Students and teachers of the Tzu Chi University of Science and Technology brought aid and smiles to the Aeta children of Bamban, Tarlac on August 28 as part of their yearly outreach program. Beyond the monthly donation of rice, the students brought snacks, school supplies, and hygiene kits to the 50 children.
A classroom of indigenous Aeta children is the focus of this year’s outreach program by the Tzu Chi University of Science of Technology (TCUST).
Tzu Chi volunteers from Angeles City and Manila brought sixteen students from Tzu Chi University of Science of Technology (TCUST) accompanied by their three teachers to the town of Bamban, Tarlac on August 28 to bring aid and smiles to 50 Aeta children, who are beneficiaries of a tutorial program initiated by the Alay Ko Foundation, a local non-government organization. As the foundation also provides meals for the children, Tzu Chi foundation donates 500 kilos of rice monthly to this endeavor.
Adolph Andes, a teacher for the foundation, describes the ordeal the children go through every day. From their village in the mountains, they must cross rivers and go over rolling hills just to get to school. The entire journey takes them up to two hours, even longer in rainy days where they have to keep their uniforms dry in plastic bags.
This, Andes explained, inspired the foundation to help them. But it hasn’t been easy, admitting that they struggle with the upkeep of maintaining their program.
“We are so very thankful to Tzu Chi’s support, which is why we teach kids to give importance to the blessings they receive. For example, they shouldn’t waste the rice they eat and instead, they should be grateful for it,” he explained.
Tzu Chi volunteers Vincent and Pansy Ho of Angeles City, Pampanga have been maintaining the rice donation since 2016. Hearing about the difficulties the children and their benefactor face, they pooled the blessings from family, friends, and acquaintances to sustain this act of kindness.
“Master Cheng Yen taught us that everyone deserves a chance to do good deeds. So I called up some of my friends to see if they can help, telling them about the lives the children lead,” said Pansy.
Coincidentally, some of the TCUST students hail from aborigine tribes of Taiwan. Lee Lo Han, who teaches nursing at TCUST, believes that their meeting with the Aeta children will allow them to be more appreciative of their heritage.
“Although [the TCUST] students have experienced their own hardships in life, being with the [Aeta] children today has brought smiles to them. It also let the children know that they’re not alone, because we’re all one family,” said Lee.
Aside from rice, the students from Taiwan also brought snacks, school supplies, and hygiene kits. Such materials are in short supply from where the Aeta children live, especially hygiene. In a playful manner, the TCUST students took the opportunity to teach the children how to wash their hands and brush their teeth.