By Maia Fortich-Poblete
Two weeks ago, I shared the story of Home Care for Girls, a small haven for abused, orphaned, and abandoned girls here in Cagayan de Oro. For years, they – the beautiful people who run the place – were left with very little hope that the home they created for the girls would be brought back to life. But just as they were about to give up, the ladies of Lourdes College High School batch 1974 came along.
It took only a visit to the home to get everyone working and soon enough, the once dilapidated building was alive again and looked as if it were new!
How the Story Started
Ms. Laura Cua, chairman of LCHS ‘74’s social outreach program, said that everything started after their Ruby (40th) anniversary. “We agreed to have an outreach activity because it’s not only our way of giving back, it’s also one way of keeping the bond alive. We saw it as a way of keeping the fire burning in time for the next jubilee, which was in five years’ time.”
So, the group decided to have an outreach activity every quarter. And they all promised to do it religiously. Batch president Ms. Tina Siojo says the drive to do something for others was also a common denominator. “On my part, I saw it as a way of serving God through others.”
The group started with Balay Canossa by giving out school supplies and uniforms (including shoes and socks). This is their first quarter salvo (March to April). Their Manila group (those based in Manila) have an “Araw Para kay Lolo at Lola” at Mother Teresa in Tayuman, a home for the elderly, the sick, and the dying. This happens in July every year.
In August each year, LCHS Batch ’74 goes to St. Joseph Home for the Aged. “St. Augustine Goes to St. Joseph” is the fiesta activity of the Cagayan de Oro group.
“Pasko sa Macanhan”, on the other hand, is their Christmas activity. This is a Christmas party for the children in the community, particularly for the girls of Home Care for Gilrs (whom they fondly call “the Macanhan Kids”).
At that time, when they were starting out with the outreach activities, they had a “search party” here in Cagayan de Oro. This group saw the Home Care for Girls building, which was really dilapidated at that time. The beds, the rooms, even the toilet were in bad condition; so bad that it would be difficult to imagine someone using them or someone living there. But the Macanhan Girls lived there!
So the batch decided to look for a benefactor who could help them finance the rebuilding needs of Home Care for Girls. And they were able to do just that! This benefactor pledged to help with the remodeling and refurbishing of the home. So everything – including the interiors – was torn down so the building can be rebuilt into a new one. It was also repainted.
That started the whole thing. After that, all good things followed. A lot of people pitched in –including their families. And then there were new double deck beds, mattresses, pillows, bed sheets, and other essentials, which all came from members of the batch and their families. Ms. Cua and her daughter would go to SM to buy shoes, school bags, socks, umbrella, and other school essentials for the girls.
The batch also helped provide services for therapy, which is a major need for a place like Home Care for Girls. Scholarships were also given.
At that time, they were also working on the accreditation for Home Care for Girls, which they eventually got last 2017 (level 1). The rehabilitation of the building and the facilities played a big part in the approval of their application for accreditation.
This became the light that sparked within each of the LCHS ’74 members. For Ms. Cua, particularly, it became a personal journey especially after she got to know the girls and realized how talented and determined they were to have a better life, to get better opportunities.
For the batch, the best reward is seeing two of the girls walk up onstage and receive their diplomas. These girls became like family to the LCHS Batch ’74 ladies because they practically saw them grow up and develop into beautiful individuals despite their painful past. And stories like this are what keep each one of them working hard so that more girls – those who were left, violated, and orphaned – will know that hope is waiting for them; that there’s always a rainbow after every storm.
Lourdes College High School Batch ’74 partied with the girls of Home Care for Girls last February 11 at Casa de Canitoan. Rainbow Fest was a day of games, food, fun, and a lot of fun activities.
For everyone who knows the story of the girls and their “home”, it was a day filled with love, thanksgiving, and hope. The girls had fun and openly expressed their love for everyone who was there. It was a sight to behold every time a little girl would approach one of the ladies, hug her, and then say, “Di ta ka buhian hangtud ugma!” or “I love you!”.
To the ladies (and their families) of Lourdes College High School Batch ’74, God bless you all for everything you do! May your tribe increase!
(For those who are interested to help Home Care for Girls or support LCHS ‘74’s projects for Home Care for Girls, please send me a message through firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll connect you with a representative of the batch.)