Youth take up Pope Francis' dare to serve the poor
MANILA, Philippines - Pope Francis challenged the youth to “think, feel, and do” and live a life of love and service.
For some participants of the papal Encounter with the Youth held on Sunday, January 18 at UST, this is already their reality.
Every other week, four girls from the Nuestra Senora del Perpetuo Socorro Parish pay it forward by visiting different barangays in their area to help underprivileged children.
They conduct feeding programs, bible study groups, and other activities that can distract a child from the harsh reality of life they did not choose.
The girls know the damage effects of poverty on a young life. They are all from impoverished background. The consequences it provides - hunger and a lack of education - already threaten the vulnerable lives of the country's poor.
"Mahirap maging mahirap," 14-year-old Jovylin Badilan said. "Mas mahirap iyong walang tutulong sa'yo."
(It's hard to be poor but it's harder when no one helps you.)
Fortunately, a kind soul took care of their needs including their education and daily living expenses.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old Nilo Torres organizes a monthly feeding program for street children living near his house.
Instead of raising funds by collecting from kind hearts, he saves his allowance - a meager amount of 100 pesos a day - every day until he has enough money to buy food.
Sometimes he only gets to provide a warm bowl of macaroni soup. When luck is on his side, he treats the children to a full meal of chicken, rice, and vegetables.
"This is just a simple thing I do to make the kids smile," he told Rappler. "It warms my heart and I'm sure it will warm the Pope's heart too."
Torres and Badilan say the gratitude they receive is enough motivation for them to continue despite the personal sacrifices they make. They also get strength from seeing the changes in the people.
"Iyong makikita mo na dati, basagulero siya at laging umiinom pero ngayon, nagtigil na siya ay napakaling bagay iyon," 23-year-old Brenda Valencia said. "Nakikita mo na may nagagawa iyong mga balak mo."
(When you see the change in someone who has stopped drinking and started to improve his life, you see that what you're doing is changing lives.)
For these selfless individuals, seeing the head of the Catholic Church known for living a simple life and for loving the poor gave them a bigger boost to do what they've started.
"Hindi niya ginagawa iyong kabutihan niya kasi Santo Papa siya o miyembro ng simbahan," Torres emphasized. "Tao siya at kahit sinong tao kailangan tumulong sa kapwa."
(He doesn't do the nice things because he's a Pope or because he's a member of the church. He's human and anyone should be able to help others.) - Rappler.com