The moment we came in, the children of Virlanie foundation screamed and everyone were waving at us and saying "Merry Christmas Ate", "Thank you Ate!" (Ate is how we address the elders with respect in Philippines). We haven't even met them face to face and we haven't even given them anything. But the warm welcome from these innocent children almost gave me an overwhelming joy that you can clearly see on their grateful face. They are all giggling and waving us eagerly with a genuine happy smile.
I have never done this in my Life and there were too many questions in my mind before we head to the foundation. What would the children be like? Will they be able to join the games that we prepared for them? Will they appreciate our gifts? I introduced myself to them and they were intently listening to us, trying to comprehend what I was saying. There were about 25 children. I mentioned that my Company Optinova helped me to make the outreach possible. Though they don't clearly understand what I was saying, their genuine smile and eagerness doesn't fade from their faces. We played games after the introduction. As we play they keep begging for more games but time was so limited. Then by the time, we had to feed them, they were asked to be on queue. They are so disciplined and I was touched and got teary eyed on that very moment. These children are so disciplined. Everyone went to wash their hands first before going to their designated table. They ate their food properly. We were allowed to serve them ice cream after their proper meal, although it was not advisable because sweets will make them energetic and hyper. But they were so delighted by it. As we talked with the volunteers and coordinators of the foundation, we learned that some of them go to sped school. Some are even getting an allowance from the city government because they help in the school kitchen or they make some fancy jewelries and sell them out. The oldest of them who's name is Rommel, joined a culinary competition. He can cook so well. These children have a God given talents. I can't help but admire them with their talents, strength and determination.
This special experience was an awesome experience. This is a great step for us in extending our help to less fortunate. It is the most rewarding and fun experience and we learn a lot from them. I have learned through them that happiness and contentment are choices. Innocent minds are far more contented than people in the outside world. An outreach program like this put me out of the box of my Comfort zone. I realized that the activity was just a fleeting relief to their hunger. There is much deeper and broader hunger that needs to be satisfied- hunger for a decent life with love.
A big thank you to Optinova and to the people who has been part of this program possible.
- Jenny Salvador Karlsson