Normal people would often take each day as an ordinary one. But for people with special needs, they value each day preciously. Their simple joys are not about receiving tangible gifts, what they only want is a gift of companionship. For people like us who are lucky to be capable of fully enjoying this life, may it be an initiative for us to once in a while, deviate love from ourselves so we can share it to others.
My friends from De La Salle, Polytechnic University of the Philippines and Far Eastern University. Our volunteer group.
Earlier this year, I joined a group of communication students to a giving-back outreach event at a home for special kids in Cavite, Philippines. When we arrived at the gate of the house, I was first reluctant to enter because I was afraid that I won’t be able to contain well my emotions for I too have a younger sibling who is a special child. It made me imagine my younger sibling on that situation.
Before we started the program, we were oriented by the head of the home not to attach ourselves too much on the kids there for it would be hard for them to bid goodbye to us. Kids there get easily emotionally attached to their visitors, making it hard for them to let go.
In my estimate, the participants who joined us that afternoon were about 20-30 people with ages 9-21 years old and with heterogeneous cases. Some are even taller than me, majority are male.
The kids during the art activity.
Like the usual, we facilitated games and some art activities. I was assigned to handle a group during the “Paint Me a Picture” game. Our head facilitator instructed the kids to paint or act a tableau of what they want to become in the future.
An artwork that one of the kids made.
I was not allowed to join them in the brain storming. I was only there to be their motivator. And so, I let them appoint a team leader, and direct their tableau. When the time came that my group was called to present, I was surprised and amazed with the picture that they painted.
They painted a scene inside the classroom – a classroom with a teacher with students who are reciting, reading and writing. When the team leader was asked to explain, she said that she wants to become a teacher so she can also teach special kids like her so they can survive on their own.
As I was listening to the team leader, I got a realization that even in a young age and in spite of their special needs, they were still able to see the necessity of education in one’s life especially on their fellow special kids. Through painting that picture, I got to know the desire behind the eyes of a child.
During our interaction with them, I saw hopes and joys in their smiles having us as visitors on that day. We were told by the home caretaker that some of them are seldom visited by the parents while some of them are not being visited anymore.
A shot from behind. Me in blue and Trina, the girl I am talking with.
That day, I had a new found friend named Trina. I can still remember how she had her self-proclaimed possession of me. She gets jealous whenever I talk to other kids. She would even pull me back and hug me just to secure that I’ll never find another buddy.
What really broke my heart was when she kept on uttering “Ate, babalik ka ha.” Addressing it to me with her innocent, lovely face. It made me teary-eyed to know that she was already compassionate with our friendship even though we have been together for only 3 hours. I answered her “Yes, babalik ako.”. Honestly, I am feeling guilty that until now, I haven’t delivered that promise to her yet due to my tight schedule and other commitments in school. But our volunteer group promised the kids that we’ll go back again once we have spare time so we can be with them in longer hours. I just hope that when that time comes, Trina will still remember me.
Honestly, I am a graduate of a Special Education (SPED) class when I was elementary. But ours is different, we’re under the Fast Learners (Accelerated Class) cluster of the SPED division of my school.
I studied at Padre Mariano Gomez Elementary School, Sta. Cruz, Manila. It is one of the pilot public schools in the Philippines, We are in a one compound with kids under the cases of ADHD, Autism, Blind, Mute and Deaf who are also students of that school.
Interacting with special kids that time wasn’t new to me. But now that I am in college, I appreciated more the ideals in life that they possess.
After that day, I realized that it’s better to relive the child in us. We easily appreciate things. We do things less complicated. That in the eyes of a child, we see the reality that we oftentimes ignore and there is innocence yet high hopes to partake responsibility in helping others.