Smiles From The Philippines
Trip Start Mar 17, 2005
124Trip End Mar 13, 2006
Nanana and Tatana (Filipino for Mom Billy & Dad Joe) came to the Philippines 18 years ago and felt called to open an orphanage here in this small town. The orphanage currently has 140 children, ranging in age 7 months to adult. They have an accredited school onsite as well. Each age group of 20 kids has a large room full of bunks for each child and a bathroom to be shared
Both Matt and I have seen other orphanages and this one is so different from what we have seen in the past. These children are the most well-behaved and loving children that we think we have ever seen. Every single one of them came from a horrible situation prior to arriving to here and you would never know this by the way they behave and the way that they love each other.
The only way we can seem to explain what makes this place work so well is that these children were never loved before coming here and now they have so much love that it just explodes out of every child. You see God in every child here. There is so much love here that we have been brought to tears many times during our stay with the love we have felt from these children. Whenever we look up there are at least 5 children (or 30 of them....) turned towards us smiling the hugest smile you can imagine. All of the kids are excited to do chores, clean up the dishes, help the disabled kids get around, and never they never complain. The whole thing is almost shocking how much love they have for each other and how "functional" this place is
During our first afternoon here they held what they call 'Kids Praise' out in the slum behind their house. I'm unsure if slum is the best word, but it seems to fit and neither of us has seen anything as bad as this. Most houses have dirt floors, plywood or metal roofing walls and garbage laying in front of the house. The sewage is in a ditch between the dirt road and each "home". A small group of the kids from the orphanage set up some benches and they sang songs and taught a kids bible story. Around 30 kids from the community came out to join in the singing. Matt & I had so many stares, I guess our skin color and Matt's height were just too distracting to look straight ahead. We got the impression that few of them had ever seen non-Filipino or white people beyond Nanana & Tatana. After the kids time the orphanage kids walked around the neighborhood area inviting people to come to church the following morning. Many of them came the next day to the service, around 200 people were there, I guess it is usually 30 people or so. There were many kids that followed us around that day and we got some great photos. They loved our digital camera where they could see themselves on the screen. On our way back to the house we took an adventurous tricycle ride home, which is a motorcycle with a little seat attached to the side. The bike is supposed to hold 3 people, but we put 14 on it, you'll see the photo above. Rather humorous.
There is so much to share about this amazing place, and hard to put it all to words. Hopefully this gives part of a picture of how great it is here.