“Within the child lies the fate of the future.” – Maria Montessori
Cobwebs…Just a few cobwebs over here but I’m happily and eagerly pushing them aside to share a story. I experienced one of my most favorite Manila days this past week. Through fate and the grace of God, I answered a post to help volunteer my time and “photography skills” to Photogs for a Cause to help take pictures of children for In-visible. It sounded like the perfect match for me so off I went with Nick, my Manila right hand man, to venture north of Manila to Holy Spirit Elementary School. It was my first visit to a Filipino school as I’ve spent most of my time here inside the Embassy’s preschool up until now. I was told this school serves 8,000 children. That’s right…8,000. In order to accommodate all of these children, there are two shifts – 6 am to noon and noon to 6pm. Take some time to process that for a bit. Our work for the day was to take head shots of a group of children for the upcoming In-visible “Instagram campaign” to raise money to help feed a child lunch for the duration of one school year.
So here is the story in pictures I’d like to share…
The school was bustling with groups of children absolutely everywhere. Happy, joyful, smiling, and laughing children. I too was smiling ALL DAY and returned each of their waves and smiles with matched enthusiasm. The energy alone was one I will gladly bottle up and carry with me forever. After a few introductions, we began our important work for the day. The children were beyond excited to see us walking the halls and snapping shots. Their smiles say it all.
After two intensive hours, we went downstairs to check in with the director of the In-visible lunch feeding program. This is where I had the privilege of observing the “Universal Child” in action once again. Dr. Maria Montessori’s work was based on her observations of children around the world. She found that the universal laws of development she had recognized were inherent to children of all races and cultures, thus the existence of the “Universal Child”. I couldn’t help but notice a group of children intently watching an older child at work. I’ve seen this before in my classroom – a group of younger children captivated by the talents of an older classmate and is always a beautiful and blessed gift to me. Wilbert, who was celebrating his 12th birthday, was taking great pride in his artistic renderings of his friend’s names. When he had taken a pause, I introduced myself and asked if he would create one for me. Without hesitation, Wilbert flipped to a page to ensure he was spelling my name correctly before he began drawing. I love the embellishments he added at the end of my name! His notebook was filled with sketches, lettering, and math work. His enthusiasm was infectious and his “can do” attitude was clearly very engaging to his onlookers.
But Wilbert’s industriouness didn’t end here at the table with his art. After we took a much deserved lunch break, we returned for an afternoon of continued head shots. Wilbert was eager to join our “crew” and followed us to our next classroom. We had some wonderful mothers helping us coordinate the children for their pictures but there seemed to be a need that Wilbert was eager to fill. You can see here a hard working and concentrated leader in action. I admire the leadership role that he took upon himself with Tracey and one of the classroom teachers. I learned that his father is one of the most dedicated volunteers at the school which goes to show the importance of a strong role model! This is a boy who is going places!
One of my favorite moments of the day was seeing this young girl in action. Her mother was helping us during the morning shift and she was quietly following along. The older children we were photographing held small chalkboards with their names, age and grade for their records. As I mentioned, there was quite a bit of energy involved with our presence but, amidst the bustle, I noticed at one point the little one found a tiny broken bit of chalk and decided on her own work. It made my Montessori heart melt.
I noticed on many of the classroom doors and bulletin boards the children had recently celebrated their teachers on World Teacher’s Day. Having seen the classrooms filled to the brim with eager, energetic children, I too wanted to celebrate the important work of these teachers. While I didn’t have a chance to interact with them, I could see by the children’s behavior that they loved and respected their teachers. What a beautiful thing!
At the end of 5 hours, I was utterly and totally exhausted. The perspiration alone was remarkable and, yet, I have never felt more fulfilled since I’ve been in Manila. My heart was glowing, my face ached from smiling and, while I dreamt of a shower, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was for having found these children and this organization. I can’t wait to go back!