteered to cook the meals offered to ALS students.

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An ALS student demonstrates her skill in massage therapy at the KKFI spa center.

 

Leonard, one of Wilma’s children, meanwhile, vowed not to waste the opportunity given to him. “Hindi ako magsasayang ng panahon. Desidido akong makaangat sa buhay (I will not waste time. I am determined to improve my life),” he says.

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Nancy tries to use a solar-powered cooker donated by Brainfood, a Washington based NGO.

 

Last year, the KKFI also started to provide technical education using the dual training system of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) called the training for employment program.

Under the scheme, the students have classroom education for six months then proceed to their on-the-job training wherein they will already be paid by their employers.

KKFI also helps find scholarships for ALS students who are able to pass the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) test.

To provide livelihood for those who do not pass the A&E test, KKFI put up a spa where they could work as massage therapists.

“We are not going to stop. Otherwise this will impede the transformation of the students,” Nancy says.

While the process of transformation may seem never-ending and at times difficult, Nancy offers another important word: hope. “Kahit ‘yun man lang maibigay naming (Even if we could only give them that),” she says, explaining how some poor students who had the opportunity to go to school quickly realized they could do something to chart their future.

“Their perspective changes. They start to think that they have value in our society,” she says.

But things do not always go according to plan, says Nancy, so they always have to keep their doors open.

“When you plan, you usually have a time frame – which may not necessarily be followed. Like if the process of a child’s development is slow, then we have to extend our time frame,” she says.

“At the end of the day, you have to be flexible, you have to have a back-up plan, otherwise you will end up frustrated.”

Nancy believes in the saying that great things almost always start small, and what’s important is stepping toward the right direction, similar to what the KKFI has done throughout the years.

Ultimately, what the KKFI inculcates into the minds of the beneficiaries is that without spiritual growth, the pursuit for a better life would not be sustainable.

Spiritual growth, transformation and hope – that’s what can be found in the heart of Manila’s best kept secret.