Thursday, Sep 19

Blessing for the Aeta children

August 28, 2019 | Jonas Trinidad

Nothing but smiles pervade among the Aeta children and students of Tzu Chi University of Science and Technology (TCUST) during their brief encounter. The students’ visit is part of their annual overseas outreach program. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • Students and teachers of the Tzu Chi University of Science and Technology brought aid and smiles to the Aeta children of Bamban, Tarlac on August 28 as part of their yearly outreach program. Beyond the monthly donation of rice, the students brought snacks, school supplies, and hygiene kits to the 50 children.

 

A classroom of indigenous Aeta children is the focus of this year’s outreach program by the Tzu Chi University of Science of Technology (TCUST).

 

A classroom of indigenous Aeta children is the focus of this year’s outreach program by the Tzu Chi University of Science of Technology (TCUST).

Tzu Chi volunteers from Angeles City and Manila brought sixteen students from Tzu Chi University of Science of Technology (TCUST) accompanied by their three teachers to the town of Bamban, Tarlac on August 28 to bring aid and smiles to 50 Aeta children, who are beneficiaries of a tutorial program initiated by the Alay Ko Foundation, a local non-government organization. As the foundation also provides meals for the children, Tzu Chi foundation donates 500 kilos of rice monthly to this endeavor.

Adolph Andes, a teacher for the foundation, describes the ordeal the children go through every day. From their village in the mountains, they must cross rivers and go over rolling hills just to get to school. The entire journey takes them up to two hours, even longer in rainy days where they have to keep their uniforms dry in plastic bags.

This, Andes explained, inspired the foundation to help them. But it hasn’t been easy, admitting that they struggle with the upkeep of maintaining their program.

“We are so very thankful to Tzu Chi’s support, which is why we teach kids to give importance to the blessings they receive. For example, they shouldn’t waste the rice they eat and instead, they should be grateful for it,” he explained.

Tzu Chi volunteers Vincent and Pansy Ho of Angeles City, Pampanga have been maintaining the rice donation since 2016. Hearing about the difficulties the children and their benefactor face, they pooled the blessings from family, friends, and acquaintances to sustain this act of kindness.

“Master Cheng Yen taught us that everyone deserves a chance to do good deeds. So I called up some of my friends to see if they can help, telling them about the lives the children lead,” said Pansy.

Coincidentally, some of the TCUST students hail from aborigine tribes of Taiwan. Lee Lo Han, who teaches nursing at TCUST, believes that their meeting with the Aeta children will allow them to be more appreciative of their heritage.

“Although [the TCUST] students have experienced their own hardships in life, being with the [Aeta] children today has brought smiles to them. It also let the children know that they’re not alone, because we’re all one family,” said Lee.

Aside from rice, the students from Taiwan also brought snacks, school supplies, and hygiene kits. Such materials are in short supply from where the Aeta children live, especially hygiene. In a playful manner, the TCUST students took the opportunity to teach the children how to wash their hands and brush their teeth.

  • Every month since 2016, Tzu Chi has supported the Aeta children with 500 kilos of rice. The Alay Ko Foundation, a local NGO, handles the children’s feeding program. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The children make three bows to Dharma Master Cheng Yen prior to the start of the program. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The children perform the Tzu Chi song “One Family” before their visitors from Taiwan. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • In groups of twelve, Tzu Chi volunteers, TCUST students, and Aeta children spend the late morning playing games. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The students show the gratitude cards they received from the children. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Teaching the children how to brush their teeth is the idea of TCUST nursing teacher Lee Lo Han. Because the children rarely have access to personal hygiene, Lee sees the event as an opportunity to help them become healthy. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The children are asked to draw their dreams and how to achieve them. This girl wishes for a cozy house. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The students bid goodbye to the children in the afternoon. However, they would return the next day for the rice relief activity for the latter’s families.【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】