“What do you think can we give the kids?”
“Pencils”, I replied.
He laughed at me in disbelief.
Before Chris flew to meet me the first time, other than the personal things we talked about, our conversation revolves around the topic of kids in my community. He has been reading a lot about the Philippines since the day we started talking. (I was amazed by how much he has known, at least at that point.) Street kids, teenage moms, drugs, homeless people, drunkards and gossipers were just a fraction of these conversations. 😀
Since we both share almost the same childhood experience of struggles and victories, we were talking about doing something good for the kids in the neighborhood. I have to admit I admire him so much more with this. ❤
I was born and raised in this community and I have seen how fast my former playmates have transformed into teenage moms. While I was busy fighting my own battles to realizing dreams, their kids have also grown as fast as the progress I am making.
So, when Chris asked me what he could possibly bring for the kids, I undoubtedly uttered, “pencils”.
He was stunned. I understand him, though.
He didn’t complain much, anyway. My Deutsch flew with 10 sets of colored pencils; 2 sets for each kid in my mom’s weekend catechism.
Then it was time to meet the kids. He still had his jet lag, but the look in his eyes told me he was even more stunned seeing the kids up close. He stood there for a while, giving me the kind of look as if to confirm these kids are the ones we were talking about. And I just smiled.
The kiddos couldn’t believe they will receive some presents way ahead of Christmas. Their giggles echoed realizing it is actually from “the white guy”. They can’t stop feeling the packets, too.
My mom then came out with an idea of making the kids draw, and handed them pieces of paper. She asked them to make something for Chris.
“But I don’t have a pencil,” uttered one of them.
There was silence for some seconds, until Chris, realizing that the kids didn’t know what is obviously inside the packets said…
“These are pencils, use these.”
And the kids started to open the packets, carefully examining the colored pencils and then scribbling cautiously. I saw sadness in Chris’ eyes. I felt the same. In the kindergarten I run, kids have more than enough of these and don’t care much about pencils as much as these kids did.
So as they were busy drawing on the floor, Chris gave me a tight press on the hand. He then said it is time we give the kids some chocolates. I took the ones he bought especially for them out of the fridge and as the kids are busy, he handed them a small box each. He was then left to wondering again as they don’t seem to be excited about their chocolate packs (Chris read how Pinoys would go crazy for these sweet treat).
“Why are you not eating your chocolates?”, he asked.
“I will eat this at home with my sister and brother,” answered one of the kids.
He ended up going back to the fridge and getting a bigger pack of chocolate which he divided among the kids to eat, with us. As soon as the kids handed their artwork to him, he asked me if it is possible to bring the kids home. I agreed.
We went through the small walkways and reach the house of one of the kids. They were old neighbors who used to share the big playground in the vacant lots some decades back. They were happy to see a foreign guy strolling around this area, trying to have some conversations.
Along the way, Chris couldn’t help but notice the clothes being dried up in the sun. They looked really old and torn.
We didn’t stay long there. Chris was very silent as we go back home. After dinner, we decided to stroll by the nearby esplanade and as we were walking, he told me how lucky he felt he is, and that his perspective have changed so much.
He was sleepless that night.
He said he never knew what a simple packet of pencil can do to kids like these. It was indeed an awakening for him that what is basically considered “nothing” on his side of the world can make so much difference in mine.
Let’s see what we can do next 🙂
Thanks for dropping by!