If you read my article on Monday, you know that the 2010 LiP Christmas Giveaway happened last Friday, December 24, 2010. I told you in that article, though, that there was an unexpected twist this year, something totally new for the LiP Christmas Giveaway. To me, what happened last week will change the LiP Giveaway forever, and it will be changed in a good way.
It all started last Tuesday. Feyma and I like to move the Christmas Giveaway to a different area each year, and on Tuesday I asked Feyma where we should go this year to give away the Christmas treats. We were honestly having a hard time deciding where we would go. We have been doing this for long enough that we have covered most of the very poor areas near Davao. We were unable to think of a good place where we should go.
On Wednesday, it was my regular day for my Cebuano Lesson, and my teacher, Bebe Metillo came to my house to give me my lesson. During our discussion, Bebe was telling me of some Christmas Carolers who had visited her house a few days earlier. Bebe told me that there were 4 young carolers, and they were classmates of her daughter, Lorie Ann. Bebe told me that she had invited the kids in to her house, and she gave them some cookies. These kids are 14 to 15 years old, and I was quite shocked when Bebe told me that it was the first time that any of these kids had eaten a cookie before, and they enjoyed it a lot. We talked more, and Bebe told me about how Lorie Ann had been trying to help these kids, because they are so poor. It was revealed to me that these kids are very poor. In the morning, there is no breakfast. At school, the only lunch they have most of the time is hot water. If there is a school activity that requires a bit of money, even P20 or so, Lorie Ann asks around to other kids to see if they can collect enough to cover these 4 kids, because they have nothing. In recent weeks, Lorie Ann has been taking a few pieces of bread to school to share with these kids, so that they would have something to eat.
All 4 of these students are honor students and are placed in the honors class. They are among the brightest kids in Davao.
As I talked with Bebe, my discussion with Feyma from the day before came to mind. We had been searching our minds to find out where we would give out goodies for Christmas this year. It felt in my heart that we were meant to help these students and their families. I asked Bebe if Lorie Ann could come and take us to the houses of each of these kids, and she agreed to do so. We decided to prepare an extra special giveaway for these 4 families, much more than we gave to the others that we gave to. We prepared about double the amount of food, and also two fresh chickens for each of these families.
Our first stop on this “extra giveaway” was the house of Riza. The house was in the City, but there were no roads there to drive on. We had to walk in, crossing over many obstacles! But, once we finally reached the house, we found it very obvious that there was great need. Even though they were living within the city, the house was very simple, made out of bamboo and other natural materials. I met Riza and she had two sisters. I met her mother and father too. We gave them several bags of food and chickens for their Christmas dinner (Noche Buena). They were very, very grateful. The family expected us, because Lorie Ann had texted them the day before. They had an idea of what was happening. In addition to the Christmas food, we had another surprise for them too, something even better than the food. I will tell you about this at the end of this article.
Next, we drove to another nearby area, parked the car, and took off walking. This house was also inaccessible by car, and this one was a long walk in! As we approached the house, we saw a bunch of ducks there, apparently these people are keeping them as pets, and maybe getting eggs from them, I suppose. The student at this house was Beverly. She was not expecting us at all, because although Lorie Ann had sent a message to them, they did not get it. So, they were greatly surprised to see this foreigner and a bunch of Filipinos coming to bring them some Christmas Presents! This girl was very shy, and it was hard to get her to speak at all at first. But, after a while she opened up and talked with us. Again, we gave her and her family some food for their Christmas Dinner, and also a special surprise, to be revealed at the end of this article. I spent some time talking with the girl, her mother and grandmother. Very nice people, and very thankful for the help we were able to give them. These are the kind of people that will really warm your heart.
For me, the highlight of this special giveaway came at house #3. This was the house of Debbie. Debbie’s father is Dave and her mother is Rose. Debbie also has a younger brother named Dave Jr. Below is a video of the time we spent with Debbie and her family. As I talked with Dave, he told me that he is a Security Guard, but has been unable to find work for over a year now. As he told me about his life, he had tears running down his face, and I was very near to that myself. Debbie is an honor student, and has trophies and certificates indicating so in the living room where they live. The family does not have a house. Their house was demolished, I am not sure how or why. But, somebody owned a laboratory here in Davao and they let Dave and his family live there, as they have nothing. I really enjoyed my time in talking with Dave, Rose and the kids. Their appreciation was so apparent that it literally brought tears to my eyes.
Let me say this as an aside – a lot of the pictures and videos show me with the families that we give to. It should be known that Feyma, our kids and nieces and nephews are also an integral part of this giveaway. I am not usually the one with the camera, and those who have the camera tend to focus on taking photos of me, but others are as deeply involved in this as I am.
After finishing up with Debbie and her family, we headed to the house of Apple, which was fairly close. I was quite shocked when Lorie Ann took us to Apple’s house, because it was located in a fairly nice subdivision! I asked Lorie Ann if she was really certain that Apple was in need, and Lorie Ann told me that this was not their house, but a house owned by a Pastor, and he allowed Apple and her family to live there, as they are deeply in need. Apple’s father makes and sells Kwek-Kwek (a snack food which consists of a hard boiled duck egg which is coated in batter and fried). The money he earns is a very meager amount. We met Apple and her sister, and talked with them for a while. We noticed that there were no lights inside the house, and it was very dark. We do not know, perhaps they have no electricity, or maybe they were just conserving. We gave Apple the food for the family Christmas Dinner, and talked with her more. We enjoyed it very much. Later on the evening of Christmas Eve, as we were having family time at our house, I got a Text from Apple thanking me for what we had done for her and her family. She told me that when her Mom got home, she was so shocked to learn that they had something for Christmas. I could not read the text without crying, it was very touching.
Now, as I told you earlier in this article, in addition to the food we gave these people for their Christmas Dinner, we had an extra surprise for them. I told each of the four girls that we are sponsoring them for the rest of the school year. We will be buying school lunches for these four girls for the remainder of the school year. I also gave each of the girls my cell phone number and told them to text me if there were other school related needs that came up for the rest of the year. Additionally, I told each of the girls, that while I cannot promise, I would try to help them get a summer job when school is finished, so that they can earn some money to apply toward next year, when each of them will be in their final year of high school.
As I said, it seemed that helping these kids was just something that was meant to be. It brought a lot of joy and reflection to both Feyma and I. We hope that in the future we can find kids like this who are very intelligent, get good grades in school, but need a little extra help to make their learning a bit more comfortable. If we can find a few every year, we will be helping them too, and gladly so. If the LiP drive continues to grow in coming years, maybe we can take on more students each year. Whatever happens, we hope that these 4 girls can finish up school feeling a bit better, and having a full stomach after lunch time. If they were already good students, having a meal during the school day should only help them improve!
Thank you to LiP readers who supported the Christmas Giveaway this year. Your help will give these kids more than just a lunch of hot water, and maybe a piece of bread from time to time.