Last year, in September, my 94-year old lola (grandmother) died after being sick for a while. Like many Filipino matriarchs, she was the glue that kept our family together, and it was never more true than in her death.
By the time I had my own thoughts and ideas, Lola Ada was already hard to reach. She had suffered a stroke before then and it made it difficult for her to walk and speak. The conditions got worse with time but even beneath that, I could see that she was a strong woman. I could see it in the way my dad and his brothers and sisters doted on her, on the values and responsibilities we were given growing up, and in the constant thank-yous they would shower on her even if they weren’t sure she could understand them.
When they were kids they were poor. My dad had to sell sampaguita, etc. and I often heard stories of how in desperation, he’d sometimes steal clothes from their neighbors’ clotheslines so that they had something to wear. It wasn’t always so bad, mostly thanks to my lola’s hard work. It was probably all the sacrifices she made to take care of them that eventually led them to providing assistance to Meritxell orphanage.
In her name, my brother and his 11 siblings helped renovate and supply Meritxell orphanage in Marikina. It’s a home for young girls from infancy to adolescence.
We visited the place one Sunday and it was heartening to see that the place is run by such good people. Older women take care of the kids and they teach the older orphans how to take care of their younger “sisters” too. They may be orphans but they certainly seemed like a family to me. With all they lack in their young lives, companionship isn’t one of them 🙂
Being realistic though, yes they need food, education, books, clothes, and toys. They also need the care and the experience of interacting with people outside of their orphanage. Most of all, they need homes.
If you can provide any of these, visit them at Peach St., Barangay Conception II, Marikina City.
There are also orphans that eventually end up reaching legal age without being adopted. Talking to one of the founders, he said it’s a big concern where they go afterwards. Some get scholarships to colleges but some aren’t that lucky. If you know of any livelihood/vocational programs the girls can enter, that would help too.
This cutie was supposed to be named Lance because he was found in a lanzones box at the LRT. Instead, he’s named Jacob, “like in the Bible.” At Maritxell Children’s Home.
This is Angel. she was found in tall grass near Boracay.
Doing quick research for this post, I found a lot of other existing orphanages. You can see all of these on Google but here’s a short list anyway. If you can’t volunteer at Meritxell, maybe you can visit an orphanage nearer you or donate to a foundation 🙂