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How can people be so heartless?
How can people be so cruel?
Easy to be hard, easy to be cold

How can people have no feelings?
How can they ignore their friends?
Easy to be proud, easy to say no.

Songwriters:  Ragni, Gerome / Rado, James / Mac Dermot, Galt

 

The words of this song from the late 60s were brought to mind recently when a 12 year-old boy was referred to us. His story reveals the heartlessness and cruelty of  people, and the ways that some children have to suffer at their hands. We'll call this boy Roberto and his younger  brother, Michael.

Roberto and Michael were brought to an orphanage in Cebu City when they were babies. The orphanage, which was connected to a Protestant church,  was not a good place. When the boys were older they were abused. Punishment was severe, sometimes cruel. The lady who was in charge of the place was the one dealing out the beatings. Luckily, the place was closed down and the children were parceled out to other child caring institutions. CSC got three girls from that place, but we did not have room for boys at the time, so Roberto and his brother, then nine and 10,  went to live at a home for children on a neighboring island. Shortly after there arrival there, one of the boys threatened Roberto. (The home catered to older kids, and their residents included some who had lived on the streets and were used to fighting and intimidation.) On the second night they were there, Roberto decided to run away. Michael was afraid to go out into the dark night, but Roberto was able to find a young boy, just five years old, to go with him. The gate was always left open so they had no trouble getting away.

Roberto only knew one place to go, back to the church where he had lived. He didn't know that it was 18 miles from where they were starting out. And they had to cross a long bridge that led to Cebu island. But he knew he wanted to leave that place, so off they went into the night.

4027610d6729eae29It took two days and nights to get to the church. They slept along the road, wherever they could find a spot that looked safe. On the second morning Roberto woke up and discovered that his little companion was gone. Without a trace. All he could do was keep going. When he finally got to the church he found that it was closed up. The gate was locked. One of the former orphanage workers said that he could be their family's houseboy, but that didn't last for long. One day that family packed up and left, and Roberto had no place to go.

Out of desperation, he found a big piece of cardboard which became his bed for the cardluigi4027e2683dnext months. He slept just outside the locked gate of the former church/orphanage. He would look for food wherever he could find it, in garbage cans or occasional handouts from neighbors. Other times he would steal food to feed his hungry stomach, which enraged people in the community. He was often beaten by neighborhood boys. One family took pity on him and would stop the boys from beating him, and would give him food. Life was hard for Roberto. No place to live. Nobody to take him in. He missed his brother and worried about the boy who had disappeared along the way. How can people be so heartless? How can they be so cruel?

One of the compassionate neighbors knew about CSC and informed us about the situation of Roberto. We get lots of referrals and can not respond immediately to all of them. Eventually our social worker and counselor went to visit Roberto and hear his story. They were overwhelmed by the things that had happened to him. In the next few days we made contact with the place where Michael was staying and arranged a meeting with their social worker. Two of our social workers, Chris and our new Social Worker Director, Klaris, and our counselor, Eldie, made the trip to the neighboring island to discuss the boys' case. Michael was relieved to hear that Roberto was okay. He hadn't heard anything about him for a year and a half. Both boys wanted to be reunited and it was determined that this should happen the next day at CSC.

jllibeeb913e77c9bThe reunion was so sweet for the boys. They were more than a little amazed at the facilities of CSC and the course of events that had brought them back together. After more counseling and some medical tests, and a talk with a representative of the place where Michael was living, our staff made the decision to admit Michael and Roberto. The boys would no longer be separated and Roberto's days of homelessness would end. It was an exciting day for all of us. They boys needed to go back to their respective places, get the few things they owned, and say goodbye before becoming official CSC kids. But first we brought them to Jollibee, a fast food restaurant near CSC. It was so much fun to watch the boys eat and laugh. It must have seemed a little surreal to them to be together at that place with a group of adults who were concerned about them and wanted them to be together in a nice and safe place. Roberto was not able to finish his chicken and we were surprised when he asked if he could have a bag for "take-home."

When they got to the place where Roberto had been staying, he ran to one of the houses near the church, the place where one of the people who had protected him from the cruel boys lived. This was the first person who had shown concern for him, maybe in his whole life. Roberto wanted to give this guy the leftover chicken from Jollibee! It was one of the most touching things that we have known about in our many years of working with kids. A few acts of kindness had made a huge difference in Roberto's life and he wanted to say "thank you" in the only way he knew how.

Later that day the boys were officially admitted, and spent the night in the infirmary while Cherne_Home_1e70279145bwe waited for their lab results. The next morning they moved into the Cherne Home, where house parents Tarex and Pureza and the children welcomed them. It was the biggest day in their lives, so far. And there are many big days ahead. They will be making a lot of new friends and will soon be enrolled in our Children of Hope School. They won't be apart. They won't be hungry. If they are sick they will be provided with the best medical care available in the Philippines. If they are sad they'll be comforted. And they will get the chance to learn about a loving Heavenly Father and a friend and Savior who will never abandon them.

Yes, its easy to be heartless. Easy to be cruel. But its also easy to be kind. Easy to be a needed friend. Kids need a friend. Thanks to all who make it possible for us to say yes to kids like these two and the many others who need the love and care of our Shelter.

  

 

Embracing Hope

Jun. 10, 2024By: Teacher Lyrah Ann

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The Cebu Children of Hope School recently marked a significant milestone with its annual Moving Up Ceremony and Recognition Rites. This celebration symbolized the incredible resilience of its students in overcoming extraordinary challenges. The event commenced with a processional and an uplifting opening prayer, setting a tone of gratitude and hope that resonated throughout the ceremony.

The Field Director's welcoming address underscored the importance of this milestone in the students' educational journey, prompting a moment of reflection on how far these young minds had come. Emotions rose as the Principal recognized the candidates for completion, celebrating their hard work and dedication. It was a moment of joy for the students and everyone who had supported them along the way. The ceremony also recognized non-completers, honoring their efforts and progress. This segment highlighted the school's commitment to helping every student on their path.

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One of the ceremony's highlights was the guest speech by the Executive Director of Phase Two Cebu Group. In it, he emphasized the transformative power of education and the value of perseverance. Another standout moment was the gratitude speech by a Grade Six student. Her words were a touching reminder of the impact of community and support:

"When I arrived, everyone was a stranger to me, and making new friends was challenging. I questioned whether I'd ever find someone to help me until a group of people stepped in to offer their support and encouragement, bringing joy, peace, and kindness into my life. Without these people, I would never have realized my dreams.
You've all been like guiding stars, leading me toward my goals with your teachings, encouragement, and big hearts. Your presence here has made perseverance and consistency possible. Above all, I thank God for placing me in this special place. I surrender all my doubts to Him and am grateful for His forgiveness through His
son, Jesus Christ."

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Her heartfelt words touched everyone present, emphasizing the significant impact of the community's support. The celebration continued with awards for the completers, celebrating their exceptional achievements. The Kindergarten and Grade Six Completers performed their completion songs, adding a joyful and celebratory atmosphere to the event.

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As the ceremony concluded, it marked both an end and a new beginning for these resilient students. It was a day filled with laughter, tears, and deep camaraderie. It was a day to celebrate their journey and eagerly anticipate the bright futures that lie ahead.

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Edible Happiness

May. 24, 2024By: Home Life Team

Ever wonder how we prepare meals for 20 children in one house daily? Our long-time cook, Auntie Helen, prepares a delicious and healthy lunch for our children in Cherne Home. Our cooks enjoy seeing our children join the empty plate club, which means the food is delicious, and the children are satisfied! Here is a snippet of lunch preparation in Cherne Home.

"The Bow and the Arrow"

May. 9, 2024By: Counseling Department

Children are explorers. Curiosity often leads them to peek Screenshot_2024-05-09_at_5.21.37PMinside the doorknob's key hole; enthralls them to touch a squealing kettle; and ferry their feet into places where they are not allowed to be. Often, boundaries are broken.

Children are expressive. Emotions often steer their ship as they navigate their social world. They jump, giggle, grin, and laugh when happy. A frown, a downturned face, and a shoulder-drop paint their sadness. Talking back, kicking the wall, shutting down, spitting, throwing things, and crying are the easiest cards to pull out when they are angry. Often, adults' patience is challenged.

Children, most of the time, do not listen, nor take heed of instructions and reminders; they have a loose grip of morality that even memory verses fall short of reminding them to be good. But this does not mean we stop teaching them to be kind. This is to remind us that children are fallible and that they do not have the skill sets to fully self-manage; even adults have difficulty regulating themselves, too. And children who misbehave a lot are often painted with a different color palette, viewed as a problematic child.

Screenshot_2024-05-09_at_5.21.51PMAt CSC, children do not only go through these developmental obstacles. They are also bringing with them their adverse experiences. For some children, this baggage magnifies their difficulty to self-regulate. Without a proper lens, dealing with these children might be quite challenging. As adults, the common response is to control these behaviors but with the aid of Trauma Informed Care, houseparents, caregivers, and other staff have a better understanding of the underlying factors of such behaviors. Rather than seeking control, comfort is offered. Rather than spending time preaching the rules and whatnots, cultivating a relationship is the focus. Rather than seeing the child as problematic, the child is seen as a work in progress, still growing to reach his/her full potential, and to give the child a chance to lead a more meaningful life. Through Trauma Informed Care, we are always reminded with how Khalil Gibran viewed how children should be guided. In his poem, he said:

"...You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
 For they have their own thoughts.
 You may house their bodies but not their souls,
 For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
 You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
 For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
 You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
 The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
 Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
 For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."
Khalil Gibran, excerpt from On Children

One Light Tube At a Time

May. 6, 2024By: Mark Leop

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Within the borders of the shelter, the facilities maintenance team plays an essential role in ensuring the physical environment reflects the warmth and love that these children deserve. Our tasks extend far beyond fixing leaky faucets or repairing broken doors; we are entrusted with the responsibility of sustaining an atmosphere where hope can grow.

The team's recent activity was replacing the dim, outdated lighting fixtures with vibrant, energy-efficient tube lights that transformed the ambiance of the homes. Where once there was gloom, now a radiant glow spreads throughout the corners, giving a sense of joy.

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For the children, the newfound brightness serves as a symbol of hope, a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there are those who care enough to bring light into their lives. The simple joy of being able to read a book without straining their eyes is a blessing that many take for granted.

Seeing the smiles of the children motivates us to undertake more works and activities that not only improve the physical environment but also uplift the spirits of those who call this place home, one light tube at a time.

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Easter Celebration at CCHS: A Joyful Time of Togetherness and Introspection

Apr. 22, 2024By: Teacher Mae

At Cebu Children of Hope School, Easter isn't just about chocolate and colorful eggs – it's a time for friendly
competition, laughter, and unforgettable memories. This year's Easter celebration was no exception, as
students, teachers, and staff came together for a day filled with thrilling games and challenges that brought out
the competitive spirit in everyone.

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Dancing and Singing Songs:
Easter songs sounded in the big room as students gathered for a special assembly to start the day off. We sang songs that spoke of hope, resurrection, and renewal, which filled our hearts with the spirit of the occasion. The environment was infused with energy as students and teachers performed lively dances with an Easter theme, showcasing their inventiveness and enthusiasm after the upbeat music. 

Discovering the Significance of Easter:
It was essential to pause among the celebrations and consider Easter's more profound meaning.
Students learned about Easter's biblical and historical background through lively discussions and
interactive video presentations. Easter tells the account of Jesus' resurrection, which helps people
appreciate and value our holiday more deeply.

Easter Arts and Crafts:
Creativity was blooming as students engaged in various Easter-themed crafts and activities. Each activity allowed self-expression and artistic exploration, from coloring eggs to designing eggs. These hands-on experiences not only sparked imagination but also encouraged students to feel fulfilled.

Egg Blowing Contest:
The Egg Blowing Contest followed, where competitors tested their lung capacity in a match of breath and skill. Competitors tried to blow their eggs across a marked finish line using only a hollowed-out egg and unwavering resolve. Cheers broke out as the eggs raced through the floor, driven only by the competitors' breath. Everyone was on the edge of their seats throughout the entertaining and exciting Egg Blowing Contest.

Walking Eggs Contest:
It was the Walking Egg Contest, which tested participants' balance, coordination, and willpower. Using spoons held in their mouths, participants carefully balanced eggs as they made their way through an obstacle course. The contestants' constant fear of losing their precious cargo made the competition much more suspenseful. As competitors crossed the finish line with their eggs remarkably intact despite the odds, the crowd cheered them on.

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Prize or Challenge:
Inside each egg, an enjoyable task or a treasured prize awaits everyone, heightening the celebration's mystery and excitement. Rewards might be anything from candies to tiny trinkets. On the other hand, challenge activities allow kids to work on tasks that promote creativity, confidence, and collaboration.

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As the time began to end on another memorable Easter celebration at CCHS, laughter echoed through the air and smiles lit up the faces of all who participated. Through games and challenges that tested skill and spirit, we came together as a school community to celebrate the joy and camaraderie that define this particular time of year. As we reflect on the day's festivities, let us carry the spirit of Easter with us – a spirit of fun, friendship, and boundless enthusiasm.

Happy Easter from all of us at Cebu Children of Hope School!