Yesterday was an interesting day for me. Mostly it was a normal day, but a couple of things happened which were highlights of my day.
Firstly, in the morning, I met with Tom Martin. Tom is not a relative, we just share the Martin name! I met Tom in person for the first time on December 23, just two days before Christmas. I had known of Tom for several years, as he lives in Davao, and also is a somewhat regular commenter here on LiP. Tom is a retired Priest, and I had been interested in meeting him for some time. In December, I e-mailed him and set up a meeting. I think that both Tom and I enjoyed the time we shared together, and thus we set up a second meeting yesterday at a coffee shop in SM. During my time in SM with Tom, I saw several people who were friends, and they stopped by and said hello to us at the coffee shop. It was a nice morning, and I look forward to getting together with Tom again in the near future. That part of the day was planned and expected.
Yesterday afternoon, though, Feyma told me that her sister-in-law was in Davao, and would be stopping by later in the day. I really do not know this sister-in-law too well, though. She just married Feyma’s older brother, Boning, within the past year. To be honest, I do not know Boning that well either, because over the years we had few chances to really communicate. Boning has only a limited education, and he can speak no English at all, only Bisaya. So, over the years we were really unable to communicate, until recently. We have had several nice conversations in the past couple years, though, since I learned to speak Bisaya, which has been nice.
When Cita, Feyma’s sister-in-law, came, she brought her young niece with her. The niece’s name is Jonalyn and she is 13 years old. I could see that Jonalyn was very poor. I started speaking to her in Bisaya and she was quite amazed, you could see it on her face. I asked her how old she was, and she told me she was 13 years old. I thought she was a lot younger, maybe 9 or 10. I would guess that her growth has been somewhat stunted due to a lack of food. I next asked her if she attends school, and she said yes. Given her age, I thought that she must be in 1st Year High School, that is the age for that grade. When I asked her, though, I found out that she is in 3rd Grade. Wow! I was told that due to a lack of funds, many years she cannot attend school, so that is why she is behind where she should be.
I found Jonalyn to be quite cute, although obviously poor. When she would smile, it was quite infectious. I enjoyed talking to her, because although she was shy, she was quite amazed that I could speak Bisaya, and she was willing to talk to me a bit. I decided that I wanted to help her with a little lunch money for school, so I got together enough for the entire week next week. I decided to give her P20 per day, which is the same that we give to the poor students which we are helping.
After gathering the money for her lunch at school, I went and tracked her down again, and told her that I wanted to talk to her. I asked her if she attends school daily, and she assured me that she does. Next, I asked her how much her lunch money is every day. I was quite shocked when she told me that her daily lunch money is P2, less than 5 US Cents. Wow, my heart really sunk upon hearing that. I told her that I had some lunch money for her, and wanted to help her, and I gave her P100, enough for P20 per day for the next week. She was so happy, and I was happy to see it. She was very thankful too. I asked her what she could buy for lunch with just P2, and she told me that she usually buys a cracker for her lunch. How sad.
Jonalyn started telling me a little more about herself. She told me that their house had been washed away during some flooding, and that Davao Mayor Sarah Duterte had given her family some money to find a new place to live in. I asked her when her house was destroyed, but she could not remember when it happened, it was like she has little sense of time, which I can understand, as every day is a struggle for her.
After talking with Jonalyn I got thinking. Before she came, I had been sitting in my bedroom with the AirCon blasting away and keeping the room very cold. I was watching a movie on TV, enjoying myself. I had a glass of Coke Light. Then this poor young girl came, and opened my eyes to her daily life. It made me feel guilty for all of the things that I have, and I take much of it for granted while young children like this are suffering in poverty. It’s hard to reconcile feelings like that after seeing and talking to a young person like this.
Jonalyn is coming back here again on Saturday with her aunt. I am looking forward to seeing her again, and I really like the girl. She is shy, but still a bit outgoing and willing to talk with a little prompting. I hope that we can develop a friendship in the coming months. She is a cute little girl, and well mannered.