We have just finished the summer season while most of you are just about to enjoy summer vacation. Here we are again with some news about the months of December to June. We would like to thank you all for taking time to read our updates, for writing us and your children, and sending extra donations for the benefit of our children, the center, and our projects.
As Pag-asa Center moves on, it is always filled with novelty projects for the benefit of the children and their families. Almost every month there are things happening that we are proud to tell you about right away and we feel like we can-not wait for another six months just to let you know of our activities here. That’s why we created a social networking account (facebook) only for you. There you can find us in galleries of photos and short write-ups. Several of you have already added us as friends and commented or “liked” us. Once again we invite all of you to check Pag-asa’s Facebook Page. If you wish to see recent photos of your supported children just tell us and we will be more than willing to grant your requests. Some of the news you will read now have been posted already to our facebook account.
Our months-long preparation for our Christmas party last December became: “The best Christmas Party ever of Pag-asa”! This was the remark of most people who approached and congratulated us during and right after the event. Some guests, due to conflicting commitments, told us beforehand that they would have to leave early. However, they couldn’t separate themselves from their seats because they were so glued to the presentations on stage. Barely a month after that we recalled our beginnings: after the Thanksgiving mass where Frank Schmelzer, the head of Pag-asa shared: “Pag-asa has no exact date of birth. We had no plan for starting something like this. We only came up with the anniversary January „09, because the death of Silvio (the son of Natalina Pellizzari, a foster parent who helped to start Pag-asa) is very relevant to the beginnings of Pag-asa, which, in 1997, did not even have a name yet.”
When Silvio died, Natalina was told: “Look, you lost one child, and only a mother can understand what it means, but you could have more than a hundred children back.” … and that‟s how something big like Pag-asa came to life.
Pag-asa is now 14 years old and in those years we have been acquainted with the way family members seek help. The help we extend is only for the studies, feeding and health programs of a child but usually here in Pag-asa when you officially support a child, the families assume that the support is meant for the whole family.
To make the familes realize that we can be partners in helping them and their neighbours we called for a meeting with the barangay officials on January 25 to discuss:
- Poverty alleviation – through income generation and livelihood projects.
- Food security – by promoting production and proper utilization of foods.
After that initiative on our part, providence started pouring in: We received boxes of medicines from different donors. We had more than enough of them at that moment and to keep the providence circulating we distributed some boxes to the barangay health centers. A philanthropist from Manila who wished to remain anonymous donated a big amount for our livelihood programs and a member who acquired a special skill shared it with our mothers who were unemployed at that moment.
Speaking about unemployment, the number of unemployed persons in the Philippines is growing ever more, mainly among the youth. In addition, every year there is an estimated half million graduates who are out looking for a job. Pity to those who have not even finished a vocational course. Even worse, more and more are being displaced by companies everyday here and abroad.
Of course even Pag-asa is faced with this kind of problem among its members and they are left with no choice but to find other means to earn a living. With the hope of alleviating the growing unemployment rate, hand in hand we started a new livelihood training program in February with the help of Laura Novela, one of the mother beneficiaries of Pag-asa who first undertook training (outside Pag-asa) in massage therapy and later shared with Pag-asa what she learned. The first batch was made up of 14 mothers and even before they finished the course, clients had already started look-ing for them thus providing them a newly found source of income which they will be forever grateful for.
Dear friends, you might know that many members of Pag-asa are also tenant farmers or farm caretakers and they are participating in cattle fattening schemes. They raise cows, and then they sell them at the market. This is a very important source of revenue for them. Most of them however don’t own the cows they are fattening because they cannot afford to.
With the help of a generous contributor, the Cattle Fattening Livelihood was realized in Pag-asa. We had 5 fathers who acquired this livelihood program and their hearts are overflowing with gratitude for this opportunity. Theirs (and also our) hope is, that one day with the income they will get from the sales they will be able to buy their own cattle to fatten!
Interested parents also took advantage of our newly launched livelihood projects on swine fattening and chicken poultry raising.
Even our FAVOLA shirt Livelihood Program is going ahead. Beside our already well known tourist T-shirts which we are selling throughout the country, now there are more and more requests for “made-to-order” printed T-shirts, not only by groups, friends, organizations, parishes and beach resorts within the Philippines, but also by friends, sponsors and organizations in Europe, who in this way want to help our Project and in return get quality at a reasonable price . If you or your friends are interested, just contact us through our website.
In March, after one year having enrolled their child in our pre-school, with many seminars for parents, our grateful parents wrote a collective letter of thanks to Pag-asa Social Center during the Family Day celebration. Here are some excerpts from their letter:
“Thank you… for teaching us to listen to the will of God and to be contented about the things we have. Slowly we are changing to become better parents. We have become closer and more loving towards our families, our spouses, and our children. …for showing us that nothing is impossible if God is with us. You have strengthened our communication with God. …and for helping us realize the importance of communicating with our children. You’ve taught our children not only academically but also, imparted to them with good values in life.
We were really touched by those words and to add to our joy, we were awarded by the Department of Education a certificate of recognition and appreciation for our valuable and continuous support extended to indigent school children.
Dear friends, because of your generous support, we are very proud to tell you that 5 of our university scholars have graduated this year: two of them are now teachers while the other 3 finished computer courses. Our happiness was really overflowing specially when two of our graduates passed the board: one in nursing and another in teaching.
And then came April, a break from school..
Just because the school year has ended in April does not mean that the educational opportunities for our children are over as well. Since learning can take place throughout the year, even outside the classroom, we organized their vacations to include both fun and educational activities, helping them to learn with-out it feeling like a chore.
One of these activities is the basketball game… Team “Pag-asa”, our basketball team, is still at the beginning – but more than learning the fundamentals of the game, the team learned that playing basketball is not playing against opponents… They make friends with the opponents instead, remembering in every game the Cube of Love. After having played with our friends in Saint Gregory Academy in Indang, Cavite, they all came back home happy. They did not only win the game, but they also won friends. While they all wore smiles on their faces, their shoe soles were also smiling as they were slowly being torn apart from their toe-caps.
Team Pag-asa is an indigent team and buying a pair of even rubber shoes, in a flea market is difficult for them. Finding a used big box, one of us then turned it into a “Shoe donation box”. As it was displayed in the lobby of our Center, family members started to drop their extra and slightly used rubber shoes. Now only their faces are smiling because their shoes are better.
SUMMER OUTING 2011
School vacation will not be complete without the most awaited treat for our children, the summer outings! They say that children are like cement. Whatever falls on them while the cement is fresh makes an impression. To make less privileged children happy, by bringing them on an outing during this season
(April and May) they deserve to enjoy too, is a way of showing them that there is hope, no matter how cruel life seems to them. Giving them hope encourages optimism in them, providing them a better chance to live happy and productive lives. If we do not show them kindness, they will take the path of hopelessness. Under the blazing heat of the sun, the children took time to go swimming. Everyone ate, sang, and played the day away. Then we wrapped the day up with multiple pictorial shots.
Dear friends, all this news was made possible because of your continuous support for us. Come rain or shine, you remain with us. Endless thanks to you!!! We know that some of you are sacrificing your vacation to help your needy children but may we still wish you a wonderful summer vacation! See you next updating!
Frank, Arlyn and the staff of Pag-asa Social Center Foundation Inc.