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.
As many of you know, we used to have sponsor for the Ati children for quite a few years.
Our idealistic goal was to see the Mission of Love school become self sufficient and even profit enough to cover the costs of the Ati kids so that we could phase out the sponsorship program. Well, it was wishful thinking but not quite realistic. The school is able to sustain itself but the cost of books alone for the Ati kids has not been possible to cover without getting into debt and seeking help. For this reason, we are going to reactivate the sponsoring of children to help secure their education and carry some of the expense that the school is incurs.
If you wish to sponsor one of the 40 Ati children presently at Mission of Love school or help some of the 30 Ati children who have graduated to further education, we would be more than glad to facilitate this. If you can spare either €5, €10 or €15 per month towards their education it will be a great and precious investment into their future. As a mission, we have no administration costs and can ensure that all funds donated will be directly invested in their care and education.
Well I won’t tell the whole story again ( but it’s all on the videos 1, 2 and 3 if you want to know, video 3 being the shortest and the latest 5mm overview from feb 2011)
What I will do is try and keep you updated on the progress...
In response to the last video (no.3) which was spread widely on facebook and by email, we had a great response and managed to raise the funds needed for the urgent and much needed renovations at MOLISI (Mission of Love Integrated School Inc.) For those of you that contributed in any way, a great big THANK YOU from Mission of Love and the very grateful Ati people of Boracay.
We have not yet started the sewage connection work that was also featured in the video as we are waiting for the Government department concerned to install some major pipelines near the Ati lot. So as a temporary solution, we are assisting in having the septic tanks emptied when needed.
A very wonderful thing that was fruit of that little video was the initiative of two university students, James Cant-Parton from University of Manchester and Joe Bond from University of Leeds. James contacted me to ask about the possibility of going to Boracay to help and came up with the idea of tutoring the Ati children and teaching them some sports too. Marissa Familara, who runs the school, welcomed their support and assisted in organising individual tuition for the Ati children who really need the extra help as many of them are behind the other kids and have been at a disadvantage.
So James and Joe crossed the world at their own expense and gave their time, money and talents to serve the Ati people of Boracay! I am still amazed and so encouraged by this initiative and apart from being a huge blessing to the Atis, I hope it has been a life-changing experience for James and Joe.
Taking it a step further still, they plan to promote the need and inspire other students to do likewise and consider embarking on such a mission. I hope it snowballs! Love is contagious and I do believe the things we give away are the most precious treasures we get to keep.
will keep you posted ...
Here’s a video James put together
Tutoring the Atis slideshow video 2011