It was a tense moment mixed with anticipation while I wait behind closed doors when I knew my sponsored child would be the next one coming in. How would I react? How should I feel? Aside from the annual reports of his progress, he’s a complete stranger to me. I came to Puerto Princesa, Palawan to volunteer my photographic services to World Vision, a non-government organization known to help educate less-fortunate children around the globe. It was 5 years ago when I started to sponsor a child and little did I know I’ll come face to face with this child 5 years later.
Yes time fly by so fast. I remember stumbling on one of World Vision‘s booth at the mall 5 years of ago while thinking where I could find a good charity to give to. I was still in a corporate world back then and getting a good job with a high pay at that time, i felt so blessed I wanted to share it. Serendipity you might say that World Vision was just in the right place and time. I took a brochure home and pondered deeply on this. It was only P450/month at that time (now P600/month) so I decided to try. The staff at the booth presented a few kids I could sponsor, I chose this frail looking 8-year-old from Palawan named Ken (not his real name).
Challenges and 5 years
The sponsorship fee was automatically deducted from my credit card so after a few months, I barely notice my donation unless my card would expire or I would get my annual updates and receipts. I decided to sponsor another child, a little girl this time from Aklan. Unfortunately, after 2 years, I had to give her up since shifting to freelance challenged my financial standing. I was willing to give up all my sponsorship but decided to stick with one. Then at least a month ago, I received an invitation for a Loyal Donor’s Night. Who would have thought I would reach 5 years, I didn’t even notice.
At the Loyal Sponor’s night, aside from meeting fellow donors and being thanked for remaining loyal for 5 or so years, I learned about Lakbay Pag-Asa. It’s an annual occasion where World Vision would organize a trip on one of their areas and the sponsor would have a chance to finally meet their sponsored child face-to-face. They showed last year’s Lakbay Pag-Asa in Aklan, and this year they are holding their 4th in Palawan. I thought it was the perfect time to take advantage of the opportunity to meet my sponsored child.
I’m writing this post on this blog as it also tackles one aspect of travel – volunteerism. Travel is more than seeing the sights, eating their food but also getting involved in making their community better. As a traveler, we see things in a larger perspective having been to different places. I had a chance to help out on this project by capturing special moments during this trip.
Braving the long weekend crowd, we took a flight to Puerto Princesa, Palawan via Cebu Pacific. On the same day, we were set to meet up with our Sponsored Children. The air was more festive than somber and was filled with excitement inside the El Nido room of the Legend Hotel. One by one the children came in, some were teary-eyed, some were filled with laughter. The last one was my sponsored child Ken. As he came out to the door, I realized everything was indeed real and felt somewhat fulfilled. He looks the same as he do on his pictures even at the age of 13 now.
I was glad he was doing well as I was aware he had health concerns. World Vision prepared a few exercise and challenges for us to get to know more about our sponsored child. World Vision has strict policies regarding contacts with our sponsored child. We were not allowed to give our direct contact information or any gifts without going through the organization, so this was a good time to get to know Ken. I learned why he was named as such, what he likes, his friends, family and his hobbies. No longer is he just a face on an annual report. He’s a real smart and humorous kid growing up quite well under the care of World Vision. The moment was sort of a testament that there really is something happening from the money I’ve been giving every month.
Next: Building a Better Community
To learn more about World Vision visit their site at www.worldvision.org.ph
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.