Wednesday, January 23, 2008

An Unforgettable Experience

A sponsor of seven children, Steve Krumholz recently traveled to the Philippines as a volunteer on a surgical mission trip with the Society of Philippine Surgeons in America. While in the Philippines, he had the opportunity to visit not only his sponsored children, but also the children that he has helped as a supporter of Children International since 2006.

Part One of Three

I first came to sponsor Cindy Maninang, a tiny 9-year-old girl, after reading a few months ago about the plight of her family on the blog post titled “The Face Behind the Fence.” I provided food assistance to the family to help them get beyond the lean period they were still experiencing many months after Typhoon Durian.

Cindy and I met when Dr. Zaldy Abainza, CI’s Legazpi City Agency Director, brought her and her family to the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital, site of the surgical mission where I was working. Cindy, standing shyly next to her parents, Salvador and Digna, and sisters Sandra and Sarah, took my right hand and pressed it to her forehead as a sign of respect for an elder. That simple gesture helped me see the gratefulness within her eyes for what sponsorship means to a child.

Sponsoring Cindy meant that she could begin school – first grade – as it provided her with a uniform and book bag. The field office staff happily reported that Cindy was excelling in her studies.

I had brought a few simple gifts for Cindy and 12-year-old Sandra, who is a head taller but not much heavier. After I gave the two older girls t-shirts and colored pencils, Dr. Abainza pulled me aside to review some of the plans for the afternoon’s visit. In just those few minutes, Cindy and Sandra found some paper and, using the colored pencils, drew a colorful flower for me to take home.

After leaving the hospital, we traveled to the Community Center to meet the CI staff, who greeted us warmly. Then we took Cindy and her family to downtown Legazpi City, where I had prearranged a holiday shopping trip for the family.

As an American, it is pretty commonplace for us to visit malls, supermarkets and restaurants on a regular basis. Cindy and her family had never visited any of these establishments, so they had the overwhelming experience of visiting all three for the first time.

To see the look of wonderment in their faces at the size and variety of stores made a great impression on me. While shopping in the supermarket for food, I had to reassure the little girls that it was OK to take cookies or candy for their shopping cart. Meanwhile, their parents worked with CI staff to obtain staples such as rice, cooking oil and vegetables.

At the restaurant, the CI social worker took the responsibility of ordering for the family as none had ever been to such a place before and the number of choices, like in the grocery store, was new, different and overwhelming. After leaving the mall, we took the family home to a resettlement village being built by several organizations at the far reaches of the Legazpi City service area.

Although darkness had fallen and there was little light available, a simple kerosene lamp illuminated the new home that Salvador is building for his family. In a space about 10’ x 10’ the family of 9 is building a home and, with sponsorship, hope…for a future that will hopefully see Cindy and her sisters bloom like the flower drawing they had presented to me several hours earlier.

Make sure to visit the blog tomorrow to share Steve’s experience in Manila.

1 comment:

dana said...

This story brings tears to my eyes. It is so nice to hear stories like this. I pray that someday i can visit my six sponsored kids and treat them to a day like this that they would never forget, and that i would never forget.. and at the same time providing hope to them.