My wonderful family and friends,
So I'm now settled into the dorm in Quezon City, and I'll be starting Tagalog language school on Monday! In the meantime, I've been catching up with friends and with everything going on in my team's programs here.
On Saturday nights, I return to Manila and sleep over at the home of my friends Mackie, Lerma, and my Goddaughter Yanarah Micah Custodio (though she goes by her middle name - Micah). She is 11 months old and absolutely beautiful. Her daddy Mackie is a good friend and fellow teacher in the daycare. Him and all his relatives live in a very compact squatter community. Mackie built his own home out of four plywood walls and a wooden ladder to a second level. When I stay over, I sleep on the lower level and Mackie's family sleeps up top. It's a pretty cozy duplex. I'm so thankful for their hospitality and for the chance to spend quality time with my Goddaughter each week. We're now teaching Micah how to walk. I also enjoy playing with Mackie's nieces and nephews. His five-year-old niece Michelle is one of our newest Daycare students, and the two of us love to play hide-and-seek. When I ask her "Nasaan ka?" (Where are you?) she always responds "Sa puso mo!" (Here in your heart!). ...can you really blame me for falling in love with these Filipino children? :)
My adorable Goddaughter Micah.
Micah and I holding on tight to each other.
One of my greatest joys was in witnessing the progress of the educational daycare which Toph, Tin Tin, and I established just 18 months ago. All of our students have new, "formal" uniforms - just like the ones in elementary schools in Manila. We're also sending several children to formal elementary school through a scholarship program Toph, Tin Tin, and I also envisioned called Educational Assistance (EA). Through this program, my team gives financial aid to street children for their school payments, uniforms, lunch, and transportation to-and-from school. Many of the recipients of our EA program graduated from our daycare program last year.
Here are some photos I took last week of a typical day in Daycare. You'll see our students getting picked up by our team van, studying hard and learning from Teacher Mackie, and of course having lots of fun and enjoying the comfort of a safe place off the streets. Enjoy!
Mothers of our students send off their kids as they climb aboard the van.
...yes, we pick up the children in a big, sketchy, white van.
Mackie teaches their phonics lesson each Friday.
Jet Jet plays with the alphabet blocks.
The sheer focus and determination in writing the letter "H".
Many volunteers and teachers like Roldan (red shirt)
and Tin Tin (yellow shirt) help out every day.
Developing social skills and making
friendships are what our students do best.
Thank you so much for following along with my blog! May you also experience the joy and blessings of knowing that your support and prayers change lives in this community. Take care and God bless!