Volunteer Kythe Foundation Philippines

I missed the annual Mooncake Dice Games scheduled this year. I’ve been doing all sorts of activities related to blogging, attending events and going on trips included, and time just really flew by. I’m pausing today to shine the light on some “travel” experiences in Manila through a series of short posts. This is one of them.

There were oxygen tanks displayed for passersby and there were cries from a distance. I set foot in the more unnoticed portion of the National Children’s Hospital

We came as part of a parent association doing outreach activities for the children of Kythe for a day.

Kythe Foundation is a non-profit organization in the Philippines that provides psychosocial care to children with chronic illnesses like cancer.

There was a Santa Claus suit for the upcoming holidays, board games for children and play sets that were meant to entertain the children. We brought meals and drinks for the children of Kythe, something to enjoy with their families with after the activity.

We were briefed about the activity for the day and given some reminders for the newbies to observe the guidelines that Kythe and the Hospital has set about this meetup with the kids and their parents. We were ushered into the Touch Theraphy room and the activity began.

For this day, we held a Mooncake Dice Game for these kids who had little or no knowledge of this celebration held every year. 

The rules were simplified (this version of playing the Mooncake Dice Game is actually good already). Click here to know more about how to play the Philippines' Mooncake Dice Game in Mid-Autumn.

We formed a circle and the children, the parents and I played together for an hour, plus an hour more with a different set of children when I came back the next week. 

Daddies were all about 

and mommies were either playing for the children 

or eager to hand out the prizes.

Every one was a winner on that day.

During that first debriefing, I cried. I confessed to them that I had actually been successful in college to escape from these compulsory experiences, that I was actually in school for the grades and awards instead of the dreaded ROTC or NSTP program. On this day and already in a year of travel blogging, my view had shifted from being a person who can only make time for these things after I’ve retired (go to school, get good grades, work, save some money, work for a multinational company, get married, make lots of money, have children, be recognized for my work, have my own business, be successful, retire, maybe help out, travel the world, then eventually die) to a person who can change the world now. I had begun learning about living each and every moment without regret and seeing as much of the world as I can while earning and doing something I’m passionate about today. 

I also told them that I would rather have this than to be forced into “volunteering” while I was in school, when all I could think of was to complain about the curriculum requirements (e.g. NSTP which accounts for 3 units for around 4 semesters). Bottom line: I wouldn’t change my past and I’m glad I came across this experience when I have matured enough to choose a career that allows me to look for enriching adventures like these.

In the midst of all the fun, I overheard Marvin (my game partner) ask a younger, quiet and pale-looking child beside him, “May masakit ba? Ok ka lang?” (Are you feeling any pain? Are you okay?). She nodded slightly, he smiled and lovingly gave his prizes to her. The realization hit me hard.

Scotty and Marvin

There is no guarantee on how long these kids will stay in the National Children’s Hospital cancer ward. I was looking for Scotty the next week and they said he went discharged already. Even those, who have successfully made it home, like this all-smiles winner, returned because their sickness has relapsed or had taken another form. 

What moved me was that they share what they have and look out for other people, to the little ones especially those who can only feel the pain, who don’t necessarily have any blood relations with. There is something to be learned from these children and it’s not pity for what they’re going through that made me cry. It will vary from person to person on what it's going to be.

My life, like these children, has no guarantee either and is no better. That when I've realized that I have nothing else left to lose, my life can be about being open to be contributed to and about allowing myself to be moved by being fully with others for an hour or two. 

There is truly a form of healing that comes from sharing, togetherness and oneness. There is no space and time that separates us. The Scottish term for that is Kything.

Writing about my experience can help get the message across. Kythe is open for volunteers and donations (blood is on their most-needed list) all over the Philippines. You can reach Kythe through their Facebook Fan Page and look for Ms. Cynthia Manzanares. You can also leave your email below or contact me through meloy.co@gmail.com and I'll pass the message.