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The Silent Army

Legazpi Thomasians reach out through Masustansiyang Pagkaon Para sa mga Kaakian Project

Many of us have the impression that our administrators and staff care only about the passing rate of our alumni in their respective board examinations, and those who receive renown in their own field of interest. And while this may be partly true – our professors and administrators really do care a lot about how we will fare once we leave the roost – but there exist workers and students in our university whom many of us do not know. More often than not, these are humble people whose names might never even appear on the tarpaulins of our walls, accomplishing noble things without any desire for recognition.

But we will recognize them anyway.

The Supplemental Feeding Program

Starting October 30, 2017, the Office of Student Services (OSS) and the student leaders of our university visited the children of P4, Sitio Palawan, Rawis, Legazpi City, to conduct a supplementary feeding program on a weekly basis. Every student organization had representatives being sent every Saturday to facilitate the program. Somehow, they were able to witness the great need for gallantry and grace in the less-privileged parts of our city.

Originally, the program was only until December 30, 2017, but due to inevitable circumstances, they extended it until January 13, 2018. Appropriately entitled, “Masustansiyang Pagkaon Para sa mga Kaakian Project: Supplemental Feeding and Health Education Program,” the move was poised at encouraging the residents of the said place to maintain a healthy lifestyle, starting with the right knowledge regarding what constitutes a healthy diet. And what better way to teach them than to prepare a healthy and balanced meal on a weekly basis?

Originally, only 45 children, who were considered “severely wasted,” signed up for the feeding program. Hence, the organizers appropriated the funds to feed only those who have signed up for it. But as the volunteers visited the children every Saturday, more and more children joined in. In fact, there was even a time when the attendance got doubled, and even a couple of persons with disabilities asked for a hearty meal. Nevertheless, our student leaders were able to feed every single one of them, with the spectacle reminding them of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand during Jesus’ day.

As they got immersed deeper into the barangay and its atmosphere, they found out that malnutrition was just a manifestation of the real problem. They needed help, and they needed it badly.

A Take-Off Project

The supplementary feeding program won’t able to solve the problem of malnutrition itself – our student leaders only have enough spare time and funds to feed the famished on Saturdays. But because of it, the organizers are able to see the deeper problems that our society has, and has to be solved for good. “We may be visiting the children once every week to encourage them to have a healthy lifestyle, but if after five to ten years we are still organizing feeding programs, then we have failed,” explained Mr. Enrico Manallo, coordinator for student organizations, and was also the project head for the feeding program.

Somehow, the feeding program has become a take-off project poised at targeting and solving the roots of the children’s chronic malnutrition – poverty, unhealthy lifestyle, and spiritual starvation. “We may not have succeeded helping the children achieve their optimum weight, but we surely got to know them better and have earned their trust and cooperation in making their lives better,” said Mr. Manallo.

The Center for Community Involvement (CCI), and other partner offices, are brainstorming regarding different programs and strategies to address the deeper concerns of the community. They are not going to stop at malnutrition – they will tackle important issues like women empowerment, livelihood, and spiritual nourishment. As a matter of fact, our university will begin to address the issue of spiritual malnutrition come February 2018, courtesy of the Office of Religious Affairs. They will be visiting the same place and hold bible studies through what they call the Basic Ecclesial Community.

“Ultimately, we are looking forward to the day when they will be capable of providing for their basic household needs including a healthy and balanced diet every day,” expressed Mr. Manallo. “Our hopes is that one day, they would be able to stand on their own feet and be able to supply for their families’ and community’s needs without asking for our help anymore.”

Silently and Covertly

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, once likened the Church to a human body. And just like any body, there are parts which are easily appreciated, while there are those that function silently and covertly. He went on to say that these are honored more by God, for these are not concerned about earning any praise and that they are equally important for a body to function properly. Likewise, our university is not only concerned about who of our graduates top their board exams but is also sold out to effecting the transformation to our employees and students who now seem to have formed a silent army, making profound impacts to our communities nonetheless.

Posted on: 01.18.2018

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