When: September 2013 – January 11, 2014
Where: (multiple venues)
Number of Hours: 25
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is an organization which grants wishes to children with life-threatening diseases. (more about them on their website – http://www.makeawish.org.ph/) In August of 2013, the MAW Foundation decided to set up in Cebu, Philippines, and were looking for volunteers, and thus, they came for an orientation to our school. I found this endeavor very thoughtful, and thus, decided to be a part of it and grant a wish.
We were to form into groups of around 6-8 people, and were to come up with plans for the fund-raising, and the actual wish-granting for the wish kids. The group I was part of was called the “Happy Campers”, and my group members were Gabriele Baljak, Regine Dacay, Aya Nagano, Reina Yuguchi, Beth Walton, Krista Burress and Cassandra Marquis. Being a group of eight people, we were assigned to two wish kids – Journey, a cancer patient who liked Ben 10 and wanted a Ben 10 Omnitryx, and Bryan, who like Phineas and Ferb, and Math, and wanted a Skateboard.
Due to being unable to contact our wish kids, since they did not live in Cebu, we were not able to interview them, although, representatives from the MAW foundation did tell us details about the likes and dislikes of the kids, and what they were like, so we could plan the wish grant accordingly. Initially, instead of Bryan, we were assigned to another kid, named Ruby, who wanted a Taylor Swift guitar, but due to problems in contacting, and her not being able to come to Cebu very often with her guardian, the MAW representatives decided to assign us another kid who was easier to contact (Bryan).
On our first meeting, we had gotten to know about the wish kids, and we made our initial plans (although these were changed later, as the wish kid was changed). A month or so later, in October, we then met up again to finalize our plans, and to buy the gifts – we bought the gifts for Journey, as all of us went together to the mall (we bought him Ben 10 clothes, an Omnitryx, and other Ben 10 themed supplies. Later, in November, we then planned for Bryan, and decided that it would be nice to have the wish grants for both the kids together, since they both were boys, and would get along together very well – making their experience even better. For Bryan, we bought a skateboard, Phineas and Ferb themed supplies and some Math books for his age group.
The planning process taught me a lot about teamwork, and being able to manage time, people and resources (since we had to use the money we collected by letting all group members pay fraction of it, wisely) effectively. We did have problems in agreeing with a final date of the wish-granting, and obviously, came across many obstacles as a group and as individuals, but in the end this gave all of us a learning experience.
As part of the actual event, which took place on January 11, 2014, we decided to have it at one of our group member’s house (Regine Dacay) – where we decorated the event area accordingly. We planned to have a scavenger hunt for the two kids, wherein they were to go around the venue, along with the guides (which were some of the group members) to different stations, where they answered questions about their favourite characters, and got gifts. The stations finally led to the venue of the main event, where we then had lunch, and later, had the boys break piñatas, which were full of candy.
The wish-granting was a lot of fun, as I got to know those kids, and, moreover, I learnt some Cebuano, as I asked helped from some of the my group members in communicating with the kids. It is true that language does not limit anyone from communicating effectively, as even though most of us did not know their language, we played with the kids, and enjoyed our time. What was even more fulfilling was to see the priceless smile on their faces when they received the gifts and played with us. To be able to make kids with such hardships in life at such a young age smile and laugh was truly, an enriching experience which I would probably never forget! 🙂