The Philippines is a land of stark contrasts, there are those that live in homes the size of resorts with servants and all the comforts one could dream of while right outside their gate are families living in bamboo shacks without electricity, running water, or food for each meal. At first sight it would be easy to judge the rich and wonder why they don’t care or aren’t doing enough for those in need. Yet if each of us are honest, we too walk past those in need each day and never see them.
A homeless man on the street, someone begging for spare change, children left in foster care in desperate need of loving homes, all these needs seem to fade to black as we go about our day worrying about our own lives, needs and wants.
Is it really possible to help them anyway, we ask? When would it end? If I give to one would I have to give to them all? So not knowing what to do, we often choose to do nothing.
What if… it were possible to change a life? What if….a hand up was all they needed to make it on their own? Would you do it? Would you give?
Just two blocks down from our IDEA office here in Tagbilaran, Bohol a single dad lived under a tattered tarp with his son and three daughters. For five years he struggled to find work to provide for them, but looking for work meant leaving his younger children to fend for themselves throughout the day. When it rained they would crawl under the tarp and try to avoid the mud that puddled underneath. Sanitation and cleanliness were impossible.
Each summer IDEA’s teachers and caseworkers go out looking for deaf children. This summer they came across this man and his children. His son, John who is nine years old is deaf. When IDEA Founder Dennis Drake was made aware of the situation life took a dramatic turn for John and his family.
John was taken out to IDEA’s deaf school in Loon and introduced to the Dorm Mom, teachers and students. He was instantly accepted and loved and though he didn’t fully understand why he had to leave his family, he instantly had 50 new brothers and sisters. With new clothes, a bath, and nice warm meals he quickly started learning signs. By the end of the first week he knew his name and most of the alphabet and had a new older “brother” that was showing him the ropes.
Dennis offered John’s father a job as a painter working in IDEA’s shop. He fits in well and is a great addition to our staff.
This was a start, but something still needed to be done about their living situation. So while John was away at his first week of school, IDEA’s deaf construction crew along with the help of the vocational students from Bohol Deaf Academy, put together a home for John and his family.
Friday came and John boarded a bus with his new older brother and left Loon headed for home. He had no idea what was in store for him! There where his tattered tarp had stood was a new house. Complete with flooring, a dresser, a bed, living room set, food and new clothes for him and his sisters. And a group of deaf students and workers all welcoming him and his family to the IDEA family.
It’s been over a month since this day. John’s father is learning how to be a responsible worker and father and John continues to thrive in Loon. He loves learning and is very bright. His sisters are now clean and fed and able to attend the local day care.
What an amazing thrill to get to see lives changed so dramatically! Getting to see the staff and students be so excited about helping John and his family. Knowing they were once recipients of this same hand up and knowing how far they’ve been able to go since.
It doesn’t take much to change a life. Just be prepared, because when you give to those in need the life that may change the most is yours!