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Making New Friends in the PhilippinesVoluntary Service at the Little Home of Nazareth
Written by Ashley Choi | Published. 2019.04.16 20:30 | Count : 501
When I first heard that our family was going to visit the Philippines’ Home for Neglected, Orphaned and Abandoned Children, I was very excited. I had heard of the poor children of the Philippines and was more than glad to have been a direct source of help. Moreover, I would finally be able to experience the work my mom has done while working in UNICEF before my brother and I were born. Since I was young, my mom told me and my brother about how she had visited different places around the world to meet people of various backgrounds and cultures. Since then, it had always been my wish to visit a place where we could be a help for struggling people alongside my mom, who would share her experience-based knowledge on how to add happiness and positivity to their lives.
[Me holding the UNICEF donation envelope while heading to the Philippines. 
Photo taken by Eunhee Cho]
The place I visited was named “Pequena Casa de Nazareth,” which means “Little Home of Nazareth” in Spanish. It was located in Las Pinas city, and it was a home mainly for orphaned children in Manila. On the way there, I saw many impoverished people sleeping on the ground begging for money, and how one small coin brightened their mood and induced genuine smiles. Witnessing this attitude of Philippines made me view those who are struggling in a different way. I realized how the quote “Money can’t buy happiness” by Rousseau, a famous Genevan Philosopher, is very accurate and true by seeing all these positive Filipinos.

Despite that the orphaned children from this little home were not guaranteed with continued education or a financially secure childhood--factors that are considered as prerequisites for happiness by many--I had clearly seen true satisfaction in their faces. It wasn’t that our family provided them with big toys or expensive gifts. We gave them some of their favorite treats such as ice cream and chocolate, and some daily necessities like sanitary toiletries and instant ramen. Yet, they looked as if they were given the whole world. It took me by surprise that the kids there, in some aspects, were brighter, happier, and more appreciative of the smallest sources of joy than those who enjoy better quality of life.
[Me teaching Korean to the children. Photo taken by Eunhee Cho]
When I first entered the orphanage, the children were much more welcoming to the visitors than I had expected. I was mildly concerned that they would feel shy and awkward in our presence, but on the contrary, they were very open to meeting new people. The highlight of our interactive bonding experience was when I found out that the children enjoyed the same famous K-pop songs as I did. I was happy to see that we shared the same interests. They showed me some of the dance moves they learned from recent K-pop hits and even taught me some of them. In return, I introduced them to new choreographies and taught them some basic greetings in Korean. We even gave them Korean names and wrote them in a piece of paper for them to keep, so that they could show it to all their friends, and remember us every time they are reminded of that name. The kids were very proud and satisfied with their new names and they even read it aloud to not forget it. Observing how Korean music and language could positively influence youths of other countries, I felt proud to be part of this culture that was bringing so much happiness even abroad. 
[Teaching  choreography of a song “Solo” to the children.
Photo taken by Eunhee Cho]
Thanks to the visit, I was reminded of how valuable what I have is, and how blessed I am with the education and love I am receiving. Some of the basic things that I perhaps took for granted were what could bring the children at the orphanage the greatest pleasure. I had learned through this amazing experience that we should all be thankful for what we possess or have received. Moreover, I resolved that I will not take my educational opportunities, financial stability, and supportive family for granted and will make the best out of them to later return what I have reaped back to society. Despite the children’s brightness and apparent happiness amongst deplorable circumstances, I am sure that they deserve more; the hardships they are going through are indeed challenging and may discourage them. I therefore firmly believe that, given how they were so appreciative of even the smallest acts of support, even the small donations and care we offer for children in poverty all around the world would bring them joy and determination to live positively through tough situations.


Ashley Choi
Grade 8
Seoul International School

Ashley Choi  student_reporter@dherald.com

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