One of the desired outcomes of our programs is to equip children for life. This is a very important commitment to families who struggle each day to get by.
There are 295 sponsored children living in the community of Bagong Barrio, Philippines, and almost all of their parents have irregular, low-paying jobs.
“Many have jobs, but mostly temporary employment as factory workers, vendors and jeepney drivers.
“This is not a peaceful place to live in. There are drunks everywhere. They create noise and a lot of stir. This is also a popular dumpsite for murder victims. Taxi drivers hesitate to drive through here because we have a notorious reputation.
“A taxi driver was recently killed by gang members. There are many drug users here. The root of all of these, of course, is poverty,” says Arnel, pastor of the Community Gospel Church.
The pastor himself used to be a neighborhood bully. He would terrorize people passing through the narrow, dark and damp alleyways of Bagong Barrio. But now he is serving the Lord.
This church has been a partner of Compassion in the Philippines since 1986. Through Paglinang Student Center, the church provides vocational training to sponsored youth as one way of equipping them for life.
“Our objective is that before (the sponsored children) leave the center, they should have something to fall back on for their daily living,” said Liza, child development worker and youth facilitator for Paglinang Student Center. “Not all of them can go to college, and not all of those who do make it to college can land a good-paying job.”
Liza handles 18- to 21-year-old sponsored youth. She is in charge of coming up with ideas for vocational training. This Saturday, she has decided to teach them how to prepare dishwashing liquid, detergent soap and hand sanitizer.
Every Saturday, all 295 sponsored children come to the center for their weekly learning, training and discipleship. The older kids are scheduled in the afternoon.
“Before, our youth did not fully appreciate their vocational activities, which used to mainly focus on arts and crafts. Now, we have begun doing what interests them and what can potentially help them earn some money as they become responsible adults.”
Liza personally loves arts and crafts activities and claims that she first learned to appreciate them when she was still a sponsored child.
For today’s vocational training, she has coordinated with Swak na Swak Pangkabuhayan, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that trains young Filipinos how to start and run a small, manageable business. Liza attended a training seminar with the NGO, paid a capital of P2,400 (U.S. $55.80) for the materials, and was now ready to teach the sponsored youth.
She hoped to make 100 to 120 bottles of hand sanitizer today and would challenge the young people to sell them and experience how to earn money on their own.
Her students arrived at 3 p.m. and they were surprised to see bottles and pails containing blue liquid substance. Liza instructed what to do and explained that dishwashing liquid, detergent soap and hand sanitizer are easy to prepare and very marketable.
In the meantime, other sponsored children also had their own vocational training classes. The younger youth, 12 to 17 years old, were busy learning how to make Christmas decorations for sale.
“The idea is to teach these children how to make a feasibility study, finish a project and earn possible income,” said Gina, center director for Paglinang Student Center.
Separated into three classes according to age, sponsored children learned how much the materials for the Christmas decorations cost, where they were bought, how to make the decorations, how much and where they can sell the decorations, and how much profit they can make.
“It is important for us to learn how to do these things,” said Kathleen. “I want to learn how to use my time wisely and not just spend it playing and hanging around.”
Kathleen wants to run a restaurant business someday. She said she can now earn a little money from fixing cell phones, a skill she has learned from the student center.
“We have had so many activities in the center, such as camps, talent festivals, and sporting events,” said Kathleen, “but one of my favorite activities is learning how to make things.”
Gilbert also appreciated their activity today. He said, “This is good so that we can have an idea how to find a job and possibly to start a business someday.”
Across the rooms where these young people worked on their crafts is the kitchen where three sponsored youth were cooking spaghetti. One of them, Nica, explained that cooking was their assigned vocational task for today. Nica is aspiring to become a chef one day. Her task for today was to cook delicious spaghetti and feed all the other sponsored children.
“We hope that these youth will find employable, real-life applications for all that we teach them.
“We make vocational and skills training intentional. We provide skills-development training in computer technology, electronics and other areas,” says Gina.
Liza believes that the dishwashing liquid, detergent soap and hand sanitizer are easy to make and could give the youth a good chance to earn a few pesos for their families. And Mariela, one of Liza’s students, agreed.
“I think these products are very sellable. I will definitely try to make them on my own and sell them. Actually, I have already planned to start a business on something along this line, linen softener. They are affordable, easy to do, and sellable.”