CNN Hero Efren Continues to Inspire!

I’ve just finished watching a local Philippine TV show featuring a segment on CNN Hero Efren Peñaflorida and the Dynamic Teen Company.

It was truly inspiring! I was specially touched by the story of Cris Valdez, at only 10 years old the youngest volunteer for K4. This ten-year-old regularly saves money from his daily allowance so that he can give away slippers to children who are more needy than him on his birthday!

As a volunteer, he also helps in giving baths to the smaller children from the depressed areas and administering medical aid such as cleaning wounds and applying band-aids. When the episode was taped for TV, the DTC team was serving children of homeless families living in a cemetery, and Cris was very actively helping out.

Here’s a video of Cris showing how he was when he first came under the care of DTC:


(Note: I think the DTC people initially named the child “Kesz” when he first came under their care because that was how he pronounced his name at that time. But by the time he was interviewed for the TV program, he could talk very well indeed :).)

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What a HUGE difference Efren and his team have made in the life of this child! Thanks be to God!

Efren and DTC are very effectively instilling godly values in their volunteers and child beneficiaries. They are spreading not just education but solid character formation!

Kudos, blessings, and power to them. They make me so proud to be Filipino!

Go, Efren! Go, DTC! May God continue to richly bless and empower you. And as more and more people see your good works, may they also give glory to your Father in heaven Who is using you mightily to bless others.

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Related post:
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Filipino Slum Kid is One of the CNN Heroes for 2009
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Filipino Slum Kid is One of the CNN Heroes for 2009

Efren Peñaflorida rose from the slums of Cavite, Philippines to help other slum kids. Now his work is being recognized and supported by people all over the world, and he has been recognized as one of the CNN Heroes for 2009. His story is a very inspiring example of how one man can make a change, even with very limited resources.

The CNN print article on him is here, and the CNN video feature is here.

His story is also featured here: CNN honors Peñaflorida as modern day hero,

and at a TV Patrol episode:

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You can visit their group’s website at Dynamic Teen Company—Making a Difference.

He’s also part of the Facebook group “We Are The Change”—of which I am also a member :-).

We can do it, people. We CAN make the world a better place—even if just one starfish at a time :-). Efren is doing it. Let us all support him and others like him—and also do our part in making the world a better place wherever God has placed us.

May God’s rich blessings be upon all of you!

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(Acknowledgment:
I first became aware of Efren Peñaflorida, his work, and the CNN Heroes program through a post at Rico Hizon’s Facebook “wall”. Mr. Hizon is a Business News Anchor with BBC World News. He’s the first-ever Filipino broadcast journalist to work for two of the world’s most prestigious television news networks, CNBC and BBC World News. His Facebook page is full of good news and inspiring stories about the Philippines, aiming to unite and inspire nationalism among his Filipino FB friends. Kudos to you, Mr. Hizon!)
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Related post:
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CNN Hero Efren Continues to Inspire!
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Help Provide Safe Drinking Water to Thousands in Africa

For only US$ 33, each of us can help provide clean, safe drinking water to tens of thousands of people in Africa.

I just received an email from BirthdayAlarm. They have teamed up with the non-profit organization charity:water . The vision of Charity: Water is to help provide clean, safe drinking water to billions of people all over the world who don’t have access to it. Its founder, Scott Harrison, had the inspirted idea to celebrate his 32nd birthday in September last year by asking for donations of US$ 32 each from concerned individuals to help benefit needy people in Kenya, particularly a hospital which sees about a hundred patients a day, but out of whose taps can come only muddy water.

92 people responded, and most gave more than $ 32 each. They were able to raise $150,000. They dug a well which gave that hospital and the community around it access to clean drinking water.

The idea worked. So this year, they’re aiming to raise ten times that amount, in order to help provide water in Ethiopia. They want to provide wells to at least 300 villages in that country.

For his 33rd birthday this September, Scott is asking for $ 33 from people whose hearts are moved to help provide this very important resource. Most of us take water for granted, but there are tens of thousands in less-developed places who don’t have ready access to it.

Thirty-three dollars. It’s worth it. Give a gift of life. Let’s give a gift of drinking water for thousands of our fellow human beings.

Check it out here:

http://www.charitywater.org/birthdays/intro/trailer2.html?MID=15

or at

http://borninseptember.org.

 

God bless you, Scott!

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American Idols Shout to the Lord

I don’t really watch American Idol, so I missed the two episodes last week where, it turned out, the remaining contestants sang Darlene Zschech’s beautiful song Shout to the Lord.

I was just alerted to this through my favorite blog Parchment and Pen, which asked: What’s up with American Idol and Jesus? and posted a link to this YouTube video:

Maybe the program is just pandering to the strong conservative Christian market base, but that’s OK. Thanks be to God that praises to Jesus Christ are sung on US TV primetime.

(Seems that something happened behind the scenes, though, because the name “Jesus” was replaced by “Shepherd” in the first night’s performance, during the actual Idol Gives Back telecast. But the same song was sung again the following night, with the name “Jesus” placed back!)

Canadian Idol, on the other hand, seems to be already open to Christian songs. Their 2004 winner, the very talented Kalan Porter, performed this awesome number on that show, a moving rendition of MercyMe’s I Can Only Imagine:


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(Bonus clip 🙂 : Porter also sang this powerful song, for which a fan made a video montage on YouTube:)

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(Note: Wikipedia has a note about the performance of Shout to the Lord in last week’s Idol Gives Back show where the name “Jesus” was replaced by “Shepherd”, but was placed back in the following night’s repeat performance of the song. The Parchment and Pen post from which I got the original heads-up has interesting views on this from various commenters.)
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Reaching Out To Children

Bad blogger. BAD, bad blogger. Haven’t visited his own blog for two weeks. Shame!

So very sorry. Been busy. Aside from the evangelism and discipleship program for microentrepreneurs which my wife and I are mainly involved in right now, I’ve also been preparing for a possible short-term teaching stint in Davao City, in the southern Philippines. I’ve been asked to teach a summer module on the Old Testament prophets (listed as Isaiah-Malachi in modern Protestant and Catholic Bibles). Lord willing, if everything goes well, that will happen this coming Apr 21-30.

And, this weekend, I accompanied my wife as she checked out some communities where the ministry she’s involved in will give gifts to children from economically disadvantaged families. These gifts are solicited by Samaritan’s Purse from children of more economically advantaged families as part of their Operation Christmas Child program. Through this program, Christian families, particularly the children, are given opportunities for hands-on giving to financially disadvantaged families from other countries, especially to other children from all over the world. This teaches them that Christianity is about loving God AND loving other people (cf. Mark 12:28-34), including those from other countries.

The Philippine partner of Samaritan’s Purse, Sowers of the Word Ministries, has scheduled gift-giving operations in Zambales and the Mountain Province from April 7-9. As part of preparations for those activities, scouts have been sent to “prepare the way”. My wife was the scout for the Zambales area. I accompanied her as her regular “go-fer” and bodyguard 🙂 .

We went to the municipality of Botolan, about 200 kms NW of Manila. Because of traffic conditions, the 200-km trip was a five-hour bus ride. Our bus left the station at 8am Saturday, and we arrived at Agora, Botolan, at 1pm.

Most of the beneficiaries of the Apr 7 gift-giving will be Aeta children. The Aetas are an indigenous tribe, many of whom were forced to evacuate their lands and were resettled by the government in the wake of the cataclysmic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 (said to be 8-10 times greater than the eruption of Mt. St. Helens). The volcano is located at the borders of the provinces of Zambales, Pampanga, and Tarlac. The eruption totally destroyed the United States’ Clark Air Base in Pampanga, and severely damaged the U.S. Naval Base in Subic, Zambales, at that time said to be the largest U.S. Navy installation in the Pacific.

Below are some pictures from our “scouting trip” 🙂 :

Perry and Mel on a carabao taxi

Me and Perry on a carabao “taxi”

(The locals jokingly refer to this carabao-drawn bamboo platform mounted on two wheels  as their version of the taxi. The driver and the passengers have to sit on the sides and balance each other, or else the whole thing will collapse 😦 ).

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Perry on her way to the venue for the gift-giving

Perry (with backpack) on her way to the venue for the gift-giving

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Perry with some of the children

Perry with some of the children

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Going on up…

Going on up…

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Aeta children

Aeta children

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Aeta Child

Aeta child

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Aeta child with older sister

Aeta child with older sister

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Some more children

Some more children

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The Simple Life

Now that the iPhone has been chosen by Time magazine as the best invention of the year, expect more pressure to own this or something similar, which competes as the latest, coolest product of human ingenuity. Ads already bombard us daily with enticements to buy the latest, neatest, coolest gadgets. We can certainly expect much more this Christmas season. 

Ads also allure us to go out to that place where the family will have endless fun and unbelievable bonding while eating burgers and fries (or fried chicken!). But of course that’s so pedestrian. “In” people hang out at Starbucks or Figaro’s or UCC, or wherever else they sell overpriced coffee with fancy names. “In” people will pay four to five times the amount for coffee which they can get elsewhere, to be seen at these places—and thereby impress the officemates they detest.

And even in the Philippines, where unemployment is 7.8 % and the official average family income is 3,440 US dollars per year, there are TV shows dedicated to showing viewers how to enjoy “the good life”, with guides to spas and reviews of various products for pampering oneself. 

But for now, the gotta-have-it status symbol is probably the iPhone, which is still not supposed to be sold nor usable in the Philippines. But, hey, hacking it (and not destroying it in the process) just adds to the status of owning it. But for those who really want to flaunt that they have “arrived”, the thing to own is the Hummer, which should be usable in about 1/10 of 1/10th percent of Metro Manila’s wide and traffic-free (NOT!) roads*.

The cost of four to five posings at Starbucks can feed an orphan or homeless child for a month. Here’s something to think about: what if we were content to hang out at places with less status, or to buy the cellphone model which may not have all the latest bells and whistles, but is enough to meet our needs?

This is not to say that people don’t really need the top-of-the-line cellphone models or the iPhone. I agree that, depending on the situation, job, context, etc., there are people who would really benefit from such advanced technology and where the benefits and actual usage of features would justify the cost. But what if, as a general rule, we refuse the temptation to buy much more than we really need and instead consistently, deliberately settle for what is best suited to our actual needs and context—and then we give the difference to a favorite charity, church, ministry, school, foundation, etc.? What if Filipinos did not buy Hummers or some such vehicles which are so obscene in the context of the grinding poverty of the majority of their countrymen?

Maybe less people would be hungry, homeless, or suicidally or homicidally desperate, if only those who already have more than enough would say, “Yes, we have enough”.

Here’s a “radical” “omg” idea. How about abstaining from purchases of new gadgets or clothes, or going to the movies or eating out, for a month? Challenge—can we do it for two months? For three months? Six months? For ONE YEAR??? (Wow, omg!) The money we don’t spend we can then share with the less financially blessed. What do you think will happen?

Here’s an excellent, excellent post on giving LESS a chance…
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2007/10/living_with_les.html

I suspect that this type of fasting—from consumerism—would be very good for the soul. Indeed, simple is beautiful!

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(*From my surfings, I gather that, aside from the iPhone, the current obsession in the West among those who love to keep up with the Joneses is high-definition TV. Wait til that becomes available here 😉 .)
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Related posts:

What Would Jesus Buy?

This is OBSCENE!

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