by Mark Anthony Goroy
I had never been to an orphanage or similar places that shelter homeless kids.
The closest one I’ve been to was last year when a family friend ask me to meet her in an orphanage that she’s helping out. Due to logistical issues (i.e., traffic, etc.), the meeting did not take place. Another instance was in January this year during the third session of CHARIS Foundation’s Make-A-Child Smile (MACS) project in Fabella Center in Mandaluyong. The place then was used as evacuation center by Yolanda survivors who came to Manila. However, the date of the event coincided with a scheduled trip back to my province. I’ve already attended the first and second MACS session in Leyte and Cebu. What could have been the easiest of the three sessions turned out to be the one that I had to miss.
Fast forward to July 18, 2014 during a dinner with fellow CHARIS members. Chris mentioned, although more of as a side comment to the topics that we were discussing, that he would spend his birthday on Sunday with the kids of Tuklasan Center, an orphanage in San Juan. Chris said that we could go there just to observe the activities. The activities would include fun games and zumba session.
Fun games, maybe. Zumba, no way. I was invited numerous times to zumba sessions before but I turned them down knowing that I don’t have the skills to follow the rhythm of the dance moves.
But the opportunity to visit an orphanage was too hard to pass.
So after dinner on the way home, I was thinking of other ways that I could actively engage with the kids other than observing them during the zumba sessions and fun games. Upon arriving and fixing my shoes, I saw my two-month old football attracting dust and getting deflated. I knew then what to do.
The following morning, I texted Chris about my idea. He said ok and gave the number of the event organizer, Harv of U!Happy Events.
I texted Harv: “…can I give basic football drills to some of the kids; about 3-5 kids maybe?”
I did not expect Harv’s reply: “Why just 3-5 kids? Why not all? They’re around 35 of them.”
All I could reply was: “Yes”.
I knew I couldn’t handle 35 kids by myself. I never conducted football drills to such large a crowd.
So I then called and texted a few friends of their availability the following day. The chances of getting a confirmation were slim but I was hoping that some of my football friends would be available.
Luckily, three confirmed by that evening and another two by Sunday.
I and a friend, Brian, arrived minutes before the 12:45pm call time. Kim, Jaio, Martin and Jonats arrived just a little earlier before our 1:30pm football drills started. I brought my two footballs and Kim and Jaio brought one each. So I asked Harv to divide the group into four during their first set of fun games to prepare them for the football drills.
To my surprise, it was not only the kids who will participate but also their respective volunteer kuyas and ates for the day. That doubled our participant to around 70.
Still, we went on with the basic drills that included passing, ball control, and dribbling.
We were allotted 30 minutes for the drills and I hardly noticed that we’ve used up that allocation with just a few drills.
We didn’t notice the time.
Maybe it was the size of the crowd. Maybe because we were also having fun.
Whatever the reason, I’m sure that the 30 minutes spent with the kids of Tuklasan Center will not be the last time that we will have with them.
I still have to teach them how to juggle the ball.
But that will be for another time; most likely before Chris’ birthday next year.
(Below are some photos of the event)
Additional photos from events photographer Len Pestano.