Once upon a time, a little street kid in Manila changed my life.
He begged some money to buy me a drink. This act of kindness haunted my heart and gave me an overwhelming desire to go back and do something to help the poor children. 6 months later I was back and destiny took me to the island of Boracay where I met the poorest of the poor, the Ati, also known as Aeta or 'negritos'. In 1986 I began to help them along with a kind lady called Rufina Villaroman who allowed me to sleep in her kitchen and helped me open Boracay's first little reggae bar, the profits of which I used to feed the Ati children who gathered round and we later began to send some of them to school. After receiving a letter from Rufina (Auntie Pina) years later saying one of the Atis was begging for bits of wood to make coffins to bury his family who all died from TB, we were compelled to go and do something to help.
In 1993 Maria and I, along with Dave and Judy Tomlinson, set off from Malta to Boracay on a 'mission of love', later joined by Mario Bartolo. Through the kind hearts and very generous support of many people in Malta we were able to build some homes and start a daycare which has evolved into a school called MOLISI Mission of Love Integrated School, Inc., which is run by a very dedicated lady called Marissa F. Familara. Many people in Malta sponsored children's education and helped to give the Atis a hope and a future. Today the school is integrated and has over 200 children, providing free education to about 50 Ati children.
Various students from UK universities (mainly Manchester where my son Josh went and promoted the idea) went and volunteered their time to tutor the Ati children. James Cant-Parton and Joe Bond not only tutored but even went as far as running the Ironman triatholon and raised huge support for the school.
Theoretically, the school is self sustained and self sufficient in providing free and dedicated tuition to the Atis and helping them to integrate with the other children. In reality, some extra help is still needed to cover costs like books and tuition. We honour Marissa for the great job she is doing and want to continue to support this labour of love. I am hoping we can return soon for a visit.
I want to thank every person who has helped in any way through donations, sponsorship, and time. We are planning to send a gift to help them as there are many needs, so if anyone wants to contribute anything, however small, we will be very glad to channel that directly to them. You may even wish to sponsor a child?
Thanks for your interest.