What will it take to give someone hope that positive changes will come sooner than later? A little time and a little effort perhaps backed by good intentions. Maybe… but what would it REALLY take to inspire hope among the less fortunate in society who have had more than their share of trials that come with living?
Answer: Support and Assistance towards long-term solutions for issues faced by the person in need of hope.
For more than 300 kids of families in Barangay Matiang in Bocaue, Bulacan who were relocated from a slum community in Tondo, Manila, hope came in the form of a school bag filled with school supplies. It is intended to boost the morale of the youngsters so as to keep their dreams of a better education alive in their hearts and within reach. A pencil, a notebook, a bag, all these symbolize the unending hope to have a better life through education.
Bag 943, a social entrepreneurship venture,co-sponsored the event with two past recipients of the Jollibee Family Values Awards, Jollibee’s annual recognition for exemplary Filipino families. Anton Lim and Melissa Villa-Wilcox didn’t just come to give out bags that day. It is their way of encouraging children to study hard, believing that it is the only way our country can move forward.
Jollibee Family Values Awardees
For veterinarian Anton Lim and his family, providing even the most basic needs to disadvantaged people are enough to bring them hope for a better future. Dr. Lim, who heads the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, has been active in various charitable initiatives since 2010, helping to address the prevalent needs of the less fortunate in society. The Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation started in Layag-Layag, a mangrove village in Zamboanga City where children brave the river waters just to reach school. The foundation provided boats to ferry the students to school and to enable the families to earn a living through fishing.
The Foundation partnered with Project P.E.A.R.L.S. (Peace Education Aspiration Respect Love Smiles) of Melissa Villa-Wilcox, an OFW from San Jose, California, for this particular event. Project P.E.A.R.L.S. was established in the Philippines and the U.S.A. in 2008 by founder and executive director Melissa Villa-Wilcox, to develop outreach programs and gather volunteers to help the poorest of the poor. Her husband, Clif Wilcox, and their daughter Francesca help in the fundraising events and in developing educational programs while her brother, Juan, oversees all local operations as Team Leader in the Philippines. The group has worked hard to relocate the community away from Barangay Ulingan in Tondo where factories threaten the health of the children. Scholarship grants are also provided by the organization for the affected students.
The Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation and Project P.E.A.R.L.S. continue to partner with other non-government organizations and tap volunteers to help improve lives and promote positive values. As the outreach activities reach more communities, other families and organizations are also encouraged to join and contribute to the advocacies. Despite having different advocacy programs, these organizations work hand-in-hand to achieve the vision of making the Philippines a better place.
Gifts of Hope
The gift of hope is not only measured through material things. When Jollibee treated the kids to snacks in the special Jolly Joy Box and made sure that its well-loved mascot was present to give joy to the children, it also answered the need of many less fortunate to be valued as a human being who has equal rights to enjoy life like anyone else. The problems being faced by these children and their families may not have been instantaneously solved by this event but it should a mark a start of hopes for a brighter future.
Today, the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation is able to reach more places in the country. “We’re in 55 communities nationwide. We do feeding and de-worming programs, but our bottom line is education,” Dr. Lim said.
“Charity starts at home, but it shouldn’t stop there. Marami pang dapat tulungan,” concluded Villa-Wilcox.
All big successes came from small beginnings. We can never underestimate the value of each good deed we do for our fellowmen, no matter how insignificant they may appear to be in the face of insurmountable challenge. Just like Dr. Lim and Ms. Villa-Wilcox, we can do our share in giving hope especially to those who may have totally given up or about to give up. Let us restore our faith in humanity by being an instrument of hope to one another. Let us start by exuding hope ourselves.