Noela’s Journey of Hope

Story and photos by Pastora Lorna Eguia, Sapangdaku Hope Center Director, in collaboration with Babylene Bocayes, Philippines Field Communications Specialist

Noela, 8, has been part of the OneChild program for five years now. She has experienced many milestones while in the program, including a special visit from her sponsor. Enjoy this photo essay of Noela’s journey!

Noela and her family in the Philippines.

Meet Noela. She was born in 2014, and she is the second-eldest child in her family.

She has two siblings, Nichole, her older sister, and Prince Noah, her baby brother.

She loves dancing, reading, arts and crafts, and helping others.

At the age of 3, Noela was registered in the OneChild program Sapangdaku Hope Center started in 2017.

It was a big blessing for their family.

Noela’s family lives in Cebu, Philippines, where poverty is rampant. According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Cebu has the highest number of poor households in the region. This means families are living below the poverty threshold, which is around the equivalent of $240 per family per month.

Noela’s family falls far below this threshold. While both of her parents work hard as day laborers, they only earn around $110 a month. Her father, Noel, works as a motorcycle driver while her mother, Bernadeth, earns money making and selling puso, a rice dish.

Thankfully, Noela is part of the OneChild program where she receives many benefits.

Many mothers in the Sapangdaku community make puso as their livelihood. Puso is a unique method of cooking rice that is popular in Cebu. It is a single serving of rice cooked in a small woven pouch made of coconut leaves. Puso translates to “heart” in the local language because the pouch is shaped like a heart.

Noela’s mom, left, weaves coconut leaves into a small pouch that will hold rice to cook.

As early as 4, Noela learned to make puso. She and her sister help their mother with this small livelihood.

Sapangdaku Hope Center is passionate about training its kids to become confident in life by giving them opportunities to discover their skills and talents and helping them put these to use. One skill that Noela and other kids have learned is teaching visitors how to make a puso. This activity has been a constant in showcasing the talents of the children, including music, sports, and reading, during special events.

Noela, left, and her sister learned how to make puso at a young age.

 

In this photo, Noela, third from right, is 8 years old and in third grade. She loves math and art class.

Through OneChild, Noela receives support for her education. During the two-year COVID pandemic, her Child Champions took the time to tutor her via video calls. This helped her keep up with her learning.

When classes returned to face-to-face, she was excited, especially when she received her new set of school supplies from the Hope Center.

Noela loves doing art activities at her Hope Center.

Noela also enjoys a lot of activities at the Hope Center, especially arts and crafts. In 2022, the Hope Center had a Summer Bucket List program where kids got to do fun activities like painting and clay making.

A Child Champion reads to a young Noela.

Noela enjoys reading. She joined the Reading Lab, an intervention program at the Hope Center for kids having reading challenges. Thanks to her Child Champions, who sit down with her to read a book.

Children learn fundamental things in the Hope Center like knowing their rights.

Noela is blessed that her Child Champions acknowledge their rights by giving them a lot of opportunities for learning and growing physically, socio-emotionally, academically, and spiritually.

Here, 6-year-old Noela receives a cake with her name on it as part of their celebration of Children’s Month in 2020.

Every year Shine, a baker and a Child Champion at Sapangdaku Hope Center, bakes 100 little cakes with the name of each child at the center on each piece. What a special way to make a child feel known and loved!

Noela, her sister Nichole at left, and her Hope Center Director wait to meet her sponsor at the airport.

During Noela’s fifth year in the Hope Center, she received wonderful news! Her sponsor would be traveling to the Philippines to visit her.

When the day of the visit had arrived, Noela, her sister Nichole, and Hope Center Director Lorna Eguia went to the airport to hold “welcome” signs, waiting for the arrival of her sponsor. Before coming to the airport, they prayed and hoped that their meeting would be fun and memorable.

Noela meets her sponsor, Mr. Richard.

Sponsor Mr. Richard and Noela finally met.

As they sat down at a restaurant, they exchanged stories about each other’s families, with Director Lorna serving as their interpreter. Noela was so happy to see her sponsor and to learn that Mr. Richard’s family loves her and is always praying for her.

Her eyes twinkled even more with excitement when Mr. Richard gave her a bagful of gifts. There were crayons, markers, candies, and toys she never thought she would have.

Director Lorna and Noela marvel at all the gifts she received from her sponsor.

According to Director Lorna, “Noela was so happy and showed her gifts to her friends, neighbors, and classmates. She always recalls the fond memories she had during the visit.”

Noela has many more years to spend at the Hope Center. And so far, in five years, she has shown positive changes like being more confident in what she can do, has become more responsible in doing household chores like cooking rice and cleaning the house, and actively joins all the activities at the Hope Center.

She has become more friendly not only to other sponsored kids but also to other kids in her community by inviting them to join in activities. Having this kind of hopeful disposition, we see a promising future for Noela.

Thanks to Noela’s Child Champions like Ate Faith, Ate Raine, and Director Lorna who are always there for her every step of the way. And of course, to Mr. Richard, her sponsor, for being committed to giving her a chance to have a better life.


Many kids are waiting to have their own sponsor. Sponsor a child today!

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