This is how I saw the angels at a charcoal factory in Manila. Young yet they wake up every day to work and help their families.
Their innocent minds are fueled by the idea that they need to work and help their family. They don’t have time to hold expensive gadgets and play games. Neither get books and read. As I was walking at the location, I have observed that the children and their families are very friendly; they welcome us with a smile on their faces as they wave their hands for a Hello. As I had a short conversation with some teenage workers at the site, they would still prefer the hard way of earning money instead of having it quick in a socially unacceptable way.
I met a girl named Angelica, probably she is between 7-10 years old. I noticed that she got back to me thrice to get a pack of food. As volunteers, we were advised to follow the 1:1 ratio. So I asked her why she is asking for more. Then she answered “Hindi ko pa po nakakain yung akin. Kay Papa yun, bubugbugin niya kasi ako pag wala siyang nakain.” I was startled and I stopped walking for a while. I followed her and I’m thinking that I just heard the wrong word from her. The word “bubugbugin” Si I asked her a rephrased follow up question. “Bakit ka naman inaaway ng Papa mo?” I replaced the word “binibugbog” with “inaaway” still thinking that she just used the wrong descriptor. Then she responded, “Pag wala po siyang makain, nagagalit siya. Buti kung nangaaway lang. Eh, binubugbog ako.” Having heard the consistency of Angelica’s answers, I concluded that maybe it is true that her father beats her whenever he has nothing to eat.
It saddened me that angels like Angelica don’t experience what we believe angels in heaven do. Angels who are cutely giggling while playing, angels who are enjoying the beauty of their childhood and angels who are being taken care of. Angelica is an example that the traditional childhood experience of a kid in the middle class is non-existence in their world.
It was actually my first time to join a community immersion. I chose to go at the charcoal factory than to stay at the daycare center because I want to get to know the lives and situations of people living there. As I pass by along one street, I heard a little girl told my fellow volunteer, “Para po yun kay Mama.”Maybe my fellow volunteer also asked the child because she is also insisting to get another pack of breakfast. As I was walking, I heard a kid who randomly asks herself “Kumain na kaya sila Mama” before she approaches me and get a food. Maybe she is thinking of also giving it to her mom rather than eating it.
That day I got the realization that as a person who belongs to the middle class family, I am guilty of depriving time for my family. I sometimes forget the value of family time. I forget to ask my siblings and the people at home whether they’ve eaten already or not. Studying in a University and doing tons of school works, requirements and the demands of extra-curricular activities makes me focus my time on myself. It makes me have my own world at home.
One lesson that I brought home after that event is the value of care for your family. No matter how hard life is or how busy we are. We should not forget to take a minute to remember our parents, hug them and tell them how much we love them. Valuing one’s family doesn’t choose a status in life. What we only have to remember is that we are blessed and we should always see and appreciate the beauty of those blessings.
Volunteer. Make a child smile.