The thing about Sundays is I can write and read and listen to as much inspiration as my ears can accommodate. This Sunday is no different. I reviewed Nectar, Upile Chisala’s book, I read a chapter of the book, Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie, I performed some of my poetry pieces and I also got to watch the full show of Miss World 2017. I know that most of you are wondering why I would waste my time watching the show. Throughout the show, I was inspired especially with the “Beauty with a purpose” category where I got to learn about a number of ways that people are creating a difference in the world. But who inspired me to write this post is the award winner of the Miss World Humanitarian Award. I paused the show and allowed my eyes to water; I did not stop the little Salma in me from weeping, before I continued watching. And this post is completely dedicated to this angel, this change-maker, Father Rocky and to my dear friend, Vinesenciah Gisore who is also doing a noble work under the same category, working with street children.
The Philippines is a unitary sovereign state and island in Southeast Asia filled with beautiful beaches, diving sites and chocolate hills. But the Philippines is also home to so many stranded street children who are influenced to become drug addicts, trafficked for sex, subjected to rape and exploitation and some end up being gang leaders.
Father Rocky who is a priest was very much hurt by the situation and he took the initiative to make things happen. He founded the Tuloy sa Don Bosco school in 1997 which has by now taken more than 1,000 street kids, rehabilitated them and changed the tables of their once proclaimed destiny. The destiny of living lives of crimes and street gangs.
But God, He sent Father Rocky as a source of hope and transformation to the kids on the streets of Manilla who lived a meaningless life. Currently, the school accommodates more than 1,000 students. The school does not only provide them with education and basic human needs but it has also opened outlets of artistic expression through dance performances and music and culinary art. The children are also offered career and vocational training.
The school has been a channel of change, providing the once street kids with a bright future and preventing the penetration of crimes. Father Rocky ensures that all the students are catered for; even those with low IQs which he attributes not to the children’s inability to grasp but the circumstances and influencing factors like the abandonment by the parents, lack of resources and malnutrition.
The children are also exposed to opportunities worldwide. The four season hotel in Dubai has taken in some of the graduating students and Capital one has established a call center training room inside the school for the students and has provided openings for the most performing students to be employed at Capital One. Fortunately, more paths are opening up for the angels of Tuloy.
Isn’t this inspiring? Isn’t Father Rocky creating footprints that will forever leave marks on people’s hearts? And when he was receiving the award; the children, all of them were filled with joy and pride as they saw this angel, a father-figure being appreciated for the extraordinary work that he had done. And he had taught the children to always sing Josh Groban’s song, “You raise me up”; to remind them of the importance of support in people’s lives and to uplift their souls whenever they were down and sad. It was breathtaking to see so much change being made by one person, it demonstrated the power of an ordinary man to create extraordinary change.
The song, “You raised me up” reminds me of the former Young African Leadership Initiative director, Mr. Mark McCord who kept telling us that we should be appreciative of the people that support us and give us their shoulders when we need that the most.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up to more than I can be.
Today, I want us to challenge ourselves. Apart from working and fulfilling our family responsibilities, does change making ever cross our minds? Do we sit and think about the problems that are affecting people in our communities and say that God will fix that or it’s the work of the government? Have we ever gone out and helped someone? Did we attain satisfaction at the end? I believe that there is no fulfillment better than that of serving humanity; it heals us before it heals whoever it is intended to heal.
Today, I want us to ask ourselves what legacy we want to create. What do we want to be remembered for? Why are we here? What is our purpose on planet earth? Everyone has the ability to make a difference, everyone can touch a life. We do not have to aim so high, we can start with those neighbors that we know who struggle to have their daily bread; we can keep packets of sweets to share with the under blessed children around us.
We can even opt to join Motivational Talks for Youth Organization, a community based organization that is currently doing commendable work in the communities. We can choose to either sit or pretend to be blind to the cries of the world or stand up, be bold enough and join the other young leaders in changing the world. The ball is in our court. Can we do this much? Can we be, father Rocky?