It all started with an email I received on July 17 from an employee of Bayantel, a telecommunications company in Manila.
“Dear Miss N,” goes the email, “I am looking for a charity work for my boss’s birthday….May I know how we could help?” It was such a very generous offer, I couldn’t keep my heart from jumping with excitement.
After a few exchanges of emails, everything was settled. Their group would sponsor goodies to be distributed to all school children of a barangay school in the town of Pambujan Northern Samar. They arrived in 8 big boxes. Each box contained eco-bags for each of the children. Each eco-bag contained things like a school bag, a pair of slippers, towels, toothbrush, toothpaste, notebooks, crayons, ball pens, and pencils.
TRANSPORTING THE GOODIES
The goodies were loaded unto a truck at the Pambujan town proper. There were 8 boxes and youth volunteers from Kabataan Para sa Kauswagan took charge of loading them. They also took care of all the leg works prior to the distribution (Thank you so much, guys!).
At one point during the trip to Canjumadal, the boxes had to be downloaded from the truck because it couldn’t cross this bridge which seemed to be hanging on to dear life.
From this point, the boxes had to be transported by habal-habals until they reach the recipient school.
Traveling from Pambujan town proper to Barangay Canjumadal isn’t an easy one, especially when it’s rainy season. The road can get too muddy. We went there on a sunny day but the wheels of the habal-habal we were riding on sank in the mud twice so we decided to just walk our way to the school.
THE RECIPIENT SCHOOL
This is Canjumadal Elementary School. It has a population of 182, from 1st to 6th grade. It has 4 teachers serving multigrade classes, meaning two grade levels are combined. There are only 4 classrooms serving the entire population of students. The classrooms are all humble ones. While three of the classrooms are made of concrete materials, the fourth one piqued my interest. Take a look at it.
It is actually a room with thatched nipa for its roof and lower part of its walls. The floor isn’t even made of concrete. It’s just hard soil.Except for the wooden grill, the room has no other enclosure. So the children are exposed to either heat or cold.
Going around the school, I have noticed only about 4 or 5 children wearing shoes, the rest were either wearing a pair of slippers or are barefoot. Some of the children have to walk for kilometers from their home to attend classes. The problem is that there are prevalent cases of schistosomiasis or snail fever in the area. Schistosomiasis is a chronic disease that can damage internal organs and affect the growth and cognitive development of affected children who may have acquired it from swimming or playing in infected waters.
Sept. 13, 2013. It was about noontime when we reached the school. We were greeted with eager, curious, young, and innocent faces. We started right away with the distribution.
Preschool and Grade 1 (63 children)
The children were surprised to see that their eco-bag has their name on it! Donors from Bayantel actually took time out to put names on each of the bags. Ain’t it cool to receive a personalized gift? 😉
It was disheartening to see this young boy go to school barefoot. He was very happy to see a pair of slippers inside his eco-bag!
Here are some more happy faces.
Grades 2 and 3 (60 children)
Grade 4 (19 children)
Grades 5 and 6 (41 children)
BIG HEARTS BEHIND THE DISTRIBUTION
My heartfelt gratitude goes to the following:
• Ms. Julie Epia, whom I have constantly communicated with throughout the preparation process. Thank you for your patience, Ms. Julie.
• the birthday celebrator who spearheaded the collection of the goodies, Ms. Thelma de Leon, Vice President, Customer Care Service, Bayan Telecommunications, Inc. Maraming, maraming, maraming salamat po! Happy birthday, Ma’am! Indeed, there should be no stopping at 50! 😉
• the employees of Bayan Telecommunications, Inc who shared their blessings to the children of Canjumadal. A hundred and eighty two bags of goodies! You, guys, are awesome!
• the members of Kabataan Para sa Kauswagan. Thank you for showing me yet again the energy, enthusiasm, and dynamism of the Nortehanon youth, and the spirit of volunteerism.
• Ginoong J. Kulisap, alam mo na po kung bakit 😉 Thank you for believing in the small ripples that Pens of Hope is making.
Each and every distribution Pens of Hope make is a different experience. But they’re all heartwarming and inspiring. It’s a priceless thing to see children happy to receive the things we sometimes take for granted: a pair of slippers, a pencil, a pen, a notebook, a piece of paper, a toothbrush, a towel. They’re worth a treasure to them.
Thank you so very much, everyone! Thank you for trusting Pens of Hope. Thank you for standing up for our children and for showing them that they are not forgotten. Until next distribution 🙂