It was my first time to feed kids—not just five, ten or twenty kids but more than a hundred. I have mixed reaction when our employer proposed the idea of a feeding activity during Christmas season. That gnawing feeling of anxiety, thinking if I can pull it off, and at the same time excitement for the fact that I can make hundred kids happy.
I was the leader in my group. There are 18 groups in the Head Office, and 23 groups for the branches. We are thirteen in my group, comprising of employees from various department in the Head Office. When I open the idea to them about the feeding activity, I have apprehensions regarding their reaction. Fortunately, the feedback was positive. Everybody got excited.
After the announcement, the discussion turned to planning. When do we feed a hundred children? Where? What food will we prepare? The task looked enormous if you think of it initially. But as the meeting progress, and assignments has been delegated to every members, it became light and easy. And exciting.
The chosen community is a foundation in Project 08, Quezon City—He Cares Foundation. The foundation has been engaged in this kind of activity for the past 13 years. We thought of partnering in a foundation, instead of a barangay, to avoid political color and vested interest of some politicians to get in the way. With the forthcoming national election next year, I am sure current leaders from the barangay aspiring for higher position will make demands for their own personal advantage. The feeding activity was scheduled on the afternoon of November 22, 2009. We prepared vegetarian spaghetti and puto for the kids, since the feeding time is 3pm. One of the pre-requisite of the feeding activity is to prepare nutritious, meatless food. Everyone was given the address and sketch of the venue for direction. Our call time is 1pm, directly in He Cares Foundation.
When everyone was already there, all trooped to the kitchen thinking how to help in the food preparation. But I told the women in the group to start the games already. The men can handle the kitchen. Division of labor. There are a lot of kids! Noisy, active and playful. Their excitement was infectious. By 1.30pm we had registration to see how many we will feed. We had them line up. We told them to arrange accordingly so we can start with the games and fun play. They were obedient and courteous. Everybody participated. Smiling.
The games presented were dance showdown, singing contest, trip to Jerusalem and hep-hep-hooray. The kids were without hesitation to join. Not a single hint of inhibition. They raised their hands high when they wanted to join. Even the kids who are not participating in the contest are joining the contestants in singing and dancing! Amazing energy from the kids. They were really giving their 100%.
You can see from the pictures how happy they are that afternoon. They are engrossed at the present moment. Around 3pm, and when the games are over, and the prizes has been distributed, it’s time to eat. This is personally my dreaded part because I don’t know how the kids will take the vegetarian spaghetti! Although we have taste-tested the pasta in advance for select kids, it is different when you see their faces in the actual feeding. It’s nerve-wracking, the thought how the food fare to their taste!
Good thing the general feedback was positive. The foundation has good facilities for feeding hundreds of kids so it was easy for us to prepare and logistically seat more than a hundred kids. While the games is about to finish, the spaghetti has to be put in paper plates and serve it in the tables so that all the kids will do is line up to his/her assigned seat. When you tell the kids to fall in line so they can eat their spaghetti in an orderly manner, they follow. They are well-behaved. Now that they are eating, we have to be watchful of their needs.
Some finish their food fast. Some needed juice refill. We became their waiters and waitresses for a moment. And they can be very demanding, but I cannot complain because it’s a sign of irresponsibility. Besides, I am enjoying every bit of it. Each kid was given a give-away before they went home. It is school supplies for their educational needs. We believe that giving them, in our own little way, something that will help them with their schooling would mean a lot. I believe that education is a great equalizer.
The smile that was on their faces, the excitement and noise during the fun games, the gusto while eating their yummy spaghetti, the idea of seva, and the fact that we were able to feed more than 130 kids evokes a sense of great joy to me. It was heartwarming and memorable experience, indeed. One thing that struck me the most about this experience is during the last part where I have to say thank you to the foundation, for letting us be part of their endeavour for a day. The co-owner curtly replied “Diyos na ang bahala sa inyo.”
I was touched. I know that there are many other good Samaritans who help them with their endeavour on a regular basis, but the ways she said it comes from the heart. Truly when you are self-less and is exposed to this kind of charitable undertaking, you emit a good and positive energy to people around you. And I truly felt that magic in her eyes when she said it. Very simple yet meaningful. And me, as the receiver of that energy felt an involuntary yrge to pay it forward. I believe in the goodness of people and the more this energy is transferred and forwarded, we can be the change that we want to aspire in this world.
You know, during our feeding activity, Efren Penaflorida also won the CNN Hero Of The Year for 2009 on the other side of the world. His exemplary and selfless service to the poor kids of Cavite is also something worth commending. He said something during his speech “you be the change that you want to be, as I will be the change that I want to be, and together we will be the change that this world needs.”
Simply, it is giving without expecting anything in return. The true meaning of seva, for me.