Dear friends and family,
Nobody understands the seriousness of play like a toddler. I'm excited to have finally launched our new Early Childhood Education Center for children ages 1-3. Entitled "SMART Kids", this is the latest addition to our educational programs for street kids. "SMART" is a Tagalog acronym that describes how our students actively learn and grow. Parents are also an active part of each class as we seek to simultaneously train and empower them. In my orientation for the parents last Monday, I explained how my intention is not to take any responsibility away from them as caregivers. During the program, the parents themselves feed their children, assist them in potty training, and engage them in educational learning and play. Along the way we guide and train these young parents to help them develop greater confidence in their role as the primary caregiver.
|"Nice to meet you! You play here often?"|
|Greeting parents and students on the first day|
|Giving an orientation on the program, including the expectations of the parents, students, and teachers|
I want to thank all of my supporters (including one-time donors) as you have contributed greatly towards the supplies and toys for SMART Kids. This program wouldn't exist without your generous support. I'm also particularly grateful for the self-determined rallying of my sister Erin with her piano students to give donations towards SMART Kids. Thank you!
In other good news, we've had some very passionate and hard-working visitors drop by to help IT Tender. Amongst those are a young British couple named Joe Brook and Johanna Browning (aka Joe & Jo). They dedicated one month to serving the street children in our community. They were particularly fond of the kids in our Night Life program. Bonds were quickly formed, enriching lessons were shared by the couple, and neither the street kids nor Joe & Jo will be the same after this experience.
Joe & Jo shared with me some of the lessons they learned during their stay in Manila. In their own words, they explained:
"Our backgrounds in evangelizing at University had placed great emphasis on meeting the spiritual needs of those around us, but here we have learnt that a much more holistic approach is needed. The physical and emotional health of the children needs to be met before sharing Jesus. This is not to say that sharing Jesus with them is not the priority, this is always at the forefront of our minds, but rather an unloved child without food for the day has Jesus at the bottom of his priorities. We have loved loving them holistically."
|Joe & Jo lead games with the Night Life clients|
|There is no electricity in this area where we bring Night Life to the community, so we rely on candles and flashlights|
|Joe & Jo serve the food for the street kids|
|These two lovely Brits will surely be missed!|
I was also blessed and delighted when my cousin and close friend Dave Paetkau came to visit. He experienced as much as possible about the culture, the poverty, and the beautiful scenery in the Philippines in a one-week, whirlwind tour. We're thankful for the time he gave in visiting the community and volunteering in our SLC preschool.
|First time riding a Jeepney|
|Getting to know the kids in the Sucat community|
|Typical homes in the community|
|Dave enjoys bonding with our SLC students|
Director of IT Tender
Caring for street children ~ Isaiah 58:10