Empowering Kids as Volunteers

Story and photos by Rhea Juson, Philippines Program Adviser

A OneChild registered boy in the Philippines learns about leadership through volunteering in his community as he transitions from child to Child Champion.

“Even though we are kids, we need to pray harder to God,” Mark Anthony says.

One of the goals of Sapandaku Hope Center in Cebu, Philippines, is to empower children as community volunteers and eventually leaders. Pastor Joey Eguia together with his wife Pastora Lorna Eguia and their team of Child Champions are passionate about involving parents and registered children as volunteers.

One of the volunteers is Mark Anthony, a 13-year-old student in seventh grade. He is the eldest son of Neil and Tessie Quijano, who are entrepreneurs living in poverty. They sell food items in front of their house to make ends meet.

Mark’s routine as a volunteer is to gather the sponsored kids for their weekly classes. He also walks around the neighborhood to remind parents of the online meetings and classes. Mark’s house is one of the drop-off points of study materials for other families. Consequently, Mark eagerly leads youths in distributing food and learning materials each week.

“I love to volunteer because helping other people brings the best in me,” Mark says.

He’s not yet sure exactly what he wants to do in life, but he does want to do something that involves sustainability in the community, such as planting vegetables. He feels that it is his calling to help.

“I really feel great each time I extend help to other people,” he says.

According to Pastora Lorna, the Hope Center director, “Mark is very attentive, especially in our Zoom meetings. One time, I was surprised when I asked him what he learned from our previous lesson, and he quickly answered and sent me his notes.”

Mark Anthony’s New Year’s resolutions are centered on cultivating his faith in God.

Mark is goal-oriented and focused. He is a mature young man, and he attributes that to his faith in God as his Lord and Savior.

One of the programs at Sapangdaku Hope Center is R.E.A.D.S, which stands for Reading, Exploring, Advancing in the Digital Space. The kids read books that inspire them to survive and thrive, even in the most challenging times such as with the COVID-19 pandemic. Activities include book reading and sharing lessons learned online individually or in small groups.

Mark is an inspiring young man, discipled by the church. At a young age he is actively engaged in community service because the church has done its part to disciple and inspire him to be a volunteer. It is a blessing to behold a registered child transitioning early as a child leader and community helper.

Indeed, the work of our ministry partner in Sapangdaku is never in vain because they are seeing fruits of their labor, one child at a time. Mark’s case is strong evidence that a registered child can transition early from a child to a Child Champion.

If you’d like to help kids in hard places, like Mark, sponsor a child today!

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