Thursday, April 2, 2009
Doing More for the Children of the Philippines
1. My Cute Host Cousins
2. Our 1st Art Class with Kuya Romeo
3. "The Choice Is Yours" Workshop with DSWD Girls
4. Random Pics of RSCC Kids
I came to the Philippines wanting to make a positive impact in the lives of children living in difficult circumstances and I feel every time I do make a small contribution I get 10 fold in support back. I wasn’t expecting that. I knew I would work with good people and sweet kids however I look forward to the screams of kids “Ate Kate, Ate Kate!!!” the cuddles and the wonderful talks I have with staff at RSCC or friends and family in my community. I am truly a blessed volunteer.
Just this year I have had the pleasure of co-planning an HIV/AIDS project and then working with 6 intelligent DSWD staff to implement the project. We were able to educate 32 very bright girls in 4 DSWD centers about preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The workshop gave them the skills and chance to recognize how special they are and there is positive or negative consequences to each decision they make. We showed them how contracting a STD like HIV can drastically affect their lives and how to prevent it. The whole day was filled with fun and interactive activities at a beautiful and newly constructed center Amor Village in Tarlac. I believe most of these girls have been told some or all of the information we provided before however we were able to come at it with a different spin and I feel reinforcing information strengthens positive behavior change. It was nice for me to see some of the girls who also attended our Girls LEAD camp last year at this workshop.
Yesterday our new art teacher from Bataan Peninsula State University came and presented his first art class. I have been doing art classes since I arrived but Kuya Romeo is someone they can identify with. Not all the kids get to attend, we have 30 kids who want to participate and only 15 spaces. The kids at the center love to draw and want to paint so badly. I’m so excited that most of the projects we implement will be done with paints. The focus of the first class was to explain how art is a personal and creative process and they got to write their names on big pieces of paper and do designs around it. They had so much fun.
My host cousins in the compound spotted me before them this evening and I got blown over between them running for cuddles and the puppies and dogs also wanting love. This is a very affectionate culture which suits me just fine. I always know if I wake up on the wrong side of the bed I can hang out with the toddlers when I get to work and they will be full of smiles looking forward to playing with someone. Some people say they could not work at my center because of the infants and children who get brought here but I think by having the child here it is one less child left in the trash, behind a building or out in the elements dying. The social workers work so hard to find families for the children and we have great partners in the U.S helping us find families for the more difficult children to place, our schoolers. We have a large staff and the house parents love the children and parent them the best way they know how.
What does break my heart is when children are returned to us because the foster or adoptive family could not “handle” the child or it has become inconvenient to have them. Like if the family has got a visa to go abroad and don’t want to take the child. That sickens me. There is a problem in the system and families are not being adequately prepared and supported to foster or adopt these precious and extremely vulnerable children. Hopefully if my extension gets approved I will help Region III develop a stronger advocacy program, pre-placement training and continuing education program for foster and adoptive homes. They are already in this process and I am privileged to be included in this process as it is a very large step in the right direction to helping relieve the institutionalization of Filipino children. Right now I’m collecting information on various foster care training programs, parenting class curriculum, child development and other materials to start developing a culturally appropriately program for Region III. Children develop more appropriately in a family and home environment and an institution/orphanage needs to be a last resort situation.