Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Spotlight Child of the Week, 8/29/2012

Meet thirteen-year-old Ma. Kristina! She lives with her father and three siblings in Quezon City in the Philippines. She enjoys reading and has a talent for dance. Their family of five struggles to get by on $153 a month. Quezon City was one of the areas impacted by the recent flooding in the Philippines, so that $153 may have dropped drastically. I would love to Sponsor her myself, but I cannot add another to my group at this time ... at least, not on my own. Care to team up with me to bring her hope for a brighter tomorrow?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Spotlight Child of the Week, 8/21/2012

Meet Lanie Fe! She and her four siblings live with their mother in Manila on only $94 per month. Lanie turned twelve this past February. Like many girls her age, she enjoys playing indoors and outdoors with her friends, and she has a fondness for dancing. Won't you give this lovely young lady a reason to dance for joy by giving her the hope and promise of Sponsorship?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Saturday Mail

I stopped at my mailbox on the way out to a friend's house last night, and behold! I discovered a Children International envelope inside. Its thickness indicated that it contained more than one letter, and I was excited to open it and find FOUR letters AND two photos inside! The photos were Maria and Joyce's annual photos. They were accompanied by CR letters. In addition, there were CP letters from Jie and Jasmin!

Dear Ms. Dillon,

First of all, I would like to greet you. A pleasant hello to you and your family! I hope that you're always in good condition.

I am now eleven years old and a grade five pupil. My teacher now is Miss Carmelita Carillo. She is kind and good to us. She inspires me.

I would like to say thank you a lot for all the gifts you have given to me, like the birthday and Easter gifts and also the school supplies and Special Hug for my parents. Thank you very much for all of these. You're my inspiration and my family, too.

Take care and God bless.

Lovingly yours,
Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! This is by far the most personal of Maria's letters (which is strange, since CRs tend to be less personal than CPs)--she's starting to warm up to me, which is such a wonderful feeling! And her English, as always, is just amazing.

Dear Ms. Dillon,

Hi! Good day! I hope that your family are in a good condition. May you are in good health.

I thank you for all the benefits you had shared to me. I really appreciate them. I'm so very proud to have you in our life. Now, I still continue my studies, because of your support to me. You are big help not only to me but also to my family.

Hmmf. By the way we have so many activities in our school this July, because in the Philippines it was a "Nutrition Month Celebration." We cooked a nutritious food, and eating a fruits. We had also a parade in the morning, participated by all pupils and teachers in our school, and in the afternoon have programs.

This coming Aug. 19, I am celebrationg my 14 bithday. My mother planned to go to church.

Once again thank you very much for the continuous support for me. I am praying that God will always give you guide and protection.

Take care always ..... God Bless!

Sincerely Yours,
She is the second of my girls to mention Church in relation to a birthday--is this a custom in the Philippines, I wonder? I love the "Hmmf!" ... Jie does that, too! And today is her birthday -- Happy 14th Birthday, Joyce!

Dear Shannon,

Hi!!! I'm fine here, hope you are too. I've read your messages to me. It's so nice that you go to Julio's place. Hope that your vacation there was so very good and nice. It's autumn. :) Me and my family seen the postcard that you gave to me, the bear hug, the tree stem, the kingston beach and the Fort Lauderdale.  I like the Kingston Beach, the water is very clear and very silent place ... Here in our country the most popular beach is the Boracay beach, but I never go there because it's very far to our province. Here in Bicol the best tourist spot is the perfect cone shape "Mayon Volcano." It's very nice to see. Hope you see the Mayon Volcano, especially the "Cagsawa Church." Maybe next time I will send to you a picture, so at least in simple pictures you've see the Cagsawa Church and Mayan Volcano.

Hope you like my short story. :) Till next time ... hmmpf ... love lots and more power to you and your whole entire family. Thank you.

Your sponsored child,

Hahahaha! I love this girl! He letters never fail to make me smile. I'm very happy that she mentions the postcards--looks like David's idea was a hit!

Dear Ms. Shannon,

Mabuhay! How are you, ma'am? We hope everything is okay with you.

Again I am Jasmin Jane's mother. My daughter would like to thank you for the letter and cards you sent to her. She was very happy. She often looks at the cards before she sleeps. She likes them very much. She wants to tell you that she loves swimming. She knows how to swim. She likes going to beaches although we never had chance to do that.

I would like to end this letter saying thank you for everything. Jasmi also expressed thanks and belated happy birthday!

Yours always,

Lea writes such lovely letters. I am very happy to hear that Jasmin knows how and loves to swim! Three of my girls now have mentioned a fondness for beaches -- I wonder if there is one close enough to take them there instead of to the pool when I visit? I will have to research that a bit.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hazel's Annual Photo

I'm receiving lots of Hazel updates lately! Today when I logged into my account, I discovered her new annual photo:

Her hair has grown a little bit longer! She actually looks younger to me in this photo than in last year's. What do you think?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Spotlight Children of the Week, 8/13/12

I missed last week's Spotlight blog due to my vacation, so this week I'm doubling up with a focus on metro Manila, which was recently ravaged by floods.

First, I would like to introduce you to nine-year-old Marcelle. She lives with her parents and four siblings, and enjoys playing indoors with her dolls. Before the waters submerged her city, her family's monthly income was only $46. Now, it's possible their situation is even more dire. Won't you come to her rescue and help her family rebuild what they have lost?

This young lady is Daisy, also from Manila. She and her seven siblings live with their parents on $200 per month (again, that is a pre-flood income estimate). Daisy enjoys reading and playing outdoors with her friends. She will be fourteen years old in less than two weeks. Bring a spark of hope back to her life and give her the greatest birthday gift of all--Sponsorship!

Unsure about Sponsorship? Take a test-ride by teaming up with an experienced Sponsor--me! I would be happy to co-Sponsor either of these girls with you ... and if you decided after all that Sponsorship just isn't for you, you can rest assured in the knowledge that I will maintain the Sponsorship myself rather than let our angel fall back into the waiting pool. If, on the other hand, you decide you love Sponsoring SO much that you'd like to continue solo, I will be content to step aside and allow you to build that one-to-one relationship!

Back from Vacation

I was away on vacation for a week, and came back to a whole host of goodies!

Most excitingly, Hazel's refrigerator has arrived! There was enough money left over after purchasing it for the family to also purchase some supplies for the business, and some school snacks for Hazel!

She sent a lovely thank-you letter:

Dear Sponsor,

Hello! How are you? About us, we are doing good. I am very happy and thankful for the special gift you gave to me and my family. The refrigerator will help my mother a lot in her small business. As of now she is cooking food that we are selling in our neighbors. The left over food, we keep it in the refrigerator. We also bought snack items that I can bring when I go to school. I am now in grade five. I am enjoying school.

Thank you so much again for your big support in me.

Your Sponsored Child,
Hazel Ann

Next, I found two new photos of my girls when I logged in to my Children International account. One was expected ... one was not!

Maria's annual photo was the expected one. Her birthday is coming up in September; she will be twelve.

 Joyce's photo was definitely NOT expected! Her last photo was updated in February, so this was definitely a surprise! Joyce's birthday is in just a couple days; she will be fourteen.

Then, I learned of the devastating flooding in Manila and Quezon City--all together, five of my girls live in these two areas.  I logged online for the first time in the week, only to be confronted by images like this one:

Children International issued a statement, saying that their centers were closed due to safety concerns. They also said that they would contact Sponsors whose children are directly impacted by the flooding. I haven't heard anything ... yet. I am praying that no news is good news.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Planning a Visit: Flights

Today, I tackled the daunting task of beginning to research flight options for a visit to my girls. I have specific things I'm looking for: a non-stop flight from the U.S. to Manila, from a city to which SWA flies, on an airline on which I can Non-Rev travel (aka, save myself a whole lot of moolah by using my airline-employee benefits).

My first choice was Delta. I had been told that they have a non-stop flight from Detroit, MI, to Manila. Unfortunately, I was told incorrectly. Delta does not have ANY non-stop flights from the U.S. to Manila. Strike One.

Next, I did a general search for airlines that fly non-stop from anywhere in the Manila. Most were airlines that I had never even heard of. Strike Two.

Philippine Airlines DOES have a couple non-stop connection to U.S. cities. However, I have been warned in the past about the questionable levels of safety on non-U.S. carriers, so more research was in order. Like any airline, PAL has its share of incidents and accidents. However, it doesn't seem out of proportion compared to our U.S. carriers. And they are accredited by the IATA. So things look good on that front.

Even better, PAL has non-stop flights to Manila from San Francisco AND Los Angeles, both of which are cities served by SWA. Score! I think we will opt for SFO, if the flights cooperate. I'm not overly fond LAX.

There is currently one flight per day from SFO to MNL. It leaves SFO at 9:15PM and makes a "technical stop" (whatever that is) in Guam. It arrives in Manila at 5:30AM ... two days later. So if we leave SFO on a Tuesday night, we land in Manila on THURSDAY morning! Yow!

Coming back, there is no stop in Guam. The flight leaves at 10:30PM, and arrives in SFO at 6:30PM on the same day. Haha! That's pretty whacky. =) We'll probably wind up spending the night in SFO, and then flying on Southwest back to Baltimore the next morning.

So there we are! It's still far too early to actually arrange for travel passes ... but now the initial research is done!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cristine Receives a DP!

Of my eight girls, Cristine is unique in that she is Sponsored by a whole group. I joined the group a few months ago, and I have enjoyed this new experience so far! I've written to her twice--a letter of introduction when I first joined the group, and just last month I sent a letter along with my Sponsorship contribution (because it's a group Sponsorship, I only make two contributions a year). There are no replies to my specific letters (yet!), but today we all got to see the response to a package one of her other Sponsors sent!

That's quite a pile of goodies! Cristine has, in previous letters, mentioned that she likes Sponge Bob, so a lot of the gifts are Sandy Bottom-themed!