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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Reaching Out

An Endearing Smile

For about 20 years now, both of us have been involved with Reach Youth Ministries, Inc., an NGO (non-government, non-profit organization) whose thrust is to help the poor - particularly street children and children living in depressed communities in many parts of the Philippines. Since our college days, we have been active volunteers for their Saturday outreaches (in fact it was even at Reach Youth where we first met), it really felt like we practically grew up and spent almost half of our lives there. Through this volunteer work, we've learned some of life's best lessons one can ever learn, met people who made such a strong impact in our lives, experienced the happiness serving brings and gained long-lasting friendships. Volunteers come from different walks of life - students, professionals, mothers, locals, expats, etc.

The main reason we joined this organization in the first place was because even at our young age then, we've always had a heart for the poor. There's a tug we feel in our hearts whenever we see impoverished kids, helpless and almost without hope of having a bright future ahead of them. Both of us have been blessed in many ways, and so we wanted to give back in whatever way we can, be able to share our time, talent and resources to these needy kids. We were assigned to do value formation classes and feeding programs to different communities. We were the teachers then, but we've always felt that we were the ones being taught - by life... learning important lessons about compassion, humility, contentment, commitment and so much more.

We've both grown so much as from our involvement in this NGO, and through the course of our relationship and interaction with the children, with the people in their communities and with our co-workers --our lives have been enriched in so many ways.

All through these 20 years, we we so blessed to have been immersed in this life-changing experience. Our many years of service in Reach Youth have been some of the best and most memorable years of our lives. Since we have left the Philippines in 2005, we were no longer able to actively volunteer and teach, but nevertheless, we are glad that we're still able to continue helping the organization in other ways. But we do miss going to the slum areas to be our kids every Saturday...

Our kids in Reach Youth Davao during our last visit on August 2007
(Arthur was taking the photo)

Having been a part of the lives of these kids...loving them and being loved by them...actually seeing some of them grow up and make good of their future, the beautiful smiles across their faces, their tender hugs which is their way of saying "thank you".... these... all these have given us pure and abounding joy.

This is our photo essay submission to A Picture's Worth.

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