St. Martin de Porres, Bustos, Bulacan, Philippines, June 2009
Summer at St. Martin de Porres
In some quarters, summer is synonymous with a long lazy antidote to the hectic school-year routine. While the children of St. Martin de Porres are as happy as the next kid to close the chapter on another school year, there is nothing lazy about their summer holidays. And that, says SMDP Founder Father Boyet, is precisely the point: “Central to the children’s healing is keeping them very busy and engaged in productive activities that they both learn from and enjoy.” In fact given the whirlwind of bible study, summer camp, tutoring, and vocational training that was the SMDP children’s summer holiday, they were probably a bit relieved to get back to their desks when the new 2009-10 school year began on June 8. Below, the high points of a summer chock-full of …
On April 3, the children concluded the school year with a graduation celebration at their school, Liceo de Bethlehem, in Baliuag, Bulacan. Thirteen SMDP kids were among the graduating sixth grade class and one of them, Alexander Pine, took home the Writer of the Year Award. The children’s learning continued outside the classroom via the English and math tutoring they all received as well as a first aid and basic life support course that the Red Cross administered at St. Martin from May 13-15. Five of SMDP’s eldest boys and two house parents took the training as well as the final exam required for certification.
In late April, SMDP’s 8-12-year olds traveled to Gueco Balibago Elementary School in Angeles City, Pampanga, for a six-day summer camp, where they got to meet and befriend many children just like them from other missions in Bulacan and Pampanga. In addition to offering a rich slate of arts and craft activities, the camp organizers also organized a diverse array of cultural festivities, from Mardi Gras to a mini Olympics. That exposure to the rich world beyond St. Martin and the many new friendships formed made for many a tearful good-bye on the last day of camp.
Thanks to the kindness of artist Luis Castro, nine of the older boys got their art education without having to leave St. Martin. For four hours each day, Luis taught a course in drawing and watercolor painting, which those who showed the most promise will continue to take each Saturday.
Education, both spiritual and academic, is core to life in St. Martin. At the very end of the school year, Sr. Ma. Jocelyn C. Leonor, HDW (Sr. Joy) lead a two-day overview of the Bible study as well as a hands-on exposure to its most important lessons. By having them reenact many of the most sacred fables, the children mined the Bible for insights they then used to make sense of their own life experiences.
To help them work through the inevitable challenges of living and working with one another, two team-building events were held in May. The children enjoyed the chance to learn more about themselves as well as the chance to identify strategies they can employ to collaborate more effectively within the group settings they are a part of now and those of their even brighter futures.
All the St. Martin programs have one ultimate objective: preparing the children for happy and healthy self-sufficiency. During their holiday, they were taught many skills that will make their ultimate return to society successful. Via the Sikap (Filipino for strive) Program, 15 children were invited to apprentice at various local businesses, including a restaurant, motorcycle repair shop, and clinic. Nine other SMDP children, ages 15-18, were enrolled in a 436-hour commercial cooking class, which taught them everything they’d need to know to some day become a restaurant worker. Those too young to apprentice or receive the formal food-service training were taught to make floor mats, crocheted bags, and even chocolate, a skill all of them were very eager to acquire!
2009 JDVSF BOARD VISIT
In late April 2009, JDVSF Founding Chairman Lizelle Salvador, Founding Director & Vice Chair Carmelita H. Salvador, Executive Director Operations Ellen Goodridge, and Executive Secretary Hayley Callahan visited St. Martin de Porres Children’s Village.
There, in part, to review current construction, the Board members toured the site now being prepared for the construction of the multi-purpose dining/assembly hall that the JDVSF will be adding to the St. Martin de Porres Children’s Village this year. They also had the chance to meet Nellou Nierva, the new social worker who’s now living at St. Martin to help the children with their ongoing adjustment to life in a safe and settled home environment.
Returning to SMDP some two years after her first visit, Ellen was greatly impressed by the progress made. “The transformation is astonishing. SMDP now feels like a permanent and warm home for the children.”