By Yay Padua-Olmedo

Kiana teaches Aeta kids. Not only that, she sponsors 18 of them so they could go to school. At this stage in her life, Kiana is paying it both ways―backward and forward.

Flashback, 1991. Kiana’s father, Artemio Castillo (Manong Arting), faced his most harrowing experience. Mount Pinatubo erupted, entombing whatever little dream or hope they held on to.

“Ayaw ko nang balikan ang ala-alang ‘yun,” he testified in the recent World Vision (WV) appreciation event for its sponsors. “Kapapanganak pa lang ng asawa ko. Napakahirap umalis. Unahan (ang mga naiwan) sa pagkuha ng kabaong. Dating nang dating ang mga patay.” (I want to forget it ever happened. My wife just gave birth. It was hard to leave. (People were) jostling for coffins. The dead just kept coming.)

Manong Arting’s Aeta community became World Vision’s special project. Not only were the children provided education. More than 150 Aeta families from Iba, Zambales, were relocated to a place they called “Lupang Pangako” (Land of Promise). Manong Arting today pastors his Aeta congregation, constantly reminding them of God’s great love and faithfulness.

“Inspiring” was this event’s recurring tone―when WV Vision recognized the role of child sponsors, sought more sponsors to commit, and demonstrated that lives can indeed be changed if people cared.

You may on the surface think that WV is all about sending underprivileged kids to school. Look further and you’ll realize that for each child that you send to school, families are likewise engaged, through livelihood, health and spiritual programs―all to empower communities towards productivity in all areas of their lives.

“It takes a village to raise a child”―an African proverb.

Note that many among the five-year loyal donors are millennials! Many of these sponsors (some of them 15 and 20-year sponsors) support not just one but many children. The World Vision staff, management, and board members―headed by former BIR Commissioner Liwayway Vinzons-Chato―themselves have their own personally-supported kids. That’s walking the talk!

The author (center) at the partner appreciation event of World Vision

Jack and I continued the sponsorship of our daughter Carmela (whose family now lives overseas) who at a young age deemed it proper to extend help in a disciplined way. Our sponsored child, Leah Melcah, is now a high school student. Her recent letter to us: “Thank you for all the advice nyo sa akin. Makakaasa po kayo na panghahawakan ko ang inyong bigay na mga salita ng Diyos. Ganon din po kayo…patuloy na kumapit sa Diyos at ‘wag kaligtaan na mag-pray sa kanya…” (Trust that I will hold on to the Word of God which you gave me. May you too hold on to God and not neglect to pray.)

When Jack and I retired and started to depend on our SSS pensions for our daily provisions, the temptation to stop helping charities bugged us. But how could we when God is our provider? When has He ever failed us? True, nowadays, we give sacrificially―especially since our maths still would not add up. But what’s P750 a month if it means a child (without the means to make it because of extreme poverty) will have a chance to become a doctor or a scientist or a soldier?

Giving up six Starbucks lattes―or a pair of jeans―a month in exchange for a child being freed from scarcity? That’s a no brainer!

One of the event’s guest performers, contemporary artist, Quest (his real name Jose Villanueva III, himself a child sponsor) summed up the WV challenge via his “Sige Lang” song’s chorus:

Walang imposible sige lang nang sige

Abot mo ang mundo

Malapit o malayo sama sama tayo (sama sama tayo)

Hanggang sa dulo ano man ang pagsubok

Hindi susuko, alam kong kaya mo

Sige lang sige! Sige lang sige!

Walang imposible!

People helping people. That’s what it’s all about! I pray you will be up to the challenge.

Jesus says in Matthew 25:40 “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

To get in touch with World Vision: email wv_phil@wvi.org. Donor Hotline  +632372777.

Yay believes that her purpose as a Christian is to become salt and light where God has placed her. Aside from teaching Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations at Southville Foreign University in Las Pinas City, Philippines, she conducts motivational and business seminars and write inspirational materials. You can visit her blog at http://nuggetslifeslittlelessons.blogspot.com/

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