I woke up to this early this morning in my Facebook news feed. It was originally shared by one of my high school friends, and having found it a powerful and moving testament to the hunger for knowledge in impoverished kids in this country, I shared it with my other friends and got so many wonderful responses from them.
It all started with this picture posted Monday on the YouScoop Facebook page. The picture, taken and submitted by Ralph Sedrick Lapuz, was taken inside the Booksale branch in Pedro Gil Street, Manila. This is the YouScoop caption posted with it:Bibili lamang si YouScooper Sedricke Lapuz ng aklat nang makita niyang nagbabasa sa loob ng isang Booksale sa Pedro Gil, Maynila ang isang batang pulubi. Kitang-kita sa mukha ng bata ang saya habang nagbabasa nang malakas at tumitingin sa mga larawan. Nilapitan ni Sedricke ang bata at tinanong kung marunong ba siyang magbasa. “Kaunti lamang po,” sagot ng bata.
Ikinatuwa ni Sedricke na may mga batang salat man sa yaman, nais pa ring matuto. Matapos nilang mag-usap, naisip niyang bilhin ang alinmang librong magustuhan ng bata. Hiling niya, nawa’y matulungan ang bata.
UPDATE: Kuha ito mula sa Booksale, Pedro Gil. Para sa mga gustong tumulong sa kanya, i-PM po sa amin ang inyong pangalan at contact details upang mabalitaan namin kayo. Maraming salamat, YouScoopers!
This post generated a lot of interest in the young boy, whom we later found out is named MJ, with offers to send him more books and help for education pouring in even days after the initial posting. I felt compelled to chime in the thread, so strong was the message that this single picture left me: That in this country where the poor live and die every day with little hope to rise above their poverty, we can only count on education to make this dream possible.
I certainly laud the attention this young boy is receiving, but then again, I can’t help but feel that perhaps, more can be done for kids like him. There are more MJs out there, many more like him who hunger for knowledge. But go to any bookstore in town and you will see that books are expensive and often out of their reach. Grinding poverty has deprived them of the opportunity to read, much more own, even just a single book.
And this is where my thinking has led me- to the idea of a suspended book, much like the concept of suspended coffees* that started in Naples and has slowly moved across the globe.
Someone can come in, say, to a Booksale branch, buy a book and leave it there, to be given to a child who can’t afford to buy his own book. An inspiring note slipped inside the book will make it more personal. The branch can monitor pick-ups by having the kids sign in for a book if they can write or dictate their name if they can’t. Maybe they can even take a picture of the child with the book. A child can come it at least once a week for a free book, if he really wants to. I don’t know how this will work in practical terms but it sounds simple enough, provided Booksale agrees to it. Also, it would be better to identify which branches of Booksale has a larger walk-in market for children like MJ so anonymous book donors will be sure their contributions reach their target recipients. At the same time, Booksale can help guide donors to get books that children really like and read.
Lest we forget, we must mention our gratitude to Booksale for their kindness. Not many businesses will allow barefoot, ill-dressed children in their premises for fear of turning off their paying customers. This particular branch has more conscience than most and we commend them for it.
As I went further through the thread, I found another link to a picture (see below) taken by a Facebook user named Joseph T. Gonzales. This one was taken in the sidewalks of a National Bookstore branch in Recto Ave., Manila. I’m glad Booksale isn’t the only one with a heart. There is hope for us, after all. 🙂
Kindness, I believe, is part of the Filipino soul. Giving a book to a child is a kindness that will reap its own reward someday. With the gift of a book, we open our hearts and give new hope to our nation’s future. Every little bit helps. 🙂
*Suspended coffee- a cup of coffee paid for in advance as an anonymous act of charity (source: Wikipedia)