Zuriel, Keeshia, Sierra, Dexter, Franz, 5 kids for 5 stories among millions there in the Philippines. I met some of them 1st in 2010. Coming back almost 2 years after allows to have an idea of how they are growing, how the Bacolod Patenkinder NGO, aka Bacpat, improves their lives. Let Bacpat manager in Bacolod presents them.
A full photo album of each kid is showcase in my visual stories, so you can have a glimpse of their lives and entourage, how looks the area they’re living in. You can also read the presentation of Bacolod projects I have visited.
He’s now 14 years old; 12 when you first met him. His mother Julie earns a living as a laundrywoman, raising and supporting 5 children all by herself ever since her husband abandoned the family 6 years ago. But money is always scarce. When there is no food on the table, Zuriel goes to the nearby “beach” to find shellfish to eat. (It makes good “adobo”, he says) Cleaning the yard, cooking rice, washing dishes are Zuriel’s responsibilities at home. He loves to draw cartoon characters. His childhood dream is to be an engineer. He is well aware that getting an education is the only way for him and his family to improve their lot.
Bacpat will ensure that Zuriel and his family will live a better life. Bacpat safeguards his future, providing his school needs, checking on his progress, providing access to medical care. Because Bacpat works to make children’s dreams come true.
You first met in 2010. Keeshia like Zuriel lives in Calong-calong, an old relocation site of Bacolod City where former slum dwellers own their land. Keeshia lives in a house of bamboo and improvised materials. A strong typhoon had just passed through the city and blew off their old nipa roof. Her father had put up huge plastic covers to try to prevent rain from falling into the house. Otherwise, because they didn’t have flooring, they would be standing on mud.
That year, Keeshia had just become a Bacpat scholar. She was 8 years old, a Grade 2 student. Even then, she wanted to be a businesswoman. Perhaps it was because she was a huge admirer of parents who were struggling peddlers. Every day, they made 200 pieces of siomal (dumplings), and sold them on the streets. On a good day, they earned 150 pesos, not enough to feed and raise a family of 5.
Two years later, life has improved quite a bit, largely due to Bacpat’s assistance. Bacpat provides for Keeshia’s school needs, sacks of rice and medical assistance for the family. This gives the family a chance to expand their business. At home, they raise and sell fish (for aquariums). Mother has a street stall where she sells accessories and school supplies. Father sells too.
When I first met Sierra, I was struck by how bright-eyed and happy she was. She was actually bigger than many kids her age, but she was still a little child with a merry and sunny disposition. In her family, she told me, she was called “Princess.” A little princess, in my jaded point of view, is a mismatch in this place she calls “home.” The family home made of bamboo was wobbly and on the verge of falling apart. When it rained, everyone got wet. And every rainy day made the house even more vulnerable. It stood on a decomposing landfill – a garbage dump, if you may – certainly not a place for a “Princess”.
Arturo, a hardworking welder, and Maylen, a dedicated housewife, are loving parents whose only dream in life is to see their children finish their studies and have a better life different than theirs. It is not only their house that is precarious. Here is a simple, beautiful family who live dangerously every minute of the day. And yet, you can never hear them complain or engage in self-pity. They are ordinary folks sharing so much kindness, generosity and warmth to anyone, whether stranger or friend. They make their children feel like royalty. They are royalty. Having no land of their own, Arturo found a spot that provided a possibility for a family home and so he created and built this makeshift land. It was creekside, but for 2-3 years, he kept filling that area with garbage (plastic bags and waste) and sawdust until it seemed flat enough to build a house. In fact, he encouraged his neighbors to throw their plastic waste in his land rather than at the creek and thought he was doing another good deed. It was only after we had met that he came to realize that methane gas emitted from decomposing plastic is hazardous to their health. He has stopped this practice since.
Dexter lives in Murcia, in a barrio 20km from Bacolod. He was born deaf. His parents knew nothing about deafness and so, Dexter had been living in his own small silent world for 12 years. It was only in 2000 when they heard about the deaf school of Welcome Home Foundation and realized that even deaf people can communicate and can read and write like normal kids! So at 13 years old, through the support of Bacpat, he began prep school, learned sign language, met and made friends with other deaf kids in school, most of whom were half his age. Still, he loves going to school even if he has to travel quite a distance into the city every day. He plays basketball and runs marathons, and watches all of Manny Pacquiao’s boxing feats. His father Noli, a mechanic, has a vulcanizing shop by the highway. It is a lucky day for Dexter when a truck stops to have its tires repaired. That means he gets food and transportation money tomorrow.
Bacpat supported Dexter all through his school life, providing him the necessary tools to live independently and enabling him to carve a better life for himself and his family. In 2012, he graduated from Welcome Home’s Computer Literacy and Agriculture Training and found a job.
Franz lives in Kabugwason, a relocation site in the suburbs of Bacolod. He is a good and eager student, his medals are displayed on the walls by his proud parents. He likes to draw and go camping. At home, he likes to cook and hopes to become a chef, finding inspiration from the Filipina chef at the White House.
Later, Franz found a new love in singing. Learning on his own, he represents the school in literary musical contests. (as you said, it just might be his ticket to a better life!).
How to help Bacpat kids
Of course, you can help Bacpat, Bacolod Patenkinder, sponsor a kid, donation, chose your way to help. You can visit already Bacolod Patenkinder website !