Dearest supporters of Bukas Palad Cebu,

Warmest greetings to each one of you!

Thanks for all the messages and letters that you sent as an answer to the letters of our students last December. It’s very touching how we are linked by love which binds us together despite the distance in this unique family. Here is the usual mid-year updating on the activity of the Social Center of Bukas Palad Cebu.

We start from last Christmas 2015. During the whole month of December, every weekend, the Center is filled up with gifts and packs, and celebrations for the children from different areas surrounding Bukas Palad. The program was prepared by some students and parents together with the staff of Bukas Palad. Gifts were distributed to the children and bags of provisions to the families in particular for the Christmas meal. Songs, dramas, games, and dances also contributed to the festive family atmosphere.

At the end of January, a “Team building” activity was held with the animator’s group. Most of them are new members, therefore the objective was to grow in reciprocal knowledge and motivation to work together at the service of SAAD students. Through the games and work by groups prepared by the “Senior” members, each student was able to acquire self confidence and trust in others. Everyone chose in what way they can help concretely with their own talent, to come up with the program for the on going meetings of the SAAD students such as: ideas for the games, for the presentations, help for the technical part of the photo and video, for the preparation of the snacks etc. Now this group is the protagonist in bringing ahead the activities of the monthly meetings organized for all SAAD students, in collaboration with Bukas Palad staff. The monthly spiritual and human formation for the student continues, with the Word of Life taken from the Gospel and sharing of experiences. In the meeting of February, a mother shared her experience on how she was pushed to work outside the country in order to sustain her family, and the big difficulty in facing her workplace, and how she was able to overcome it, thanks to her faith in God and the help of some of her friends. This concrete experience helped the students to open their hearts to the struggles and sufferings of those Filipinos working abroad.

In April, a good number of students joined the Mariapolis (a summer gathering promoted by the Focolare Movement for participants of all ages). They met many young people of their age from other islands, and different social conditions. Seeing them together was a joy, because you cannot see the difference between the rich and the poor. Unity built remains!

Celebration for the graduates. After the closing of the school year, the group of animators prepared a surprise party for the eleven college SAAD graduates. It was really a surprise for them when entering blindfolded, accompanied with an applause and lighted candles along the way, there was a video message for each one from their parents, who expressed what they have in their hearts for their son or daughter. Everyone had tears in their eyes!

Here’s a thanksgiving letter from Andrew, graduated in Education for elementary school: “When I entered the SAAD program I was in high school. I was very shy, I didn’t talk to anyone. Only until when I entered college did I realize that my family in Bukas Palad was amazing. I felt the love and care they have for me. I started to change my relationship with them, from being a passive scholar who will just listen to their monthly meetings, to an active member of the animators’ group, who is motivated and inspired in reaching the concerns of each and every SAAD student. And even though I was busy with college studies, I was motivated seeing the glittering eyes of other SAAD students looking at us, surprised of what we are doing for them. A nd this is such an unforgettable experience! I’ve experienced difficulties/challenges in my college years, specifically my research and practicum days, but with thewords of wisdom and enlightenment of my Bukas Palad family, I was able to overcome all the hardships because of their presence. Thanks to all the staff of Bukas Palad who believed in me and my capacity. And thanks to my benefactors who were always present in these years, without them this amazing journey of mine would not be possible. Thank you so much for you had given me an opportunity to know myself and my abilities, to inspire others, to work for others and be part of such wonderful experience in my life”.

Summer activities. During summer, besides sport activities, baking workshop, artistic cards making, singing group, guitar lessons, a workshop which is particularly innovative took place: a Film Making Workshop!! Thanks to the generosity of a young professional of this field, Gregorio Rodriguez III, who volunteered to come over from Manila and to work with our group of students. Something never imagined before became real! The students were involved for one week of hard work, theories and practical trainings. At the end, they themselves were able to produce a short video documentation with interviews among the students that highlight difficulties and challenges they have to face in life, because of poverty or broken family or other, but also their dreams, the desire to go beyond trials, and the gratitude to the great family of Bukas Palad.

Here are some impressions after the workshop: “The film making workshop has been a beautiful experience. I thought that it’s plainly a matter of video camera, computer and others. Instead, we have discovered something. Before the workshop we were not so close among us, but during the days of the workshop we became closer to one another. During the activity, even though it was hard work to put together all the materials we had filmed, we were able to do the task that has been assigned, but above all love and unity among us has also increased. The most beautiful thing that I have lived in those days were the experiences shared, and to understand that even though we face struggle, trials and challenges in our lives, we don’t give up but we believe that we can make it. God is always there”.

“The summer workshop of Film making has been an inspiration to dream of a better world. It was a fortune and a privilege to take part of this group. It was my first time to do such a thing, and I had no resentments. Although it was very intense and the time was short, I have learned a lot. Through the activities I understood what it means to be responsible, to give my best, it’s a choice, that makes me feel the real meaning of what I am doing. A better future! At least, I have already the basic, and what I understood will guide me while I go ahead with my studies in Business Management.”

Lastly, outreach activities were done, to visit a home for the aged, an orphanage, and feeding program for the children of a poor area.

“For me, Bukas Palad is my second family, I was happy to participate in the summer workshops. In the outreach activities I was happy because I was able to serve many persons, especially the aged one in the house “Gift of Love”. I felt compassion for them looking at their difficult situation, and that they don’t have a family that takes care of them. I have met a n old man named “Alberto” who was a little bit in good health. When we went for the second time he was not there anymore, and they told me that he died. I cried! I understood that in life our relationship with others is very important, to be with them and to share their life. Thank you”.

This is all for the first part of the year. We will be updating you through our Christmas letter that will bring news particularly of the student you sustain and his/her annual letter.

A heartfelt thanks to each one of you, for all your kind efforts to support this project: you are our partners in working for a better future of these young people, poor in material things, but rich of dreams, aspirations and good will.

‘Till our next updates!

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