By: Pia Jingco
A child named Dado captured my heart recently.
Last week I signed up for a volunteer opportunity that would involve tutoring kids, through the iVolunteerwebsite. I must admit I was a bit apprehensive on my way to the venue as I had not done this for quite a long time.
The ministry I selected, called He Cares Mission, runs a shelter in Quezon City and undertakes education, health, livelihood and spiritual initiatives among street children and their families. Upon arriving there I was greeted by a perky, smiling worker named Cathy, who handles (and by “handles,” as most fellow workers in nonprofit organizations would understand, I mean literally running the whole thing by herself) the “Back to School” program. I am yet to understand fully the mechanics and components of this program but among the efforts is providing tutorial support and motivation to out-of-school children in hopes of re-enrolling them as soon as possible.
And so I was introduced to Dado, my student for the day. Our assigned subject was Reading Comprehension. I introduced myself to him and shook his hands, and asked (as instructed by Cathy) if I could lead a prayer. He said yes. I asked then if we could hold hands, and he said, “Pasmado po ako!” (“I have sweaty hands!”) I said it was okay, I was used to sweaty hands because I had a sister who had those, and he finally consented with a shy smile.
I prayed for our session, sought guidance, and thanked God for being the source of all intelligence and abilities. I prayed that He would not only enable Dado to learn, but would also make Dado experience His love.
Within minutes of our session I understood two things:
- He was supposed to be a fourth grader but his English reading and vocabulary skills were way below that level. He struggled reading (pronouncing) and retaining the meaning of words like survive and weather.
- He was very motivated. He conscientiously underlined each word that he had difficulty reading. He also listed the words he did not understand (double-spaced on his notebook) and asked me for the Tagalog translation of each (and oh, I struggled with some, like “sheet” [of ice] and “field”). He wrote each translation down beside the English word, and would refer to it time and again. He also requested that we work on a second article because “Gusto ko pong maraming matutunan” (“I want to learn a lot”).
I also realized as we proceeded that he might be poor at reading and comprehending English, but he certainly was insightful. We were learning what “survive difficult conditions” meant — we were studying an article about polar bears in the Arctic — when he looked at me and said, “Parang ako po pala, mahirap yung buhay na pinanggalingan…Pero si Hesus dumating tapos pinili nya na magdaan din sa mahirap para maligtas ako.” (“So it’s just like me, I have had a hard life… But Jesus came and chose to go through hardship, too, to save me.”) I just about melted then.
In the middle of the session he suddenly blurted out, “Sana po kayo lagi ang tutor ko” (“I wish you will always be my tutor.”) and I thought to myself and to God that I really would need His help to keep committed to this.
When we concluded our session I requested that he be the one to lead our closing prayer, and he obliged and took my hands. He thanked God for the session and prayed to be able to learn many more things. Afterward, he reminded me to be back. I said I would.
By God’s grace, I will keep my promise.
Interested to volunteer? Visit iVolunteer.com.ph to browse opportunities, including options to help with the He Cares Mission