Bearnest Hemingway, one of our handcrafted Li’l Creatures made by volunteer Mitch, has found a home and a loyal friend with Aloise. According to Grandpa Pedro, Aloise so loves Bearnest, she takes him along wherever she goes, even to meals and such. We wonder where she’ll take him next during this summer in California.
Meanwhile, across the Pacific, the monsoon season has begun in the Philippines. But, we don’t let that get us down. In fact, good news has been shining down on us even as we move into our fallow period, our standby mode, as we relax, regroup, and reenergize.
Over on the island of Negros Occidental, in the town of Murcia, our book boxes landed at Minoyan Elementary School.
Thank you to Ms. Stella Garzon for helping facilitate this request and pointing us to where books and classroom materials are urgently needed.
“The pupils, teachers, administrators, and parents of Minoyan Elementary School are very grateful for the books and learning materials. God bless you and thank you to the donors (River Oaks Charter School) for your generosity and kindness,” Teacher Stella says.
Meanwhile, long months of hard work, amazing perseverance, admirable team effort, and the unstinting kindness of family, friends, and strangers finally resulted in quiet celebrations in the little town of Pilar, Capiz.
In 2013, when Typhoon Haiyan swept through northern Panay Island, Pilar Elementary School sustained considerable damage. It was rebuilt through donations. Six years later, here’s the rest of the story.
In November 2018, we were contacted by Ms. Desiree Badana-Muñoz, herself an unrelenting force of nature. An alumna of the elementary school, Desiree decided to adopt two kindergarten classrooms. She also decided to make the Reading Room, Activity Room, and the Art Room her “baby projects.” Aghast that many of the students walked miles to school every day, without breakfast and with only a handful of boiled rice for lunch, she and her sisters “adopted” them, too. That is, they began a hot lunch program, three days a week for 40 children out of a list of 200. To maximize their limited funds, they rotated a new group of students every two months to help every child in the list.
“I am almost 65 years old and had a career in advertising and promotions. I’m also an artist. But I still work to finance my passion and advocacy for education and arts. I am taking care of a 103- year-old lady 5 days a week. On weekends, I run around discount stores to buy supplies, go to libraries for free books and collect donated stuff from friends and family to send to the school. But I can only do so much,” Desiree narrates on her GoFundMe page.
Based in Los Angeles, Desiree brought her organizational expertise to bear on her passion project, enlisting the help of teachers in Pilar whom she designated to handle different responsibilities. And the responsibilities were many, indeed.
“The Department of Education failed to send textbooks the past couple of years. Furniture such as tables, bookshelves, cubbies, and magazine racks are being made locally. I donated trees from our farm for this purpose. Some, I ordered from Roxas City. Others I bought from Iloilo. The rooms had to be repaired and repainted, floors resurfaced, window grills installed, and entry locks replaced. It’s a start-from-scratch situation and it’s very expensive. But it’s coming together,” she says. “I didn’t realize this would take up 70% of my time and I’m sleeping very late due to the time zone difference, but I love every minute of it!”
By March 2019, Desiree was back home in Pilar, still working to help her “baby” take its first steps.
With our humble donation, we’re happy and honored to be standing alongside Desiree and her team, and all the other individuals and groups who served the children of Pilar Elementary School.
Finally, in Iloilo City, the outgoing mayor and his own hardworking team gave Ilonggo children and their families something to celebrate as well. After years of living with dilapidated and neglected public playgrounds…
… the city finally unveiled new play structures in the plazas (public parks) of the different city districts in the first half of 2019.
This is why, every time we hear news about people and their projects for children, we feel—as that old, bouncy tune goes—”we’re walking on sunshine!” And, we can’t help but spread the good news.