By: Brinia Pearson
Life is full of special moments.
Moments, that when embraced fully, allow us to share uncontrollable laughter, spark curiosity toward discovery, or fall in love with a cause bigger than ourselves.
I was fortunate enough to experience all of these while volunteering at Pandoo Foundation.
I encountered them for the first time while we were both helping out at a Department of Social Welfare and Development Family Camp. Some may consider our meeting serendipity, but I would consider it a breath of fresh air.
I had been volunteering in the Philippines for seven months prior to that camp, but I didn’t feel at home until I came to their center in Kasambagan to volunteer for the first time. The teachers were all huddled around with children as they enthusiastically facilitated educational games. The youth were so engaged in every activity that I couldn’t help but smile and continue to be drawn in and eventually upstairs to meet the rest of the staff. I was received with nothing short of warmth and a whirlwind of positivity.
If ambition, innovation, and passion could be bottled up and sprayed in the air, the team at Pandoo must have sprayed that every day before my arrival because for the next five months, whether we were painting classrooms, facilitating storytelling out in nearby barangays, or giving back due to natural disasters, I always found myself admiring their unwavering dedication to providing programming and interactions with the youth that would leave an uplifting and lasting impact.
Although said programming was constantly evolving and strategically being updated to further empower the youth, I believe that the personal interactions and seeds that were planted every day, were what ultimately set the tone, and kept the youth, and I as a volunteer, coming back, wanting to be a part of Pandoo Foundation.
The environment was magical because at any moment, you could witness a child’s mind being opened to new ideas, whether it was hearing them utilize a new vocabulary word, or a shy youth offering their opinion for the first time. There was no denying the infectious laughter that would fill the center as the youth would move their bodies mirroring their Zumba instructor’s choreography; or the smiles on their little faces as they stood on their tippy toes looking in the windows of the center, proud, because their parents were attending the parent’s night of a center they loved.
Witnessing these moments were invigorating and brought together the perfect mosaic of individuals who wanted to experience change and empowerment in others and in themselves. Although I have returned to the United States, I will always appreciate Pandoo Foundation for allowing me to serve and witness all of the magic that happens there.
I will forever be proud, supportive, and “looking in the window” with a smile as they continue to create special moments that empower youth daily. Just like the young children standing outside of the window that night.