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Under the trees, out in the sun

Kristine from Iloilo, Philippines

By Correspondent Kristine Buenavista in Iloilo, Philippines

–When I was around 7, I’d walk with my friends from the barrio to the town center for school. Such experience in a tender age has always made me dream of becoming a teacher in far-flung places.

I am 28 now. I can’t say that I am a full-time teacher (I’ve experienced teaching English as Secondary Language though). I still carry with me that warm feeling to share knowledge, education and love to kids.

Four years ago, I and a couple of friends have talked about organizing a youth group in our little town, Barotac Viejo. We’ve seen it – talented young people without an avenue to polish their skills and young kids without alternative ways to learn. We had to make that dream happen. It all started by talking to other young people who are inclined to the arts and creativity. After a week or two, we have informed and invited around thirty persons. The first general meeting happened. From there, plans and events were plotted. Sure there were challenges but we were able to conquer those. In no time, we had small gigs to raise funds. We would organize performances and share them to the public. In return, their little sum of donation were all used up to buy paper, pens, crayons, snacks and other materials we used for our “Doodle your Dream” program.

“Doodle your Dream” allowed us to gather kids under trees and share to them the joy of just doodling. From that experience, I was able to marvel at the world of imagination which only purity and innocence can give. We asked them to tell us their dreams – it was enriching just to listen to them. We came up with this idea having this in mind: art as therapy.

As the years unfolded, we’ve come up with other events – and last year, we shared “Out of the Box”, a free art workshops (month-long) for high school students under the Special Program for the Arts here in a local high school. I invited people I know who are impassioned in their field of the arts: creative writing, dance, theater, visual arts and multimedia (video and photography) to teach. Through the event, they were able to share their time, energy and passion while also learning from the younger people (aspiring artists).

This year, after all the youth organization work (and all the challenges sustaining it), I started fulfilling a dream of visiting communities and share storybooks to children. Other people have helped me gather around 200 books and these books were shared for free in a pedicab (parked in the public market). In some days, I and loved-ones have visited a couple of barrios to give away books and to story tell with the kids.

These years of going out there in communities to share lives with kids have opened up my heart. I’ve seen how optimistic these young people are despite poverty. Their energy is just inspiring. I’ve shared time and talents with other volunteers and I’ve realized the beauty and power of collaboration. I’ve also realized how little actions can mean so big to others.

I still think of those days when I had to walk (a bit far for my little legs) with other kids to school. There will always be this warmth, this nostalgia. This reminder to find time to share.

Kristine Buenavista Kristine Buenavista
Kristine is from Iloilo, Philippines. She likes long aimless walks and kitchen conversations (while cooking). She was able to represent their youth organization in a study-seminar program in Gummersbach, Germany (November 2010).

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