Patricia lives in one of the crowded slum communities of Santa Mesa, Manila and that is known as breeding ground for thieves, criminals and prostitutes.
The winding path to her home is so narrow that only one person at a time can pass through. Children play and run along the narrow maze of alleyways, throwing rocks at houses, cursing at people and threatening other children. They are noisy, dirty and disrespectful.
Patricia had enough of them and one day decided to do something about it. She decided to teach them the Bible so that they can change their ways. She gathered these rowdy children aged 5 to 10 years old so that she can teach them about Jesus.
Patricia is only 12 years old.
“I teach them about Jesus … so that they can become better children. At first, it was just a teacher-student game but soon I realized that I could actually teach these children for real.”
For two years now, she has taught the children every Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m., with an average of 11 students at a time.
“If they won’t come, I fetch them and tell them they should listen to God’s Word since they’re not doing anything important anyway.”
Patricia doesn’t want to be a teacher or missionary but says, “I will keep on doing this so that (these children) won’t grow up to be criminals.”
Patricia is an average grade six student. She enjoys studying math and wants to be an accountant someday. She and her four siblings, grandmother and parents cram inside a tiny windowless, cement hovel. Her parents have no steady jobs.
During the week, Patricia goes to a nearby public school like most of the children in their neighborhood, but on weekends she gets busy preparing for her “class.”
As a Compassion-sponsored child she goes to the Calvary Foursquare Student Center every Saturday to hear Bible stories, learn practical skills in life and develop good Christian values. This is where she gets her inspiration.
“Whatever I learn at the (student) center I teach my students.
“Last week I learned about Gideon. And so on Sunday afternoon I narrated Gideon’s story to my students and taught them to be brave because of Jesus.”
She also explains that she borrows a friend’s illustrated Bible so that she can show colorful pictures to keep them interested.
Vicky, a caseworker at the student center says they learned about Patricia’s neighborhood class from the mothers.
“The mothers told us there’s this young lady in our neighborhood who is calling together little children so that they can listen to Bible stories.”
Patricia may not know it but people in the community appreciate what she does. A neighbor said, “We are very proud that there’s a young girl like her in our neighborhood. How we wish there were more.”
Student center staffers also admire what she does. Vicky reveals,
“She is a quiet girl. I have known her to be a very responsible child but I had no idea that she is a local missionary in her own neighborhood. I find that amazing.”
Little Danica, one of Patricia’s 6-year-old students, points to Patricia and says, “Yes, she is my teacher. She teaches me about Jesus.”