One of the things I really love about the AdPlotter/Abre International office in the Philippines is that we executives of the company understand how important it is to be a cornerstone in our community. In addition to creating jobs where American companies don’t venture (outside of McDonalds, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Pizza Hut), we have the opportunity and resources to do a lot of good.
When it comes to helping our community, children are near and dear to my heart. In April, we were given an opportunity to visit a shelter for street children, and nothing in my 50-plus years prepared me for what I saw.
We pulled up to this huge building that looked as if they had started building it and then gave up and walked away before it was done. It had concrete, but no glass or screens in the windows, and electricity in only a couple of rooms. They were using one floor as a place for street children to live. There was a big room with a few plastic chairs and industrial tables. Part of the room was made into a dorm for the girls and there was as separate space for the boys. The girls had beds for the most part, but the boys had only mats on the floor for their sleeping accommodations.
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Being the only American these kids had probably ever met, and standing almost 5’10”, they were very shy at first to approach me. They wanted to see if my long black hair was real and said in Cebuano that I looked like the mannequins they see in the store windows. I found their perception of me charming and was enamored with their smiles and high spirits. They loved that the team came to visit and that we cared enough to give them attention.
These are forgotten children. I don’t know how else to say it! Their parents are probably living on the streets – homeless, on drugs or booze, or just not able to care for them. We held a baby who was rescued from a trash can and met a little girl with polio whose mother left her with a note at a bus station. Some had no shoes; some had dirty clothes. Some little girls had shaved heads because of sores and bugs. Most of the children had rotting teeth. I could go on and on. The conditions shocked me for a government funded shelter.
We discovered that someone – possibly one of the teenagers – was stealing food from the shelter and they didn’t have any milk for the babies and not nearly enough food to feed the others. We brought in a ton of canned goods, various food items, and powdered milk – enough to hold them over for a few months. Those kids’ faces lit up like it was Christmas.
We also made over 100 bags filled with candy, cookies, and juice boxes – you know, all the junk that kids love. We put them in clear cellophane and tied them up with beautiful ribbons. I wish a picture could really capture the joy on their faces, but it simply doesn’t do it justice.
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As a company, we at AdPlotter/Abre are so blessed to have the resources to help these children, and we want to go back on a regular basis. We have notified the proper authorities that the conditions for these children are less than acceptable, and we have offered to be a part of the solution.
So now it’s August and we have asked for permission to visit the children’s shelter again. We were informed that the powers that be paid attention to the deplorable conditions of the shelter, and the children have now been moved to a much better facility with real windows and bathrooms. We are so excited for them and plan to visit the new site in a few weeks. We can’t wait to see the kids again!
Don’t ever think that “just” a couple of voices can’t make a big difference, even if it is for just one child to have a chance at a better life.