Thursday, May 7, 2015

Former Street Kids Begin New Phase in Life

From left: Patrick Leano, Jervie Magat, a friend,
Allan Regota
No one watching Jervie Magat, Patrick Leano, and Allan Regota jubilantly tossing their graduation caps into the air would have guessed that just six years earlier, these good-looking young men wandered Manila’s streets aimless and desperately poor.

Patrick was just ten when he and his mother began living on the streets near Rizal Park. His parents had just separated. Soon, influenced by other street kids, he began to smoke, drink, and get ‘high’ by inhaling wood glue or solvent fumes. 

Allan’s parents separated due to a financial crisis. He, his mother, and a sister born after the separation soon found themselves on the streets.  The siblings had to often beg for food.   

After Jervie’s father died, his mother had to sell their house.  When the money ran out, Jervie,  his mother,  stepfather and three stepsiblings all had to live on the street. 

Patrick’s and Jervie’s paths crossed when they began attending CCT’s feeding program and Bible studies for street dwellers.  Here they heard the Gospel and were told that there still was hope for them. Later they and their families were given temporary shelter at the Kaibigan Center in Pasay, where Allan and his family were also being housed.  Here the families received counselling, were discipled, and the adults were trained for jobs.

Some time later the children were brought to study at the Visions of Hope (VOH) Christian School in Puypuy, Bay, Laguna.  Patrick, Jervie, and Allan, since they were older, were later on sent to the VOH residential school in Magdalena, Laguna. Here they attended Alternative Learning System (ALS) classes and eventually earned grade school and  high school diplomas.  

Their horizons expanded as they learned new skills and developed their talents.  They learned the habits of obedience, reverence, discipline and self-respect when they joined the Boys’ Brigade. Patrick even got to travel to Singapore to represent the VOH Boys’ Brigade in a conference there.  Above all, their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ grew firm and strong. 

In June 2013, all three boys began attending a two-year course in hotel and restaurant services at the Angelita V. del Mundo Foundation.  In April 2015 they donned graduation caps and gowns and joyfully received certificates of completion.  They are set to gain further training in this field by working part-time with the food and beverage department of the Tagaytay Retreat and Training Center and they look forward to further studies, supporting themselves through four-year degree courses. 

Shortly after the graduation ceremony, on Facebook, Patrick posted a picture of himself wearing a graduation gown, and in three short sentences expressed what must have been in the minds of his friends and all those who saw them grow and develop over the past few years: “Dati wala nang pag-asa.  Pero ngaun eto na ako.  Salamat sa Diyos. (I’d run out of hope.  But this is me now. Thank God.) ”