Several months after the Ninoy & Cory Aquino Leadership Journey, 31 young individuals have decided to put into action the things they have learned from their 3-day leadership retreat. Coming from different provinces in Visayas, they set up a play area in the day care center of Brgy. Tanza, Baybay, Iloilo City, in partnership with the Philippine Toy Library. Setting-up the toy library is just a first step for them. Those based in Iloilo have committed to share their time with the kids through different learning activities. Four of them share their reflections on the deeper meaning of their act of service.
Affirmation through Smiles
Kevin Oanes shares how his experience in setting-up the toy library gave him not only fulfilment but a heightened awareness of other people’s needs: “I believe that we are made by God not to look after ourselves, but to look after the welfare of others. This experience has made me more sensitive to the needs of others. It is really fulfilling deep inside knowing that your efforts are paid back by smiles from these children. Making the children experience childhood through toy-giving is a wonderful opportunity we had. I will never forget this experience.”
Teaching as a Way of Life
For Education student Kams Almonguera, the toy library project is an affirmation of her commitment to teaching: “I found myself dumbfounded for too many reasons. The toy library project is one of a kind. It made me yearn to inspire people with our smiles, to fall on our knees just to keep the faith alive and wholeheartedly work as one to make everything truly a success. Teaching as an act of service is not an easy job, I must say. But for me, it will not be as complicated if you’re committed and you love what you are doing. Teaching exactly is what I have been looking for and the Project Philippine Toy Library is a great opportunity that paved the way for us to teach great lessons in life to young children.”
That One Changing Moment
Raoul Manuel did not expect the immense impact that the toy library provided to the kids of Brgy. Tanza: “I did not realize that a simple visit one morning would turn out to have such significance to the kids. By giving them toys and books, we did not just paint smiles on their faces but also provided an opportunity to influence their early development as individuals. Sharing has always been fun and heartwarming. What a memorable experience!”
Putting up the toy library would impact the lives of the kids of Brgy. Tanza, but little did Anika Tirador know that she too will be affected by their own actions: “Our leadership journey in Cebu last July ended with the reminder that as God loves us, and as we love Him, we are all called to serve. I guess the message of amare et servire just resonated with me. Nothing happens by chance, and it was a great opportunity to build a Philippine Toy Library site at Iloilo City. The whole preparation and setting up was completely worth it once we had the opening. The kids were very excited, and as we were playing together, it struck me how truly great it is to give. I have been extremely blessed throughout my life, and I loved receiving all the blessings, but it was then that I felt even better giving and sharing.
On the other hand, we came prepared to be the ones giving to the community, but just like in most cases, we get much more than what we expected. I did not go home empty handed. I especially loved it when we finally had the time to play with the kids during the program. They found everything awesome, and they were happy with anything that we let them play with. These children, in all their simplicity and humility, taught me to see the world with brighter eyes and with more gratitude.
It was definitely a concrete way to be an agent of God’s love and to serve Him. I only wish that as we continue to visit and play with the kids, we may instill in them values that could help them pay it forward, to be, one day, great agents of God’s love too.”