RCHT newsletter Autumn 2017
We greatly value all those who support Rehoboth in so many different ways, including the readers of this newsletter. So we can keep you up to date better with all that is happening, we have decided to send out our newsletter three times a year instead of just twice. We will also be emailing our prayer news more regularly to those who have said they will pray for Rehoboth, and will no longer produce an annual prayer guide as much of this information will be in the prayer news mailings. Please contact us if you would like to be added to the prayer news distribution list.
If you would like to know even more about what is happening on a daily basis, why not visit our Facebook page and our Philippines website which can be found via a link on the UK-based Rehoboth website. You will see some great pictures of activities at Rehoboth. All the details are at the end of the newsletter.
In this edition you will hear about our new residents, about how residents are becoming more independent, how one college student was able to continue his studies through REAP, and the reflections of our American Peace Corps Volunteer as she comes to the end of her time at Rehoboth.
Philip Thompson (Chair of RCHT)
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY
This year the Rehoboth family has welcomed six new residents from two local families who need support at this time. One family of three girls (aged 6, 7 & 11) joined us from their makeshift home in a market stall in the local city. Their mother is struggling to make enough money from selling vegetables to provide for the basic needs of her six children, let alone afford to send them to school. The market is a dangerous area at night with drugs and violence an everyday occurrence. Before that they lived in a part of the city known for prostitution and the family were surrounded by unhealthy lifestyles and influences. One night after bad flooding a snake came into the house and the father was fatally bitten while the family slept.
Another family of two boys (11 & 13) and one girl (7) have come to Rehoboth due to the fact that their parents are not able to provide their basic needs at present and they have not been able to attend school. Their father is a seasonal farm labourer who also does occasional carpentry and charcoal making to supplement their income. They live in the middle of a rice field, with no close neighbours and it takes an hour to walk to the nearest school. The two younger ones have had to start in Kindergarten, and the oldest is in Grade 3 despite their ages, although they are already proving that they are learning fast and are keen to catch up on their studies.
DEVELOPING INDEPENDENCE: FROM RESIDENT TO REAP
Ericka has been at Rehoboth for over 11 years. She arrived as a shy and reserved 9 year old girl ready to start Grade 2, has successfully completed both elementary and high school and is now 21 years old and starting her third year in college.
Ericka comes from a local mountain region where a community of people were resettled after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. She comes from a family of 9 children and her parents work as farmers. Most of her siblings have not been able to finish elementary school and there is no high school in her village. She will be the first member of her family to graduate from college.
In June this year Ericka moved from being a Rehoboth resident into our Rehoboth Educational Assistance Programme (REAP) where she is learning to live more independently. Instead of living at Rehoboth she has moved into a college dormitory down the road. She is sharing a room with five other college students and they are working as a group to shop, cook and clean together. She receives a monthly allowance from her sister and Rehoboth and she has to budget her money for all her personal and school needs.
Ericka says that she chose to study as an elementary teacher so that one day she can return to her home in the mountains and help the children there. Living independently has encouraged her to socialize more with others and given her the confidence and opportunity to join new activities. She has joined a bible study group in the dorms provided by a local Baptist church and is learning how to make her own decisions and become a responsible young adult.
A SECOND CHANCE TO STUDY
Edilbert Jr. became one of our REAP students just last year. He is 20 years old and is studying agriculture in his third year at university. Edilbert and his younger brother Francis live with their grandmother. Their mother died from heart failure just a week after Francis was born, and their father abandoned them soon after, leaving their grandparents to bring them up as best they could. They are farm tenants and live in a simple one-room house beside the land that they farm. The house is very vulnerable in strong winds and rain as it is not made from strong materials. Unfortunately in 2002 their grandfather passed away from a stroke leaving it the sole responsibility of the grandmother to provide for all the needs of the boys. As the years went by it became harder and harder to work and provide for all of the growing needs of her grandsons. Their grandmother suffers from arthritis, and working in the farm and doing laundry to supplement their income became challenging. After completing one year in college Edilbert stopped studying so that he could work on the farm, support his brother in school and save so he could continue his studies later. Last year one of our former residents recommended him to apply for a REAP scholarship to enable him to continue his studies.
Edilbert’s grandmother is so thankful that through REAP her loving, hard-working and responsible grandson can continue to reach for his dream of finishing his course and getting a job to support his family in the future.
THANK YOU & GOODBYE
In November 2017, I will be ending my 29-month service in the Philippines and at Rehoboth Children’s Home, Inc. While I am looking forward to going home to California and reuniting with family and friends, I am sad to be leaving the Philippines and the wonderful people who have made this country my second home.
Filipinos value family and relationships above all and I am so blessed to have been invited into the hearts and homes of so many families here. “Family” and “Home” have greater meaning to me now because of my time here in the Philippines, and especially at Rehoboth. I am thankful every day that Peace Corps decided to place me here. Rehoboth is a special place and it will forever be one of the greatest things I have ever been a part of. It is hard to raise a child, let alone raising 30 at a time, at a range of ages, and who come from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances. It is a challenge to make sure every child is treated equally, but not the same, in order to meet every child’s unique needs and personality. Rehoboth provides a home and a family to everyone that passes through its doors, myself included. For many of our residents, Rehoboth is the first time they have experienced the love and care of a family, and it is where they learn to be kind, thoughtful, and responsible human beings. I have been here long enough to see residents come and go, to see strangers quickly become friends and family, to see children realize their love of learning once given the chance, to see children grow into young men and women, reunite with family they thought were lost, graduate from college, and develop dreams and plans for their futures.
I am thankful to all the residents of Rehoboth for giving me their trust and allowing me to be a part of their growth and development. In them, I have gained over 30 new brothers and sisters whom I love and adore. I only hope I’ve touched their lives at least a fraction of how much they’ve changed mine. I am full of awe and admiration for the Rehoboth staff who work tirelessly to care and provide for the residents and raise them as their own. It is often a thankless job, but they continue to serve with patience and devotion and I am proud to have worked alongside them the last 2 years. I have been inspired by our work here to pursue a Masters in Social Work when I go home. I am thankful for sponsors and supporters of Rehoboth all over the world who have helped keep its doors open the last 35 years so that we are able to continue to give Filipino children a hope for the future. It has been the greatest honor to serve at Rehoboth and I look forward to joining you all as a sponsor once my service has ended.
Thank you so much. Maraming maraming salamat po!
Jacqueline Guan, US Peace Corps Volunteer