Farhana Tahir, a mother from Marawi City, could not help but heave a sigh of frustration at how difficulty earning a living has become in this time of pandemic. “Ang hirap ng hanapbuhay ngayon. Sana ay bumalik na sa normal para lahat ay makapag-hanapbuhay na.”
But if there is one thing that makes Farhana thankful, even in the bleakness of times, it is her child being a beneficiary of the “Adopt a Child” program of Synergeia Foundation.
The “Adopt a Child” Program was originally conceived to bring the out-of-school children of Marawi City back to school by having donors shoulder the children’s daily transportation expense and school snacks. With a minimal amount of only P600 a month, the program was able to help some 135 children when it was first implemented in 2019. Synergeia spiced up the program with an arts and music workshop for the children and livelihood trainings for their mothers and fathers. Foster parents got copies of the report cards of children they supported, and thank-you notes. At Christmastime, they sent some gifts for the children to enjoy.
The onslaught of COVID-19 discontinued the program. But it is making a comeback this school year, supporting at the moment 55 students, while Synergeia works to expand the community of donors for this program.
During the “Kumustahan” we had with parents of children under the new “Adopt a Child” program last February 16, 2022 at the Amai Pakpak Central Elementary School, many parents welcomed the possibility of having face-to-face classes once again. They agree that this will be good for the education of their children. “Ang kagandahan ay matututukan ng mabuti ang pag-aaral ng mga bata dahil nga po, ilan sa amin ay hindi nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral. Nahihirapan din po kami sa pagtuturo sa aming mga anak,” said Mrs. Soraida M. Tampi. The challenge of teaching at home is great for parents who were not schooled themselves.
But with face-to-face classes, some parents worry about the cost of buying a new set of uniform or school supplies when the time comes. Mrs. Olimpiy Dandamun candidly said, “Malaking adjustment po lalo na’t magdadalawang taon na po ang pandemic. Ang mga uniform po ng mga anak namin ay maliit na sa kanila. Medyo magiging magastos po dahil din sa mga kagamitan nila sa school tulad ng notebook, pencil at iba pang kailangan nila.”
Parents of “Adopt a Child” scholars have formed a close bond with each other. The “Kumustahan” became a venue for them to talk about the well-being of their children and other family members. They talked about how to stay healthy and protected from COVID-19. They shared ways by which they augmented their daily earnings such as through selling vegetables, banana cue and ube cue. They also hoped that the other parents and children can also come back to the program.
At the end of their “Kumustahan,” they expressed their joy and gratitude. “Nagpapasalamat kami at nandiyan pa rin ang Synergeia at mga donors para tumulong sa aming mga anak.”