Saturday, May 31, 2014

My Teacher Heart Breaks

I know that it's hard for all of our USA friends to think about Back to School---tuition, book fees, technology fees, school supplies, and uniforms!  But that is what we are knee deep in right now here in the Philippines since their school year runs from June to mid-March.

I know that back to school time is dreaded by parents---the school fees and the cost of school supplies, uniforms, shoes, etc. causes much anxiety.  It's the same here.  The only difference is that, here, some parents have to decide how many children they can afford to send to school this year.  Yes, you read that correctly!  It's not about what brand or how many pairs of something you can afford.  It's how many of your kids can you afford to enroll this year.

Often times the older kids have to drop out so that the younger ones coming up can begin school or in order to get a job to help support the family.  Many of the kids in the poor villages only get to finish elementary school (6th grade) if they even get to attend at all.  It is a great privilege for the poor to get to attend high school and an even greater accomplishment to actually graduate high school.  And for most of these kids, college is only a far off dream.

What makes this even worse is that the all the kids WANT to go to school.  They WANT to learn.  They WANT an education.  They WANT a better life for their family.  This is heartbreaking to me, a teacher, to see how hungry these kids are for an education and know that some will never have the funds available to go.  It also pains me to know just how many American students are throwing away the education opportunities that so many here would give anything for. 

The past two weeks God has sent so many people to our gate asking for help.  Some needed help paying last year’s fees in order to enroll their kids this year. Some needed help paying this year's fees.  Most needed help purchasing school supplies and uniforms.  They came asking for help and offering their services to us in return---washing our clothes, working at our work projects, cleaning our house or yard.  Most of the ones that come to our gate aren’t looking for a handout; they just want a little piece of hope for their children’s future.

I feel that this is one of the many reasons God sent our family to this particular mission post---to help break that cycle of poverty by helping to educate the poor.  I felt a little jealous of the single missionaries that were sent to Camguin, another island in the Philippines, when I found out they were going to be teaching at the local Catholic high school.  I miss teaching. Not the paperwork nonsense, but the actual teaching and making a difference part.  But God had other plans for the "teacher" in me.

God began to send all these hungry kids to our gate not long after we arrived.  At first I thought they were all hungry for food.  But as I began to get to know each one of these kids, I've learned that they are hungry for so much more.  They were hungry for love and affection.  They were hungry for knowledge,
from English and Math to Jesus and the Bible!  They asked for their own bible study when we couldn't fit all of them on the motorella to go to our Thursday night bible study in a neighboring barangay.  They would sit with me for hours drilling math facts and playing spelling games. 

During our "tutoring" time, they began to share their dreams with me---their dreams of going to college, getting a good job, and supporting their parents so they wouldn't have to work and suffer so much.  Some dream of going to the USA to make lots of money to send back to their families here.  Yes, a few wanted to get a good job and have nice things, but every one of them wants to be able to help their families (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) have a better life.  

We have talked to them about praying and asking God to help their families.  We talked about how God hears the prayers of children and how much He loves them.  They have responded by showing up for morning prayer at our house to pray for their families and showing up at our gate to join us for Mass on Sunday evenings.  The best part is that the kids are beginning to see changes in their own families.  They know God is listening.   Now, they are waiting for their prayer for a school sponsor to be answered.

The past two weeks have been so overwhelming.  They were probably the most exhausting weeks we've had so far here.  We were gone so much that our own kids forgot what we looked like.  But the look on this fourteen year old's face when he put on his new uniform and new shoes and went to school for the first time in 6 years, makes it all worth it.

If you'd like to help kids like Joshua attend school, please email us at  We have many others who are in need of a school sponsor.  Or make a donation to our school supply fund online at Just type Avinca/Isla School Supply Fund in the comment box. 

1 comment:

  1. So sad...praying for all of these kids to have the opportunity to go to school.