Saturday, February 19, 2005

He Cares

I had not been to He Cares Foundation for several months. There was always something to do on Saturdays. I had missed going there and had always planned to go back to volunteering. Today I visited the streetchildren again, together with other volunteers. We served in the regular Mass and feeding, a once-a-month activity of our community. The people whom Jesus loves remembered me, maybe not by name but by face. They smiled in recognition and waved "hi!" They did not ask where I had been all those months. They were just glad to see friends who would care enough to visit them more than once and to share in their lives, even only for a few hours.

They had special lunch today because it was Ate Daisy's birthday celebration. They had hotdog, fried chicken, squid balls, menudo, rice, Choc-Nut and Flat Tops! My first job was to put catsup on the pieces of chicken. The younger ones always got to eat first. I interviewed some of them and asked which was their favorite among the food choices before them. One girl said she loved the ketchup. She had chicken, hotdog, even menudo, which is usually associated with Filipino fiestas, and yet her simple taste buds preferred the ketchup over rice. Her seatmate asked for the untouched chicken leg on her plate and she willingly gave it away. Some of the small kids, not used to having too many choices for lunch, gave back the viands they could not eat. When the teenagers and the "street-parents" came, they consumed their share and even the excess from the younger kids' plates.

Having come from my first cardio-latino workout before going to the activity, my feet were killing me, and so in between handing out extra rice, ketchup, and water, I stole precious seconds to sit down and rest my aching feet. The other volunteers were tireless and more energetic. Everybody smiled, even when a kitchen pipe burst and the floor became flooded. It was a familiar atmosphere. The Holy Spirit was so alive in that place.

A couple of times, some of the children cornered me and asked if I was the lady who appears on Channel 7. It never fails. For years now, there has been an urban legend among the He Cares kids that I am that traffic reporter. Sometimes, to indulge them I say that I am and see their faces light up with joy, to have a celebrity in their midst, no matter how little known. They do it for every ate and kuya, asking them if they are actors or actresses. Our new friend Daniel said yes he was an actor, and the kids probably believed him because he was white and could not speak a word of Tagalog.

I have not found a permanent solution to poverty and hunger. I believe in what Kuya Joe Dean, Ate Ardis and the He Cares Foundation is doing. They evangelize the streetchildren and streetparents, introducing Jesus Christ to them. More than feeding their bodies, they seek to nourish the souls of the children. That has always been my reason for going back, as the way I see it, the foundation forms and raises the youth into mature and productive citizens. I have personally seen some of them who look healthier and happier everytime I come back. The Lord must really be taking care of His children there. I am thankful for being a witness to that once more.

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