Friday, July 13, 2007

Beyond the Cake and Candles...

From Arlene DeVera, our Communications Coordinator in Manila, Philippines

Ten-year-old Nelnel belongs to a big family. He has six siblings and is the third among them. His father earns a living by driving a pedicab. It’s a bicycle with a covered cart which is the common mode of transportation in poor urban areas, where streets are narrow and can ideally only accommodate three passengers. His dad is the family’s sole provider who earns about US$4 per day. There are days though that he goes home with no money because his pedicab needs repair or authorities do not allow them to use certain routes.

Nelnel’s mother shared that she has never bought her son new clothes. They rely on relatives’ generosity for her children’s clothes. Her greatest challenge, aside from looking after seven children all by herself, is how to stretch the family’s budget to allow them three meals a day. Both Nelnel and his mother were deeply touched by the generous donations that allowed him to receive a birthday gift through Children International.

Nelnel said, “It’s hard to describe the feelings. I did not know how it is receiving a birthday gift. Money always determines whether I get to celebrate my birthday extra-ordinarily or just one of those days. If we have money, my mom cooks pansit but if we don’t have, my mom and dad just say happy birthday! (Pansit is a noodle dish sautéed with carrots, cabbage and soy sauce traditionally prepared during birthdays to signify long and healthy life.)

It’s great to receive new clothes for my birthday! It makes me feel good and special. Now I knew the feeling of wearing a new pair of pants and shirt which I myself picked and really like. It makes you feel like a movie star. I could now confidently attend events in school in my best attire. Before, it felt embarrassing to attend important school activities in my uniform. Some children in school looked at me and made me feel odd as they wondered why I was in uniform.”

Cyril, Nelnel’s mother said, “I am so grateful to my child’s sponsor for helping us out. My child gets to experience the joy of shopping for new clothes. He fills in the gaps that I’d love to do but could not afford to provide. Seeing Nelnel as he excitedly went from one clothes rack to another was a joy in itself! I am sorry that I can not provide for him this kind of experience but I’m glad that his sponsor generously gives. When Nelnel grows up, it would be nice that there are moments like this which could make him smile while looking back.”

Thanks to our generous sponsors who give children like Nelnel a chance to experience the joy of a receiving a birthday gift...sometimes the only birthday gift they will receive.

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