Ever since my first “real” job out of college, I have used a portion of my paycheck to make financial contributions to the charities that are most important to me. It’s my very small way of supporting positive change in the world, and it has pushed me to consider experiences and issues beyond my own.
When I became a mother, I wasn’t sure how to pass on the value of charitable giving to my daughters (and honestly, it was a while before I could think of doing anything with them except keeping them alive, fed, and safely occupied!). It wasn’t until I learned about Philippines Humanitarian and its student sponsorship program that I found a meaningful way to introduce them to the practice.
Importantly, the $18 monthly donation is an amount of money my girls can easily understand. For them, $18 means something special, like some cool craft projects from Michael’s or a trip to the movie theater. In Payatas, the money gives Janeca Mae and Aliah access to something my kids take for granted—an education, and a better future for them and their families. Corresponding with two girls who live next to a garbage dump, with no running water or electricity, makes my family more aware of our extremely privileged place in the world. It pushes us to become more grateful and less acquisitive, and to find ways to help others.
And yet, despite the enormous gap between the living situations of my daughters and our sponsored students, all four girls have a lot in common and could easily be friends. They are all around the same age, wear plaid jumpers to school, love to study science and do craft projects, have siblings and parents, celebrate Christmas and have holiday breaks from school. The letters we send to and receive from our students encourage us to feel a fellowship with people who live far away and in vastly different circumstances from our own. This fellowship is as significant as the recognition of our different material circumstances.
Important to me is that I trust Philippines Humanitarian, and that I know our contributions go directly to our students. Board member accounts of their travels to Payatas, the letters my family receives from our students, Eva Aquino’s photos of students opening the Balikbayan Boxes, and the accessibility of the organization’s leaders all assure me that we are with the right organization.
It has been almost three years since our family enrolled in the student sponsorship program, and we look forward to continuing our financial contributions throughout our students’ schooling. My husband and I are so thankful to Philippines Humanitarian for providing our daughters with a valuable introduction to the charitable world, and for allowing us to help two girls who are so very much like our own.
Photo Caption: Cori with her husband James and her daughters Rosy (11) and Mae (8)