The gift of education – keeping 20% for the poor

A boy who benefits from the programme
A boy who benefits from the programme – screen shot courtesy of Akaraka video clip

I chanced upon this while reading a facebook update by an ex-student from St. Joseph’s Institution. Bro Michael Broughton is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Lasallian Mission, Manila, Philippines. I have always known him to be a witty and humourous brother, knowledgeable yet humble. I enjoyed listening to his assembly talks. He is an intelligent person yet he comes across as a person who treats others with dignity.

Curious about what he is doing, I clicked on the youtube link.

I was inspired by what he shared. Through the clip, he shared how De La Salle university has become one of the top and most expensive university in Manila, Philippines. He shared how many of the prominent businessmen in Philippines comes from De La Salle’s School of business.

As a Christian brother school, the leaders wanted to ensure that the school remains a school of the poor and for the poor. De La Salle university is in a privilege position to help change the economics of Philippines. He then went on to share how the school is partnering Akaraka to help the poor students. In order to make a difference in the culture of the school, they have set  a target of 20% of the population to be for the poor students. The video clip showed pictures of boys who have benefitted from the scholarships. Students with their parents and families in the villages.

It is such a beautiful story.

Yesterday I was at second meeting of Joy Ambassadors at World Vision Singapore. A group of us volunteers were asked if we wanted to share the joy of being involved in child sponsorship. Though it was a small group, the sharing by the various people present made a deep impact on me. A friend, Joanne, felt led to help after she saw a video clip on Channel 8 about how the children were living in Mongolia. She felt that no one should live like that. It is below human dignity. Her heart was broken by what she saw. Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision said “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”

Another shared that she wanted to build a school in Africa, ever since she was in Secondary school.

One by one, the volunteers present and World Vision staff shared about how they got involved with World Vision. For me, it was an accidental journey. But I was glad I started. I am learning to put aside my assumptions about NGOs and what I can do. Instead, I asked myself, “What is needed to help them?”. Time and again I have learnt that what I assume may not be what the locals need. To partner, I need to set aside time, be committed and be available. It has been 3.5 years.

The journey partnering with World Vision has been transformational. When I saw the humility of the weak, the poor and the joy they get when they receive help, I know that the things I prided myself in is nothing compared to the many sufferings these villagers go through just to get a decent meal or even to go to school. When I met the many children orphaned by Aids, I know that being looked down or misunderstood by the community is something they face daily. Suffering is real.

There was a village school that I remember distinctly. The teachers were all rice farmers. They are part-time teachers, yet fully dedicated to helping the children in the only school in that village. Yet they serve with such great joy.

I am excited about this new partnership with World Vision. Being part of the team of Joy Ambassadors, I want to be useful and to let my gifts and talents make a difference to the poor. The under privileged. In my small ways. With the team.

Thank you Bro for always being inspirational. It is through clips like these that we know that there are many out who do more than token giving.

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” – Luke 12:48

And we in Singapore has been blessed by a good government and good education. Happy 47th Birthday Singapore!

Do join me in this journey of helping the poor and underprivileged. Trust me, you will become a more beautiful person:)

Useful links

Bob Pierce, Founder of World Vision

National Day Celebrations 2012

Brother Michael Broughton – De La Salle University

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