Child Champions in the Philippines are putting into practice the idea that “If there is a will, there is a way.” Their love for children and passion for teaching has compelled them to find ways to reach out to children in the hard places during this pandemic. One Hope Center is using puppetry via Facebook live on Sunday mornings to teach the Word of God to kids who can’t come to the program due to the pandemic. There is also a Hope Center using Facebook to post a video of their Sunday School program. Here is a story of how Lingap ng Puso Hope Center shifted their face-to-face learning program for children to online video content.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines has forced children and adults alike to stay at home for half the year now. Although the government is starting to ease restrictions on going outside, children, together with the elderly, are still not allowed to go out as they are considered the most vulnerable to the virus. The realities in urban poor communities are not ideal.
“The parents, they let their children play outside without any protection like a facemask,” Emmanuelle Refogio, a teacher in Lingap ng Puso Hope Center says, describing the situation of children in their community. More than half the country’s COVID-19 cases are found in the National Capital Region, the heart of urban poor communities, where this Hope Center is located. As health risks are high, Eman acknowledges also a risk to mental health: “For children to be traumatized, you put them in isolation. Imagine the effect of this situation on kids.”
According to Hope Center Director Geraldine Aguilar, known as Ate Ghie, people in their communities cannot avoid going outside because, first, they have nothing to eat due to the loss of jobs, so they try to look for other means, and second, they get bored inside their cramped and humid houses. “The kids get frustrated, but they are resilient. So, they go out to play,” Geraldine says.
Child Champions at Lingap ng Puso Hope Center are passionate about finding ways to continue teaching children during the pandemic.
Hope Centers in the New Normal
Nowadays, the Lingap ng Puso Hope Center has become a go-to place for relevant news as Child Champions could not hold any activities yet. “They go here in the center to ask for advice about current events like online enrollment because they could not understand as the articles are mostly in English,” Eman said. Parents are struggling to cope as education has shifted online. Thank God that Child Champions in the Hope Center are there to assist parents in this transition to a new normal. Aside from ensuring parents they can enroll their children in school, Child Champions have found a way to go back to teaching the children.
Teacher Anna Matriano is not in a conventional classroom but is still able to do what she loves to do – teach the children. “We are thankful for our sponsors for helping the kids. I know the children will be grateful that their sponsors did not give up on them even in the midst of pandemic.”
A creative mind can lead to innovation. Here is an improvised camera and mic stand made of PVC pipes built by Child Champions to deliver quality educational content to children.
After several months of doing relief operations to provide food and sanitary supplies to registered children in the program, Child Champions wanted to re-engage the children to continue learning while at home. What started as a conversation over lunch turned into developing the concept for an online learning program. The concept was to create videos that contain their usual singing songs, praying, reading Bible stories, and making arts and crafts.
Several social media platforms were considered, but they decided to use YouTube since it is easier for families to access using their mobile phones. “I am blessed to have Child Champions who are knowledgeable on the technical side,” Ate Ghie says. “On our first shoot, we finished two episodes.”
The first episode was launched on August 4, 2020. “The kids are happy to see us on TV,” teacher Anna Matriano says. “It is inspiring! That despite the pandemic, we try to excel by creating more educational content,” Ate Ghie says. In their future videos, they will create tutorials using puppetry. For Ate Ghie, it is one of God’s ways for them to fulfill their vision of establishing the Hope Center as a resource center for supplemental learning materials that children can access without even leaving their homes.
Each Child Champion has contributed talents, skills, and even monetary resources to serve the children at OneChild Hope Centers.
Nothing Can Stop a God-Given Vision
With the limitation of the Child Champions’ movement in the community in this time of the pandemic, using an online platform is the best option to connect with the children and their families to keep each one’s safety in check. “We want to help, but we also want to adhere to the health protocols of the government,” Ate Ghie says. The bigger picture is that these Child Champions are pushing to be creative because of their commitment to teaching and love for the children in their care. Ate Ghie says, “We feel supported by OneChild because they appreciate our ideas. It gives us the freedom to be creative.” Eman adds, “If you know that this is the ministry that the Lord gave you, nothing can stop you, not even this pandemic.”