Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My World Vision Shirt Story

We see things differently when we learn to open our eyes

I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for nine years where extravagance is commonly charged under medical companies’ “marketing” expenses. When I left my company, I searched for other opportunities where the lavish culture was also practiced. However, God had other plans for me.

One day, a friend of mine who works for an international NGO called and asked me if I’m interested to work for World Vision Philippines. I was offered a two-month leafleting gig inside a mall where I was supposed to ask shoppers for donations. I wanted to decline but my wife convinced me to give it a try. So, along with 15 trainees, I was deployed to a World Vision community in Marigondon, Naic, Cavite.

In the community, the staff in-charge encouraged us to interact with the people living there. As I reluctantly toured the place, I came upon a skinny little boy who was barely six. He was wearing a pair of worn-out slippers studded with safety pins all over just to keep the parts together. He was trying to lift 10 kilos of raw materials for rag cloths and doormats to bring to his home 12 blocks away. He smiled at me and I felt my stomach tighten.

I asked his name and his reason for doing such heavy work. Ernesto scratched the scabs and mosquito bites on his skinny body and simply said, “Pambili po ng gamot sa katarata ng Lola ko.” As he went on his way, I couldn’t help but wonder how many more rag cloths it would take before Ernesto could buy his grandmother’s medicine. I knew very well that it would cost a lot, because I used to sell those medicines myself.

Later, after we went back to the lodging house, I could not hold the broken-heartedness I felt that day. So I went to my room and on bended knees I cried and prayed. I realized that the excessive lifestyle I enjoyed in my previous work was not really “under company’s expense”. It was literally shouldered by a six-year-old boy who simply wants to help buy medicine for his half-blind grandmother.

Before we were sent back to Manila to begin the mall-based fundraising campaign, I was given an orange-colored World Vision T-shirt. That short immersion trip to Naic, Cavite happened almost nine years ago but I still have that shirt to this day. I like wearing it every time I engage people and encourage them to help. Somehow, it reminds me of Ernesto and inspires me to share his story to other people in the hopes that they would see the plight of the poor differently.

Over the years, I accumulated other World Vision shirts in my closet. Some of them I gave away to friends, but I held on to this one because I consider it very special. For me, this orange World Vision shirt represents Ernesto and the other Filipino children in the same plight. Every time I wear it, it somehow fuels my passion to keep inspiring other people to help poor children like him. 

Orange is the color of hope and before this shirt becomes all worn out; I’d like to pass it on to someone as a symbol of hope to those who have none.

I love this shirt! Now I want someone else to love it too! I support the Electrolux Wash-athon Clothes Donation Advocacy.
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