By: Em Gamboa
Over the course of our foundation's growth, we've been asked a number of times, “What exactly do you do? Are you sure you are making an impact?”
Normally, we would respond with clear answers and concrete examples, but, as with any start up, the words “we're not sure” would pop in our minds once in a while. What we were sure of though is that we want to make a difference to the communities and kids that we work with.
Sometimes there are days when I doubt what we do, but because of the little but big things that I see and experience, my heart is automatically recharged and I push through. Same as the story that I'm about to tell you.
A long, long time ago, and by long I mean two years, our founder and her friends met this little girl out on the street. She was charming, cheeky and cute. Automatically, everyone's hearts were won.
The more they worked with her, the more they learned about her family and friends. They also learned that this little girl wasn't going to school. She was smart, everyone could see it. All she needed was a little help and some guidance. Through the creation of the Pandoo Club, she started receiving this guidance and everyone started to see the changes!
At first we could see she felt entitled to everything. Then, we could see that she was starting to understand and was trying very hard to learn how to be part of a new “family.” And then through constant teachings and reminders, we started to see results. She started to share! It's a neglected gesture by adults, but, for kids who barely have anything, she was literally sharing everything that she had. It was a genuine and beautiful gesture.
A few months after, she started joining group activities and mingling successfully with the other kids. We could also see positive changes with the other kids. Sharing, helping and respecting one another. It wasn't perfect but it was there and they were starting to understand.
The best part that almost had us in tears was when she knocked on our office door. At first we thought she wanted some attention so we were in teacher mode. But, we noticed she was holding her report card and acting all shy. When we realized that she wanted us to see her grades we were dumbfounded. First grading, she barely passed her subjects. Second grading it went up, and then on the third grading, her grades were way beyond the passing marks and she was considered for the science class. We were so proud of her!
Our job may be thankless sometimes, but it is little victories like this that make our work worthwhile. If we didn't continue trying for this little girl, she would not have been able to muster up the courage or get the opportunity to accomplish these things.
People might say it's not enough or it's futile, but for us, even if we only touch the lives of a few, at least we tried and still made a difference.