By: Jordan Wong
After being involved with Joshua’s Heart for 3 years and becoming Chair of the Junior Advisory Board (JAB), I started to brainstorm what I wanted to do for my own personal project to further Joshua’s Heart’s mission. After some thought, I remembered my first trip to the Philippines, where my mom was born and raised. I was 9 years old at the time and what struck me the most was the homelessness, the lack of food and running water in some places, and the seeming impossibility of escaping poverty. That’s when I decided to try and envision a project to improve the lives of the people in the Philippines and, at the same time, give back to my roots. To find a way to do so, my mom recommended that I reach out to one of her childhood friends, Chiqui Roa-Puno, who is a congresswoman in Antipolo City, Philippines and who I met on that same trip 8 years ago and refer to as Tita Chiqui (“Tita” means aunt in Tagalog). My mom said that as a congresswoman, Tita Chiqui may know of some cause or organization that I can help and support.
I then emailed Tita Chiqui and told her about my involvement in Joshua’s Heart, its mission, and my desire to expand our outreach to the Philippines. She suggested a shelter, Kanlungan ng Kabataan Village (KKV) or “shelter for children” in Tagalog located in Antipolo City, which is 16 miles east of Manila.KKV is a conglomerate of three separate shelters for approximately 50 children – one for abandoned and abused boys, one for abandoned and abused girls, and one for juvenile delinquents in rehabilitation. She told us that, although KKV was funded by the city government, they were getting a pittance – each kid only had about $1.20 for three meals each day, which is far from adequate for growing children. Therefore, they needed supplemental food supplies as well as other necessities such as toiletries and clothes. I saw this cause to be perfectly in line with Joshua’s Heart’ mission – not only is it eliminating hunger but doing so with kids: the very people who run our organization and who we need to empower.
After hearing all this, I named my project Aid for Antipolo and started envisioning ways I could fundraise money for KKV to get the supplemental food and supplies they needed.I ended up deciding on the straight forward method of soliciting friends and family to support my project, at least for the first year. I thought that it was the simplest and perhaps most expedient way to get the funds to the shelter. After communicating with Tita Chiqui and her staff on the details of what the shelter needed, including approximate cost of supplemental food and supplies, I set a goal of $3,500 and got to work sending emails, making calls, and talking to friends, family, neighbors, etc. to try and get them to support the cause. I told them about the shelter, and how they could help. I also told them that the top donors would get special recognition in a press release at the completion of the project. With the help of my mom, I created a website for the project with all the information about the cause and various ways to give.
The response was overwhelming with most complimenting my effort to make a difference in the lives of these disadvantaged youth and wishing me success on the project. After every donation received, I sent a thank you note to the donors thanking them for their generous contribution. At the end, and after a few months, I had surpassed my goal by a sizeable amount, raising around $5,100. With this total amount raised, the shelter told me that I could actually fund the supplementary feeding program for 120 days-that’s 4 months of extra meals for the kids! It was a better outcome than I expected and was very grateful to everyone who generously supported the project.
After sending the money, the shelter held an event in July to celebrate the successful launch of Aid for Antipolo . Tita Chiqui presented the check for the funds raised on my (and Joshua’s Heart’s) behalf. There was also a press release in Miami describing the success of the project and expansion of Joshua’s Heart’s reach to another international location.
Although I was not there, I saw videos of kids singing, dancing, and most importantly, smiling.Those smiles made me realize how successful this project was.
Those smiles made me feel, across an ocean, that I had accomplished something great and I have never been prouder.
Through this project, and the future installment of it I plan on creating, I hope to have given these children hope for the future.
A future wherein they can continue the circle of giving and help another who needs a little hope as well.