I have known Brittany, LCW Administrative Assistant who is currently living in Dumaguete, and her family, LCW President – Glenna and Treasurer – Melanie, since I was six years old, and ever since that time, I have heard them talk about Little Children of the Philippines. I remember looking at a globe in my classroom, and spinning it all the way around to the other side to see just how far away the Philippines was – spoiler alert – it’s like really far. So far, in fact, that it didn’t even seem real that my friend and her grandma could go there.

Fast forward 18 years and I am still reeling from my two weeks in the Philippines with LCP. I am sleeping at night (and falling asleep really late… thank you, jet lag) and dreaming of the colorful painted exterior of the pedicabs; the sweet and succulent taste of the mangoes; but mostly, the warm embraces from Filipino people I had only just met.

Much of what I knew about Little Children of the Philippines was encompassed in what I knew about their child sponsorship program, which is absolutely incredible, and I will share more about it later, but truly – sponsorship is just the tip of the iceberg of what LCP does.

I had the privilege of visiting several of the different programs at LCP, and was blown away at the impact each program is making in the community.

First, I spent time in the Handclasp Therapy Center, where physical therapists provide play-based therapy for local children with disabilities. What a special place! The therapists are so passionate about helping these children, and they spend each day helping the kids as they do exercise after exercise, and then rewarding the children with sweet smiles and hugs. Families travel from far away to receive this care several times a week.

That afternoon, I got to help a few of the students in the Alternative Learning Students program (ALS) with their reading. ALS helps to provide students who are behind academically with the tools they need – specialized teaching on a small scale – to get them back on track.

During my stay, I was able to visit two soup kitchens, and this was maybe my favorite ministry, if I had to choose (don’t make me choose – I love them all so much!). In two locations in the community, LCP runs soup kitchens in close proximity to elementary schools. In the Philippines, students are released for an hour to go home for lunch. Some of them live a great distance away, and have to walk there, but even more, they might not have any food to eat at home. Couple those facts with the heat on their walk back to school, and these children have to sit through the remainder of their school day lethargic and hungry. Students whose teachers observe this behavior are recommended to LCP and then invited to eat lunch at the soup kitchens. Their meal consists of rice and a soup. For most of these children, this is the only meal they will get all day. Brittany and I got to visit two different soup kitchens, and I was inspired by the genuine joy the ladies who run the soup kitchens showed as they serve these kids every single day.

I was honored to be a part of a few community Bible studies throughout the week. Families involved in the sponsorship program either come to the LCP campus for Bible study or attend an LCP-lead Bible study in their community. I enjoyed meeting some of these families, and visiting Ticala, one of the mountain communities LCP serves.

LCP has several dorms for children to live in if their family situations are not safe for a number of reasons. Starting at age seven, a little boy or girl can live in the LCP dorms until they finish high school. Brittany spends every Friday night with the girls in the Wee Women dorm, hosting a movie night. I LOVED the sweet girls in the Wee Women dorm. Regardless of whatever hardship they have faced in their family lives before they came to live in the LCP dorms, they were welcoming and kind, and made me feel right at home.

It took a little over 24 hours in the Philippines for me to ask Brittany nonchalantly, “What if, at the end of this week, I want to get a sponsor child?” She responded with, “Well, we could make that happen.”

We went on a home visit to see where my potential sponsor child lived. His house was deep in a cluster of other houses, all built with light materials such as bamboo and plywood. His floor was dirt, and all seven members of his family sleep in a space smaller than my closet back home. On our drive back to the LCP office, I sat, taken aback by what I had seen. I was overwhelmed. I thought to myself, “The problem of poverty is too big. I can’t fix it.” I wanted to throw every one of my pesos out the window and give all I had to help these people. But that’s not the answer. It’s a complicated problem, and there’s no simple solution. I cannot fix the problem, but I can help.

I will sponsor Ronald, who is 9, loves math, and wants to be a police officer when he grows up, for $35 a month. It will ensure that LCP is checking in on him weekly, making sure he is going to school and that he has what he needs to be successful. Ronald will have the opportunity to make a difference in his family and his community, and in turn, maybe the tools that he’s been given through LCP will help him change the world.

The problem of poverty in our world is absolutely, positively overwhelming. I write this as I type it on my computer, in my air-conditioned home with running water. We live in a place so far from this problem, we don’t even know it exists. Sometimes it seems too big for one person to make a difference. But I am here to tell you that LCP is making a difference. Their various programs – and I didn’t even get to see all of them – are having a monumental impact on their community. They are working tirelessly to give the Filipino people a hand up, not a hand out, and that, my friends, is what will make all the difference.

To contribute to any of our HELPS programs, click here. To read more, click here. And to sponsor a child, click here. You can make a difference and give a hand up to a brighter future to a child in need, today!