Our VP of Sales & Marketing, Melanie P Florentino filed this report:
Dear SAS Ai Family,
Our VP of Sales & Marketing, Melanie P Florentino filed this report:
Dear SAS Ai Family,
In pursuing our mission to help bright kids from poor families finish high school, we come across many special applications or requests for financial aid. One such request came across our desk for consideration earlier this year. We can relate to this story. All of us are just one paycheck away from being homeless.
Maria, (we changed the names to keep the privacy of the parties involved) and her husband Taliofero operated a small cafe-diner. The place was no bigger than four office cubicles joined together, furnished with four tables with four chairs each. The simple menu included many local dishes affordably priced and targeted toward a clientage composed of the local government workers, school faculty and staff and a few students from wealthier families, who carry sizable lunch money allowance. Bottom line, business was booming. Maria was able to send her daughter Donna to private high school.
Then the unimaginable happened. Taliofero had a massive heart attack while cooking a batch of Dinuguan (a local blood pudding delicacy with pork innards). Their sense of loss and grief exponentially doubled as Maria suffered a stroke soon after they buried Taliofero. Utterly devastated, the family began to sell some of their belongings, jewelry and home furnishings to help run the business and to survive. Although it was touching and inspiring to see Maria and Donna try everything to mitigate the ravages of physical handicap and erosion of morale, the situation was nevertheless a portrait of raw despondency and frustration. Creditors repossessed their home. They moved back to Maria’s mother’s house.
Donna was going into her last year of high school. She had been an honor student all three years earlier and actively involved in the school paper as assistant editor. Donna’s bright and shows tremendous potential. But now, out of money and essentially broke, she faces transferring to the public high school. They applied for financial aid so Donna can graduate at the same high school wherein she started.
Our committee didn’t take long to decide. Donna will graduate this year from St Augustine’s School.
Our volunteers who run the everyday business of the SAS Ai financial aid program experienced their labor’s just reward at the graduation ceremonies of our first 2014 class of scholars. They remembered a group of kids, some shy and timid, who joined us in the program last 2009-2010. They were no more than young, tender saplings, newly graduated from intermediate school, filled with dreams and high expectations. They enthusiastically dove in, head first into the school year.
We all remembered the times when some of them faltered, slowed down by the dizzying array and sheer volume of high school work. Pop quizzes, periodic tests, quizzes, exams and research assignments, writing projects, athletic intramural sporting events, and vocational shop classes all added to the burden. But true to their promise they slugged it out and prevailed making all of us so proud. Four of them placed in the honor roll with one finishing as the class salutatorian. At the graduation reception, they stood beaming with pride along with their parents, teachers and mentors. Amid the flurry of activity from the paparazzi, they all thanked our donors and program supporters.“We thank you all, our dear benefactors, donors, and sponsors.
A few members of the Board of Trustees based abroad made it to the Philippines during the graduation ceremony. Joining in the celebration they saw how our newly graduated scholars extended their gratitude and appreciation as they spoke with all the dignitaries and guests. Talk about some happy campers. Our scholars looked so grown up. Where has the time gone? With smiles and grins and small conversations later, our volunteers, donors and supporters all agreed: “It was all worth it – all that sacrifice and labor.”
And so it is.
“Mom, can I stay home today and work on my math assignment? I am behind.” Rose Ann sounded worried. As a family they planned to harvest the corn the whole day. It was just her and her parents.
“Rose sweetheart,” her mother softly replied, “you have to do what you have to do. School’s very important and your father and I will manage.”
Rose’s parents, Mr and Mrs Fajardo want Rose Ann to keep up her good grades so that she can keep her scholarship. Like most folks in the village, the Fajardo’s live by the “scratch and peck,” system of daily survival. Their field’s planted all year round with cash crops like corn, mung beans, sugar beets, and rice. Tenant farming puts food on the table but not much else. The Fajardo ladies don’t buy fabric from which to sew dresses; they use softened flour sackcloth or empty rice sacks. The little money saved from produce sales goes to the livestock feed and fertilizer. For this reason Rose Ann applied for financial aid to finish high school.
Mature for her age, Rose Ann performed well in elementary school maintaining a grade point average of 89%. Shy, introverted and demure, her classmates make fun of her timidity – all in jest – no malice. Members of our Field Team counsel and coach her to open up, be vocal specially during classroom discussions. “Ask the teacher questions. Don’t be afraid of ridicule,” they strongly suggest. “Class participation is critical, and if you don’t speak up, you won’t get any answers,” they would continue. For her part, Rose Ann gave opening up a good try. She is getting better each day and the Field Team makes it a point to recognize her improvement during scheduled meetings.
Rose Ann wants to finish high school and go on to higher learning. With her indomitable spirit and self-confidence we are hopeful of her future. We are proud to help her attend high school. On behalf of Rose Ann and on behalf of all our scholars, we thank you our benefactors. Without your generous help and donations, we would not be able to conduct our mission.
“Dogs don’t chase parked cars,” my father was fond of saying. It seemed as if it was his “Ultimate Windex” canned response to all dirt, grime and slime problems submitted to him for clean up consideration.
I remember telling my father about a problem I had with another high school paper staff writer. Every day this boy would scream and yell at me, “You don’t know how to write! You can’t write. You have no idea what you are doing! What are you doing here?”
“Sheeessh…” I thought. He could at least show me where I was falling short, help me correct my mistakes, or how I can improve my style – whatever. Not this constant ridicule, personal attacks and public humiliation. But no such luck. The harassment went on. I said nothing to the Principal or home room teacher about the boy and his hostile actions. I let his juvenile outbursts slide.
The editor in chief, a teacher assigned to head the paper, would intervene and get in between me and the bully – if she were there present in the room. There were times it would be just me and the agitator in the room and I would suffer much from his bellicose attitude and taunts. I’d bite my lip so hard my inner mouth lining bled or formed packets of blood clots. I didn’t want to fight the boy. Honest. I wasn’t afraid of him. I dreaded suspension and shaming my parents in front of the priests and nuns who ran the school.
Talking to my father and pouring out my troubles gave me a sense of calm. “Dogs don’t chase parked cars,” he said it again. “You’re doing something right for that paper… you’re on the move,” he continued. “Why else would this boy act so agitated toward you? Almost seems as if he wants you out of there. Too much competition maybe?”
My father’s words sank in, percolated, and like cream rose to the surface. I took my cue and thought to myself. “If I were a car, why would this dog be chasing me?” A window burst open in my mind and streaming sunshine came pouring in. “Of course! If I were a car… hey, I am not a parked car. You know? I am moving!” I laughed and hugged my father. “Thank you Sir…” I managed to blurt out as I ran out to the yard.
Monday morning. The editor called me in to her office. “You’ve got the interview with the President of the University. I am assigning it to you because you’ve earned it. You write more like a journalist as opposed to a comic book writer.” She looked refreshed, glad and ready for the week. “Here…” she held out an envelope and motioned for me to take it.
I gasped as I regained my breath. Good grief. I didn’t even realize I had stopped breathing. “I… I… thanks Ms David. When is the President coming to visit?” I asked as I stepped closer to her desk.
“Here’s the assignment packet.” She handed me a brown envelope. “All the information is in there. Familiarize yourself with the dates, times, venues, and talk with his personal secretary to schedule the interview. You might as well do the whole kit and caboodle.” Ms David seemed pleased with her decision.
It was a moment to celebrate… It felt good to be recognized for one’s own work ethic and performance. Indeed, dogs don’t chase parked cars.
I looked into their eyes, sunken, tired, dimmed and almost cataract ridden. Mr and Mrs Ulpindo grasp for straws. Where would their family go, to whom could they turn for help so their daughter Kisses Ulpindo can attend and finish high school? A heavy pall of desperation hangs over their shanty. His face weather-beaten, the father ages before his time. The mother tries hard to stay upbeat but it’s clear she’s reaching her wit’s end. She worries about where to get the next cup of rice to feed her family.
This same scenario repeats itself throughout the region. There are no paying jobs, no manufacturing firms that hire, no paying customers. Life must go on however and the father cultivates the landlord’s land for a fifth of the harvest. He sets his fishing traps in the open sea from sun-up to sun-down, and scours the neighborhood for odd jobs for most of the day.
Kisses Ulpindo, is part of this community’s future. All eyes are on her now. She’s bright, hard charging and knows a thing or two about going to bed hungry but gets up in the morning anyway like clockwork to do her chores. It’s inspiring to learn that the Ulpindo Family, confronted by all these temporal lacks and perceived needs, makes it a priority to make sure their daughter at least finishes her high school education. They are willing to ply the streets begging to help her make it happen.
We rejoice at the opportunity to lend the Ulpindo Family a helping hand. We are going to send Kisses to high school beginning this school year and we need your help to continue sending Kisses Ulpindo and kids in her circumstance to school. We ask that you please open a monthly $10 dollar donation allotment by clicking DONATE NOW. Thank you and God bless you.
Eleven years old, graduating from 6th grade, shedding the “elementary school” mentality, and raring to enter seventh grade and into the intermediate league. What goes through the mind of an 11-year old youth about school and the future?
I am willing to bet most of such 11-year old thinking resembles a pail of benign, tangled and disorganized notions. Superfluous thoughts skewed by feelings, fairy tales, wild crushes, hazy ideas, exorbitant wishes, daydreams, strange desires, unachievable ambitions, unsteady emotions, hurts worse than death, diabolical ideas of revenge, mischief, puppy love, infatuation, nocturnal secrets… murky, opaque thoughts that seem like a multitude of narrow paths resembling ribbons etched on the grass where goats walk and graze, where kids run, cavort and play… just a sandbox.
The verdant landscape mind of an active 11-year old holds a world of promise. Parents must recognize, accept, and learn to help their child put order to such a youthful mind. Needed are patience, tolerance, love, fairness, firmness, and an even-handed hold on the reins. In time the youthful mind begins to put things in order, first separating the open fields from the hedges, demarcating the hills from the mountains, grouping the rocks from the sand dunes and partitioning the nice, approachable, gentle and kind adults from the wicked, uncaring ones. Order gradually emerges. Finally and hopefully, chaos becomes unpredictable calm.
The secret to a desired outcome is collaboration between parent and child based on mutual respect, driven by mutual trust that parent and child walk in the same direction, and going for the same goal.
I know. Easier said than done. Don’t just talk about it; work on it.