Wow, what a day we had yesterday at the Kanlungan mini Olympics held down at the farm south of Manila. When I say “Olympics” think ( for those of a certain age) more “It’s a knockout” but without Stuart Hall and Eddie Wareing. If that cultural reference passed you by, just read on!
The competition was fierce.. Lots of shouting and cheering from each of the teams and some very competitive behaviour from the leaders (Jayne from the girls home at Laguna was especially keen to file protests to the judges about some infringement of the rules by the Boys Home or Tunasan teams!)
The best games were the caterpillar ride which was like a 5 person cross country ski on concrete ( I am still feeling the pain of all my team falling on top of me several times ) and the water collecting game which finished up as the most enormous water fight (which the SLT team loved as it was so hot out there).
The team will all have their personal highlights but I think we were all agreed that the cheerleader competition was brilliant! Some of the teams had been rehearsing for a while. I think Benitez knew that the little ones wouldn’t win any of the games so they should focus on the cheerleading. Their dance routine to Tony Basil’s one hit wonder “Hey Mickey” was fantastic and their pleated skirts and ties made out of newspapers were so inventive.
SLT were asked to form the judging panel, and were given 5 criteria in which to judge. The staff were certainly taking it all very seriously. We were all a lot more generous than Craig on Strictly and gave Benitez Street 100 out 100 narrowly ahead of the Girls Home and the Boys Home.
The effort put into everything by the staff just shows how much they care about the kids. I’m so glad SLT funded the whole thing..the kids had been looking forward to it for weeks and Benitez Street were up at 4am this morning with excitement! For them it really is like Christmas Day. What a privilege to be able to share it with them.
A Personal Reflection: A Level Playing Field.
Yesterday Al Wernham and Alyanna Ayiang were on a level playing field, on the same Street Educators Team at the mini Olympics down at the Farm. Today, their worlds felt much further apart.
Al is on his first Streetlight trip as a member of St Mary’s Princes Risborough. When he’s
back in England he’s a quantity surveyor, commercially managing large construction projects. Home is in Princes Risborough itself where the average house price is £500,000 ( and an average mortgage to suit).
Alyanna (I don’t think I can also call her Al for short !) is 18 years old. Her home has been under a bridge for as long as she can remember. Now there are bridges and bridges.
I can think of some lovely ones in Wharfedale in my home county of Yorkshire, and I can hear the sound of water as it swirls on down between the rocks. But Alyanna’s bridge isn’t like that. We couldn’t hear any sound of running water…more a semi stagnant pool of polluted gunge which smelt truly awful. A river filled with all sorts of garbage, but where a few roosters still managed to find a few scraps to eat.
Al and Alyanna were on a level playing field yesterday but not today. But there is real hope for Alyanna thanks to Kanlungan’s help and her own determination. Thanks to the Kanlungan street educators like Suzette (also on Al’s team yesterday) discovering this bridge community, Alyanna has had support to get her college degree in IT. She now needs to get some on the job training before, hopefully, getting a job. She would love to do encoding work for one of the many outsourcing companies now operating out of Manila. Or maybe works for Samsung.
Let’s pray for Alyanna’s success, rejoice in the dedication of workers like Suzette (herself once a Kanlungan girl) and hope that one day the playing field will be as even as it was at the mini Olympics.
PS : Al would like to point out that the Street Educators were an amazing team and finished second overall at the Olympics ( beaten only by the home team from the Boys Home).