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I met Daisy, 8, at a Saturday morning enrichment program in developed and run by Christian Foundation for Children and Aging in the Philippines. About 50 children from the Lumbangan community go to the four-sectioned, open-air classroom one day a week. For many of the children who attend, this is their only school experience.

Eight-year-olds being eight-year-olds meant that most of the girls sat with other girls, and most of the boys clumbed together on the other side of the bamboo table. The kids were SO excited – figuring out math problems and spelling vocabulary words correctly. They raised their hands to answer questions like thirsty sprouts straining for drops of rain.

That scene was inspiring enough…but the second part of the story was the group of teachers at the school. They were students themselves! Five or six young adults teach at the school as part of their community service requirement through the CFCA scholarship program. As they receive their training, this is a way for them to give back and nurture their community.

Part three was the reality of the Lumbangan community, which is the site of a large city dump. Most of the kids’ parents scaenge at the dump site for a living. THe children, including Daisy, help their parents. The family fypically makes from $2 to $4 per day.

After class, everyone lined up for a hot meal the mothers prepared – rice and vegetables boiled in a huge metal pot over an open flame.

Then the kids ran back to the dump site. They were filled with joy and laughter, even while going shoeless in the muddy, gooey garbage. They played with dilapidated toys they found. The typical face of poverty is not downtrodden, sad and gloomy. The face of poverty is Daisy’s face, smiling, smart and eager, while living with tremendous daily challenges.

Daisy’s mom, Melanie, introduced me to Daniel, Daisy’s dad, who had been working at the dump site all morning. As I put my hand out to shake his, he pulled his arm back. Melanie, said, “He’s been working; his hand is dirty.” I said that was OK. But he smiled and shook his head. I smiled and said how good it was to meet him.

Education is a huge part of what a CFCA sponsorship provides to families. It’s a chance for chldren to gain skills and break the cycle of poverty. Sponsorship helps with food, with health care and with having a decent place to live.

But, here’s the other thing – CFCA’s tagline says that it offers hope and restores dignity. It really does do that. Sponsorship gives parents of sponsored children hope and a strong connection to their community.

Daisy now has a sponsor. I look forward to visiting the Lumangan community again and finding out what a difference the extra support has meant to Daisy’s family. I hope Daisy will share what she has learned, that Melanie will feel more hope in a brighter future for her daughter and that Daniel will shake my hand.

 

P.S. – I work for CFCA out of the Kansas headquarters. To see a picture of Daisy, please visit www.cfcausa.org/nopoverty. The page includes a video showing the Lumbangan dumpsite.

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