I am always an understanding daughter to my parents and diligent student in school. I know I have not been a headache to my folks especially when it comes to materials things. At age 14, of course I also want to have the latest fashion trends or have the best device there is to feel kind of “cool” to everybody. But don’t get me wrong, that is only a wish since my family can’t really afford buying such expensive stuff for me. Yet, there are times that I can’t help but envy other rich kids, thinking why I had not been them and why I only get to enjoy simple things in life.
Last July 26, 2014, was a day I will never forget; the day that changed my views of desiring material things. This was when I first volunteered for Project Pearls’ event in “Helping Land” in Tondo, Manila. First time volunteers in that place were greeted with a path of thick mud all the way through the venue. It was not the exact sight I thought it would be. It was worst! I was shocked to see how bad it was in that place, yet as determined as I was in helping, I knew I could do it!
We reached the exact place seeing several children already sitting on long chairs. They looked so happy and excited to see us with food and other stuff to give. I was so sad though when I saw most kids without slippers and with feet all so muddy and really dirty. Their shirts & faces too were also dirty. Being there, I personally witnessed most kids wading in the pool of mud in that area. There was only a handful lucky enough to wear rain boots to protect themselves from mud dirt. My heart just melted. I suddenly felt guilty. I thought of the times that I really wanted to have more of the material things that I already have, sometimes even wanting to have those things that I don’t really need, then, here in front of me, are these children who look so happy but are actually suffering because they do not even have their basic needs.
The flow of the organization’s program that day was very appealing to the kids. They were all gamely interacting with the volunteer host that morning. They made rainbows out of paper plates too. This time, my heavy heart lightened when the kids were already coloring and decorating their paper plates. This little girl I assisted, named Nelsa, was not really talking, she just followed whatever instructions I gave her in her activity. I have observed that whenever I praised her in her work, I could see that bright shine in her eyes. I felt that she wanted to be praised. Every time I did that, she even tried making her art more beautiful. I knew she already felt comfortable with me. She then started talking a bit and also smiled more. When she showed me her finished rainbow art, I told her it was very beautiful and she had given me back a shy yet very warm smile. I also told Nelsa, “wag kang mag-alala, yang Rainbow na yan ang magiging pag-asa natin sa buhay. Dapat lagi ka pa ring maging masaya ha. Magiging maayos din ang lahat.” After that, Sidney, Project Pearls’ official photographer took a photo of the two of us together. After Nelsa ate the food distributed to them and before she went home, she gave me her most beautiful smile. That smile I know I will always remember for the rest of my life.
I am contributing this article because I want to give awareness to other teenagers like me that there is more to life than those material things we love to have which we don’t actually need. There are so many children who have nothing and these include the children in Helping Land, Tondo. I personally witnessed the poverty and longing of these children to be protected from further misery. They are all suffering too for poor health and sanitation. The place I’ve been is one location no regular kids would want to live nor enter. It was indeed a depressed area where loads of garbage are just everywhere. The whole place really stinks and all people, including kids, are all wading in mud everyday of their lives there. It was in that place too that I saw the value of rain boots and how helpful these boots would be for the people there especially the children in that area. It was also in this volunteer day that I saw the happiness of a child in making that rainbow art and the joy it gave her of being appreciated.
So the next time I might complain that I don’t have the latest phone nor get to wear the most fashionable clothes, I will just think of Nelsa, of the rain boot that she did not have to protect her from flood dirt, and the beautiful rainbow that she created which made her felt so appreciated. I know those thoughts will make me smile and happy and most of all feel thankful and contented of what I have.