On the last week of October, students from Seoul Foreign School had the opportunity to experience new cultures during The Discovery Week. In the past, I’ve always enjoyed helping others and experiencing a different lifestyle; therefore I was very excited to go to the Philippines.
Our destination was San Juan of Metro Manila, the smallest town in the Philippines and also one of the provinces facing poverty. As we arrived at the Yunjin Lyso Ministry Center in San Juan, I realized, although it was not as luxurious, the center was considered to be one of the best “hotels” in the town. Near the ministry, there was JCCV (Jesus Christ’s Church in the Valley), a Christian school and Children’s Home for orphans. Many of the houses in San Juan were roof-less or worn out with limited space.
|[JCCV children and I pose for the camera]|
As I started my first service activity with dirty shift, it was already a challenge for me. Our construction task was to build a house for Carl, a local whose house had been damaged in the flood. Prepping the rocks and sands for cement was physically exhausting. The next shift was luckily a clean shift, we went to play with kids from the JCCV. At JCCV, there were many kids from a wide range of ages. In a basketball court, there were only two basketballs and one volleyball for many children. Nonetheless, our PST members had a lot of fun without noticing time going by. Little kids clicked the screens of our smart phones and enjoyed taking multiple pictures. When small drops of rain began to fall, our shift was over. Getting back to the Lyso center and eating lunch, we planned to go and feed the children as our next shift. In a small van, four girls including myself managed to squeeze in the back seats. Many adults and children began to crowd around our van as the helper lady announced the time for the meal. Watching the little kids holding plastic bags as their alternative of bowls allowed many of us to realize the severity of poverty the town was facing. Serving chicken vegetable porridge to those who came for food, I realized how privileged I was.
Another location our PST group visited was Project Pearls in Tondo. Tondo, Manila is a region with extreme pollution. Not only is the region heavily polluted, but also it has a high rate of poverty. Project Pearls was a center where 100-300 kids gathered weekly. As our group walked down the path of Tondo, I heard the kids’ voices screaming in excitement for our visit. Hearing the cheerful kids was a memorable moment to me. In the center, there were kids from ages 2-12 and a mixture of boys and girls. Children stood in a line to receive their bowls of spaghetti and bread while we prepared the food. The next activity was making paper crafts with the children. Unaware of time, it was soon time to leave and hand out books to the children. Leaving Project Pearls, I felt proud to see all the children leave the center with smiles. Fortunately, while we were there our group was able to take a part in celebrating a birthday of triplets at Jollibee. These triplets were gifted with a special celebration because their birth was known to be “blessed.” Overcoming a severe condition of malnutrition, these triplets were very lucky.
|[A photo with the children from Project Pearls]|
In the trip, we also visited Children's home, an orphanage house that has been partnering with SFS for many years. Our task was to pair up with a child and buy shoes for the new school year. I partnered with a toddler named Hugo. Hugo needed black shoes that were under the budget of 700 pesos. On the way to the mall, I was able to tell that Hugo was fascinated by the outdoors. Growing up in the orphanage house, many of the children were unable to explore outside of the small town. After a long ride in the jeepney, we arrived at the mall. Sharing Hugo’s first trip to the mall was a very special moment for the both of us. After a long period of shopping, we finally found a pair of black shoes that fit Hugo perfectly. Although choosing shoes under a budget was a challenge, watching Hugo’s thrilled reaction was priceless. On the last day of Project Pearls, saying farewell to one of the girls that I especially became fond of and the kids in JCCV was emotionally difficult.
|[Hugo and I holding the shoes we purchased]|
PST was an eye-opening and a life changing experience. Before serving in the Philippines, I’ve thought of service simply as a task to check off. However I was able to experience and find the meaning of serving others. I became grateful and more appreciative on behalf of the harsh situations in the Philippines. Seeing all the happy children in their poor conditions taught me to become a more positive and encouraging person. I had changed my thoughts in feeling guilty, instead to help and serve others who are in need. Also seeing children and adults in need of food, I’ve changed to reduce wasting food. Recently I’ve been planning on sponsoring children from the Project Pearls and Children’s Home. Overall, PST was an unforgettable and remarkable experience for me.
Seoul Foreign School
Jasmine Um firstname.lastname@example.org
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