Stories of Transformation

wpccd12e89_05_06Ronnie* (11): “My father left us for a job in Hong Kong when I was seven years old but he did not return home since. I just heard that he is in B. with my grandparents. My siblings who lived with me in a small shanty room under the Q. Bridge did not continue their studies. I was so excited attending my classes in Grade 1, until I heard my teacher talking to my mother and saying: ‘If I were you, I would not allow Ronnie to attend my classes because he will not pass Grade 1, anyway. He is stupid and he does not even know how to read or write.’ I was so discouraged and didn’t go back to class. I would just hang out on the street, playing. Until one day, my friends Pepe* and CJ* invited me to join the Drop-in Center. I still didn’t feel like studying, but because of the support and concern of Teacher A. and the leaders in the Drop-in Center, I was able to learn to read and write and to finish the Development Center. I was really encouraged by the works and life of Dr. Jose Rizal during our group sessions. Now, I’m inspired to continue my studies in spite of the many difficult circumstances in my life. I don’t want to retreat even if I lack school needs. My mother has another partner and often she leaves us without food. I fear that my mother may abandon us and I wish she would stay home, but she never does. She chose her new partner. I promised myself that I would study well and I am hoping to be included in the Child Sponsorship Program. When I finish my studies I want to become police officer, doctor or soldier. I want to help my siblings out of poverty.”

wp2e364348_05_06Ryan* (17) was eleven years old when we first met him. He was still in grade 1. He lived in the streets with his father who was drunk almost every night. He took the responsibility of earning money through selling stuff on the streets to provide for him and his father. His parents were separated. His mother was staying in a small shanty under the Quezon Bridge but he seldom visited her. He did not have a close relationship with his mother after the separation of his parents.

“I lived on the sidewalk with my father. My parents were separated. My father didn’t have a job, and I sold necklaces on the street, in order for us to have something to eat. I’d been dropping out of school and was still in Grade 1. Then I met Kuya Ferdie, a worker of Onesimo Bulilit. This is now more than five years ago.”

Ryan was the first child Onesimo Bulilit tried to support for schooling while he was still living on the street. This went well for almost a year but the pressure on Ryan was great. Besides having to attend his classes, he had to do his assignments on the sidewalk, and at the same time earn a living. Ryan struggled to keep up with his schooling and we were only around a few nights every week to assist or tutor him. He had very little support from his parents. He started to miss school, and almost dropped out again.

I was later accepted in the residential center, and lived there for five years. I was able to go to school regularly and many things in my life changed. I stopped cursing and did not hang around the streets the whole day anymore. I used to be very thin but I gained weight in the center. I helped in looking after the younger kids, and the workers trusted me.”

Ryan’s attitude towards schooling has changed a lot. The extra efforts and patience with him during tutorials were not wasted because he has been eager and determined to learn. After five years in the shelter, he was reintegrated with his uncle. He is now in first year high school and receiving educational assistance. His leadership potential was evident during the adventure camp held last summer; and he received a special leadership award. It is our great joy to see him as one of the junior leaders.

wp405852c8_05_06“I am Danilo* and am now 21 years old. In 2006 I was one of the blessed who got into Onesimo Bulilit Scholarship through their outreach program. And because of the persistence of the staff I was encouraged to pursue my education. Onesimo Bulilit was able to provide my school needs and even helped me with my school assignments and projects. I also grew spiritually.

As time went by, I was given a chance to join the outreach program. I became one of the facilitators and taught kids like me. Because of that my knowledge about children’s rights and the word of God increased.

As a typical growing teenager there was a time when I felt bored in schooling and spent more time with my peers. I also got into a non-serious romantic relationship. I moved into the wrong direction and began to live an un-disciplined life. Often I went home drunk. One time I told my mother that I will stop schooling, and I eventually dropped from the scholarship program of Onesimo Bulilit.  But I realized that actually I still wanted to study, and I wanted to change the wrongs that I had done.

I continued to study, and after a year of proving myself, I was re-accepted into the program.  I continued until college, I worked hard and kept on. With the assistance of Onesimo Bulilit and the help of God I finished a two year course as Informatics Technician. I achieved one of my dreams not only for me alone but also for my family.

I am very grateful for all the provisions, love, and guidance I have received from Onesimo Bulilit. I now want to be part of the program to share my experiences with other children, where I started and how I came to fulfil my dreams.”

wp6c064337_05_06“I am Rommel*. I am a street child but I am not just a street child, because I am one of the ‘solvent boys’. Aside from sniffing solvent I also used to steal and did various illegal activities on the street.

But all of that has changed. It began when I saw my friends with a person I did not know. They called me and I came along with them especially when I saw food. The staff of Onesimo Bulilit came to visit us on the street through the outreach program. They taught us to dream and they have also shared with us our rights and duties as a child.

A year passed and I opted to study in the ALS Program (Alternative Learning System), but unlucky I did not pass the examination. But I am blessed because I met all the workers at Onesimo Bulilit. Then I was bitten by a dog and afterwards I changed and I was saying and doing strange things. But after two months of not being myself, I was brought back to sanity, also because of their love. Then, in the middle of the year I began going to the Drop-in center, and I learned so much from them. Another year again has passed and I have grown much because of their caring. Thank you to Onesimo Bulilit. And thanks be to God because he gave you to me.”

“I am Riza*, 40 years old, and the wife of Mario*. We are the parents of Rommel* (story above) and Janelle*. We are from Quiapo Plaza and we have been living on the street for many years.

Our children got to know Onesimo Bulilit through the outreach program. Since then, they had been given a chance to go to school and to dream again. One time, we were invited for a gathering of Onesimo Bulilit and met the leaders. I came to realize that even there is Onesimo Bulilit, we still have to guide our children. So we pursued to rent a house for our family because we don’t like to lose the hope Onesimo Bulilit has given us. With the help of Onesimo Bulilit, until now our children are still studying. We hope that their program will continue. We are very much thankful for Onesimo Bulilit.”

wp139e1ebe_05_06“I am Jessica* (13) and live in Quiapo. I didn’t go to school. My parents didn’t have jobs so I helped to supplement the income through begging in the square in Quiapo. I would also run drugs in order to be able to buy medications for my sick mother. When we got to know Onesimo Bulilit, my mother brought me to the Residential Center. I learned many things in the there, but it was always difficult to forget my family on the streets. But I knew my life will change for the better if I continue to stay. After many days I heard the news that my beloved mother died. We went to the wake. It was difficult to loose my mother, but there were many people encouraging and loving me. Thank you all.”

Jessica has been in the shelter for almost five years now. She belonged to a street family in Quiapo. Her parents were separated; she and her other siblings remained under the care of their mother. However, their mother was sick and didn’t have a job to support their daily needs. Their father was living along a nearby street and sometimes the children went to him to ask for money or food. That was the only connection between Jessica and her father. Four  months after Jessica was admitted to the Residential Shelter, her mother died of liver disease, followed by the death of her youngest brother because he was hit by a jeepney.

The child had been through difficult and painful experiences – especially losing her mother and brother. However, she was able to overcome those and continue to live as a happy child. She also connected with her father through her own effort and  persistence to create a bridge between her and her father. Jessica has persistently been inviting her father to attend activities involving parents, which her father finally did. Her father also began to show effort in caring for her. Using his pedicab, he often brings the child to school together with other children in the shelter. He is still living along the street with his sidecar as his sleeping area and source of income. Jessica’s behaviors during her stay in the shelter have been improving. Her relationship with God has grown. She is prayerful and has the initiative to read and share bible stories during devotions. She is now in grade six. She has also been included in the leadership training where leadership potential was observed in her.

wpbd683499_05_06After almost 3 years under the residential care program, we finally integrated the two siblings Christine* (12) and Joan* (9) with their paternal grandmother and relatives in Gamay, Northern Samar. The siblings belonged to a dysfunctional family from under the Quiapo Bridge. During their admission, their mother was in jail because of illegal drugs. Their father was neglecting them and he had a live-in partner who physically and emotionally abused the children. Their mother was released from jail but after a few visits to the children in the Shelter, she disappeared. The children were looking forward to meeting and staying with their grandmother and relatives – even without their parents. After preparing the children, we finally headed to the province. It was like an endless journey – by bus, ship, boats and jeep – but we arrived well. We were accompanied by the assistant of the local municipal social worker. The arrival of the children was expected by their grandmother and relatives. The children were not shy or hesitant when they met their relatives and were able to relate immediately. The living condition of their relatives is simple. They live in nipa huts, but they are able to provide for their daily basic needs from fishing, farming and collecting and selling shells. It was difficult for us to bid goodbye. There were mixed emotions of thankfulness, hopefulness, sadness and worry. Nevertheless, we are comforted knowing that God’s hands will always be with them as they adjust to their new environment. As for now, we communicate with them through mobile phone and the municipal social worker agreed to send us monthly progress reports about the children. They are continuing their studies in a school situated in the community.

Farewell Letter of Christine:
“Dear leaders and children! Thank you for your patience with me and my sister and that we were able to go to school, and now can go home to our province safely. Thank you very much also fellow children because we enjoyed being with you. Thank you so very much. You should know we are sad, since we won’t be able to see you anymore. We love you all, leaders and children. That’s all for now, since I am getting sad writing this. God bless you. Christine”

wp7bc5516f_05_06Anna* (16): “We are poor but this does not stop me from dreaming of a better life. I want to finish my studies and to help my mother, my grandmother and my two siblings. My father has already died but I made him my inspiration.

Since my mother was put to jail, my grandmother took the responsibility for me and my sister. My uncle took care of our youngest sibling. My grandmother earned our living from selling cooked food but her small income was not enough to provide for our needs, including our schooling. Luckily, my sister and I were included in the Child Sponsorship Program of Onesimo Bulilit. Just this year, my grandmother died because of an illness.

I got to know the foundation when I was thirteen years old. My sister and I were invited to join the camp in Mindoro but my grandmother refused because she was afraid something bad might happen to us. However, she allowed us to join when we were again invited to join the following year. I came to know the staff of Onesimo Bulilit and became trustful of them. They also got to know me and to trust my abilities, my courage and inner strength. I again joined the camp the following year but this time as a junior leader.

I enjoy being part of the Child Sponsorship Program. I am not only supported with school needs. Because of the program, I was also able to visit different places, which my grandmother could not afford. My relationship with the staffs became closer. They have been supportive and have always been ready to listen when I am in a difficult situation. I consider them my second parents and older siblings.  

For now, I only have one year to finish high school. I am thankful for the support Onesimo Bulilit is giving me, because this is the only support I have. I can only show my gratitude by performing well in my studies. I promise to be a good 4th year student.”

wpe426e032_05_06Jerome*: “What I liked most in the Leadership camp is the outdoor activities, especially the rappelling. We had to get down a high cliff of the Agbalala Falls. Kuya Daniel told us that if we didn’t try to go down, we would have to walk down again from the mountain. That’s why we all gave our best to rappel down even though it was really scary in the beginning. One more thing that I learned from the Adventure camp was that it’s not a joke because if you make a mistake you might slip or fall and you might suffer bruises or injury. Above all, our topic about Joseph encouraged me to give my best to finish my studies, because God has a plan for me. Thank you very much.”

Amirah*: “I was so happy that I was included in the recent leadership camp. I had so much fun and I was able to prove to myself that I can make it and that I have many skills. I learned so many things, especially getting to know each potential leader in a personal way. And it’s the first time I experienced living on an island. I hope that I will have many more such experiences and I suggest having many more and longer adventure camps.”

*names changed for confidentiality reason