Words by: Kiana Palacios
*NOTE: Faces of the children and volunteers were blurred as respect to their privacy and as a request by Concordia Children’s Services, Inc. and the ICA social action student staff. All photos provided by the ICA Social Action Student Staff.
Recently, my class was given the opportunity to visit the orphans at Concordia Children’s Services in Manila. The Philippines has a striking record of having around 1.8 million abandoned children as of 2016, and that number is nothing but rising. Most of the orphan stories at Concordia consist of those the volunteers found lying on the streets, even some babies with their placentas. Additionally, Concordia also accepts children whose parents are in need of financial and physical support.
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Concordia supports the children fully on donations and volunteer work. Several volunteers act as caretakers and stay with the children, playing with them and taking care of their needs. It’s a small home, with only one playroom and playground open to the public. In general, their orphanage perimeter is pretty limited.
The one thing that struck me the most with my visit wasn’t the children or the stories of the volunteers, but how we were told that these abandoned children not once asked about their parents. Despite the circumstance they were subjected to, that simple lifestyle of waking up, sleeping, eating, and playing for 24 hours straight seven times a day, is enough to bring bright smiles to the faces of these children.
There were around 20 kids in Concordia, ranging from babies to toddlers. Some couldn’t even speak yet. They were pretty young, easily hooked with what was on the television or whatever sparks their interest.
It took a while before the children opened up to us, but once they did, they didn’t want us to leave. We could tell that simply sitting down with them while watching the movie playing in the playroom already meant so much to them.
The standards by which most of us classify true happiness, or happiness in itself, is one that is very superficial, and yet, those who have the least, tend to even be the happiest. More often than not, we usually forget the little things in our day-to-day lives, things as simple as our own families.
In the two hours that I spent with the kids, I discovered a lot about myself and the real plight of these children. Some might not even be as lucky and are still out there on the streets, trying to live on their own. But it is the people behind organizations like these, like Concordia Children’s Services, who go out of their way to help those they don’t even know, that restore the balance of our world. We don’t usually see the little things they do, but for some, it’s enough to give happiness to last a lifetime.
To donate or volunteer, contact Concordia through the links below.
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”
―Dalai Lama XIV
How about you? Where do you draw your happiness from? Let us know in the comments.
Concordia Children’s Services, Inc.
4443 Old Sta. Mesa St., Santa Mesa, Manila, 1016 Metro Manila
(02) 354 6049