Written By Neyzielle Ronnicque Cadiz, Writer, Operation Blessing Philippines
“Most of the pupils here only attend classes twice or thrice a week. I saw that the biggest problem was that they do not have the energy to even come back after lunch break because they are left with nothing to eat in their homes,” Jovanie Cecilio, multi-grade teacher of Combis Elementary School in Abuyog, Leyte sadly stated.
“More than half of our pupils’ population eat purple yam for breakfast, lunch, and even dinner without choice. When you [Operation Blessing] chose our school to become a recipient of your feeding program, there was a change – positive change that the pupils are more eager to come, they are always jolly and attentive, they spend their lunch break reading books, and our records show less absences since the program started,” he added.
He gladly assisted the members of the OB team and he excitedly announced that they are preparing the meals for a feeding program that day. As if on cue to answer the question about who helps in the preparation of the meals, Josefina Baulo, 49 – whose three children and a grandchild are beneficiaries of the program – greeted the team with a wide sincere smile, immediately saying, “Thank you for coming and helping us.”
That was how she recalls their story. With faded white polo shirts, obviously patched clothes holes, oversized t-shirts, and old school shoes, one can tell how hard life is for the Baulo family.
Josefina’s children Dexter (13, grade 6), Dyna (11, grade 6), Danny (10, grade 4) and grandchild Kyle Ashley (7, grade 2) wake up at four every morning to prepare for school. At 5:30 they walk for 10 minutes to the river that separates their place and the barangay proper, and swim for 10-15 minutes using a banana trunk as floater and lifesaver just to reach the other side. Their time left to walk to the school is just enough that they can still change their wet clothes to school uniforms wrapped in plastic bags just in time.
“I give them purple yam or sometimes banana for their lunch because I can’t let them swim in the river and risk their lives during lunch break. I can only afford to serve them the same,” Josefina wearily said.
When asked why she volunteers in cooking, Josefina proudly said, “This is the only way I can give back to [you]for feeding my children because I can’t provide meals like these even on holidays. Everyday seems like there’s a fiesta because the set of food provided really excites the children and pushes them to persevere more in doing well in their classes.”
As the children finished eating their lunch that day, they showed signs of joy and happiness. They even giddily played with the members of the team and one by one expressed their gratefulness for the project. Indeed, Operation Blessing not only feeds the underserved ones, because OB also feeds the children’s perseverance and helps them strive harder in reaching their educational goals.
85 underserved children from Combis ES benefit from the feeding program effort of Operation Blessing for the children of Samar and Leyte. We are still feeding more; help our cause for the benefit of the children of the community.
Call us at 477-7802 to 04 or visit www.obphil.com for more details.