Empowering Women: Midway Colleges Outreach Program at Tahanan ni…

In the heart of Mampulog, Bitas, Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, amidst the whispers of rustling leaves and the gentle hum of nature, lies Tahanan ni Maria, a sanctuary for the innocent souls who have endured the harsh realities of life far too soon. Here, where the laughter of children should resonate, echoes the pain of the past, for Tahanan ni Maria has been a shelter for those children who have long fought their battles and survived.  

However, for those who are left in the shadow, Tahanan ni Maria will remain and always be painted as a lonesome place filled with individuals with dark and heartbreaking stories. Only those who allow themselves to be lost in the canvas will truly see that behind its wall and narrow entrance, hid not only a shelter but a home for brave and kind souls. Lucky enough, Midway Colleges Inc. (MCI) is one of the few privileged who has witnessed its beauty despite the thorns surrounding it.  

Entrance of Midway Colleges Employees  

Spearheaded by a dedicated team of volunteers, Midway Colleges organized an outreach program in Tahanan ni Maria not only to give them a spark of joy but also to instill a sense of pride to the young women of Maria. Aligned with the Women’s Month celebration, the program specifically aimed at empowering young girls who despite facing adversities stood resilient. 

Hosted by Mr. Alejandro De Leon and Ms. Marites Rosendo, the outreach program kicked off with an inspirational talk from the Academic Director, Dr. Richard L. Oandasan, whose words transcended mere speeches, reaching deep into the heart of the children. Through a heartfelt rendition of a song “Pananagutan” which conveys a message that “walang sinuman ang nabubuhay para sa sarili lamang” (no one lives for oneself alone), the director instilled in them the essence of communal living and the power of extending a helping hand.  

Breaking the barriers 

Following the talk, the atmosphere shifted to one of exuberance as the hosts led the children into a fun-filled dance. Energized by the upbeat music, the children, although hesitant at first, danced freely, with their laughers filling the air. The promise of prizes for outstanding performances added an extra layer of excitement, which motivated the children to showcase their dance skills and best moves.  

The dance activity allowed the volunteers to penetrate and break through the walls built by the children. This has founded an immediate connection between the two parties. As the dance progressed, it became evident that the children were not only enjoying themselves but also letting their guards down, opening them to the volunteers in ways previously unseen. Their laughter became more genuine, their movements more relaxed, and their interactions more spontaneous.  

Purgation of the emotions 

Yet, amidst the revelry, there was a poignant moment of reflection as the children engaged in an art session led by Ms. Miles O. Yee. From the beginning, it is evident how these children tried to conceal and repress their feelings. It is as if the walls the volunteers were able to crack was once again covered with patches. But as they delved into the art-making process, their pent-up emotions uncontrollably spilled onto the canvas, each stroke and color reflecting their inner turmoil and joys.  

One remarkable scene in this session was when one of the children drew a family portrait. The picture itself screams for her thirst for the warmth that a family provides. Notably, some of them also drew a picture with their friends. Whereas, despite not being related, they gave them the warmth of a family they all longed for. They found comfort, love, and security with the people they may not share the same blood with but share the same experience which served as a strong bond that links them to one another.  

Engaging young women of Maria to self-care 

After the heartfelt session, Ms. Lyca Mercado, an assistant gym instructor at MCI, led an engaging talk about taking care of one’s body in various aspects: physical, mental, and emotional. She also emphasized the importance of maintaining good posture for spinal health and overall well-being where she also encouraged the children to do some basic stretching exercises to improve posture and relieve muscle tension. Through her talk, she aspired that these children would learn how to take care of themselves as much as they take care of the things that are important for them. This generally highlights self-care and self-love which would help them improve their overall well-being.

The outreach program ended with a small feast, gift-giving, and courtesy of gratitude. Yet, despite the conclusion, the impact that these children left with the volunteers in just a single event will resonate beyond its duration. Their story will serve as a flame for the institution to redirect its purpose and aspire to reach more communities to empower.  

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