Thursday, April 29, 2010

Things I live for.

Yesterday, I was walking along the shore when one of the kids from another NGO (Share a Child)said, "Ate, ang ganda mo naman." So I turned around (ang kapal eh noh, feeling ako yung sinasabihan, hahaha), and I saw this really charming little girl with long wavy hair. Her name, I found out later, is Cathy. Another little girl from the same NGO came to me. Her name is Maria Cristina. We chatted for a while, and then, they hugged me. I melted. Right then and there. A little while later, some of the other kids from Share a Child approached us as well.

I love how outgoing they are, how they are not afraid of strangers, and how easy it is for them to give out a hug. Many good things happened this week, but that moment is undoubtedly the topnotcher. Not because I received praise, but because I got hugged. By kids who barely know me. Last night, while the different teams were presenting, I saw them again. And they recognized me. And hugged me, for the second time around. The third one was this morning. I hope to visit their center one of these days, before I leave for Manila.

I'll post their picture next time. You'll see how adorable they look. And they know how to strike a pose, mind you. You'll see :)

I don't get to be with kids their age. The "children" under Freelava's care are not really kids anymore. Their ages range from 13-18. But during the four days that I have been with them, I have grown to love them. I have two younger brothers, and now, I feel like I have 20+ of them. I'm really looking forward to our next bonding session with them. Jori (my co-intern) and I already have a cool activity for them in mind.

As you might notice, we're not really doing much of the law-related stuff. But at least, we get exposed to their situation. As for me, I just want to enjoy this summer, whether or not I get enough exposure to alternative law practice. The research we're tasked to do and the life skills module revision are more psych-related than law-related. I'm actually pressured since they are expecting a lot, after they found out I graduated with a degree in Psychology. Honestly, it bothered me at first. I want to do more law-related stuff. But during the summer camp, I came to the realization that this is not about me. This is about them. On my part, I just ought to learn as much as I could from the experience, no matter what they may be.

During the summer camp, I enjoyed teasing the boys about their crushes. At the same time, I cherished the fact that they were opening up. It also made me feel good that our being there to watch them during their basketball games and other activities made them feel good. And I loved volunteering to serve them, whenever they line up for their food. I would love to share more about those boys, but the internet shop is about to close. In a nutshell, I am enjoying being their "ate" :)

Saturday, April 24, 2010


It's been more than two weeks since I left home for this internship. Four days in Tagaytay for the basic orientation seminar (BOS, a week with the Iraya Triba in Oriental Mindoro, the sendoff dinner at Ateneo, and then, this internship.We got home around 10 or so in the evening last Sunday. Then, after less than 12 hours, I left for Cebu. I barely got to spend a day with my family. That was unfortunate, but growing girls need time to be away and get out of their comfort zones, right?

So many rhealizations since Day 1 of the BOS. Especially during the week-long immersion. A lot of rich experiences, as well. I don't really have much time now. In less than two hours (it's past 1 in the afternoon, as I am typing this), we will be meeting with our friend here in Cebu. He said he knows the supplier where the people who participate in bazaars get their stuff, and that we can buy what we want, even if we're not wholesale buyers. Isn't that awesome? :D

I'll tell you guys about what happened during the BOS, immersion, and the first week of internship some other time. For now, I'll share what we'll be doing in the next few days :) Tomorrow, even if there's no work, we'll be visiting Balay Pasilungan (it's a center/shelter for children in conflict with the law), as per the request of our boss. We've bonded with a couple of them, but there are still a good number of them who we haven't met yet since they were allowed to go home for a vacation. Sir said it's better if we take the time to get to know them this Sunday, since on Monday, we'll be joining them on our way to Badjan (beach/falls), for the week-long summer camp. We won't have much to do next week other than to process the activities the kids participate in (note: don't be fooled; when we say "kids," we mean 13-18 year old teens), bond with the kids and with the staff of our host agency (Freelava), and chill. But instead of staying there for a week, we'll leave early (on the fourth day) to accompany two of the boys back home since they have to attend a hearing the following day. Jori (my co-intern) and I volunteered to attend the court hearing with them, and to help them out in whatever way we can. Tomorrow we'll ask Ate Tata (the resident social worker at Balay Pasilungan) regarding the case of those two boys so we can read up on relevant info. And then, we'll also be part of a research project :D Hello, Psych 118. You are v. much useful here. I love Psych and I love the fact that I get to use my psych background in my work now, as a law intern. We'll also be working with Lore, the intern from Belgium who has a Masters Degree in Criminology. And then, we'll also revise the Life Skills module of LiSu. LiSu is a program under Freelava, initiated by CICLs and CAROs themselves (CICL = children in conflict with the law; CARO = children at risk of offending). Just a while ago, we attended a meeting with the LiSu project manager and the youth leaders of LiSu. Sir Richard (the project manager) wanted some OD work. I suggested and explained the household structure I learned from YFC. I think it is very much apt for the children in LiSu, especially the one-on-ones, for follow-up purposes, and also so that their organization would be more personal in character. In this way, it will be easier for the children to identify themselves with the organization and the organization's goals, and also share their experiences and what they are going through. It also serves as a way for the leaders to monitor what's happening to the members and, inasmuch as possible, remedy the situation when they see that a member seems to be falling back to his or her old ways, or is tempted to commit an offense. Luckily, one of the founding members of LiSu who was present at the meeting is also a member of Youth for Christ. He agreed that the household system would indeed be a good addition to LiSu's structure. Come to think of it, the things we do per se are actually normal stuff. Research? We did a lot of that in college. Organizational Development? I had three orgs in college, and we discuss that from time to time. But what makes this one feel special and a lot more challenging is the fact that it affects the lives of so many other individuals who are considered vulnerable members of society.

In some way, I'm also saddened by the fact that I know I can contribute so much more,if only I could properly remember everything I learned in college and put them all together to apply to the real-life situations we are facing now. I wish I have my Psych books and reading materials with me now.

As for the law-related stuff, we haven't done anything which is at least paralegal in nature yet. But yesterday, during the Board Meeting, Atty. Paredes (the Chairperson of the Board) asked us if we could help critique new laws. She only mentioned it in passing. But I would very much love to do more law-related stuff. It was the first time we met her yesterday. I don't know when we'll meet her again. But I hope she tells Sir Toni (our big boss at the office) about that.

Admittedly, I'm overwhelmed. Freelava, small as our office is, does a lot of big projects that affects a lot of people. FYI, some parts of the Juvenile Justice Act was patterned after some of the works of Freelava. By the way, Freelava is an NGO that advocates children's rights; more specifically, it caters to children in conflict with the law.

We have spent a number of days at Balay Pasilungan. And you know, despite the cases pending before them and their past, I never felt that I was around criminals. More than anything, I sensed the kindness in their hearts. It's hard to understand, I know. But feelings are not really meant to be understood. They are just felt.

Anyway, I'll fly home on May 8 for the long weekend, and so that I can exercise my right to vote. I miss my family so much. Yesterday, my dad sent to me my 9-year-old brother's first oil painting masterpiece. It was like the work of a professional, I tell you. I'm so proud of him. Too bad I'll be away on his birthday, on the 30th, like I was on my 20-year-old brother's birthday last April 21.

It's not easy being away from my comfort zone. Aggravated by the fact that it's not really that comfortable here. But I'm not complaining. I'm all for experiencing new things, from both sides of the spectrum.

Have a nice summer. I miss you all sooooo much! Here's to hoping that I'd still be eligible to enroll next school at Ateneo Law :)