“Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation.” Nelson Mandela
Believers are what each child needs to aid them to discover their talents and reach their full potential.
While it takes patience, understanding and hard work to nurture, teach and help children discover their goals and guide them towards their dreams, it also takes love, inspiration, perseverance, and dedication to champion these innocent and untainted individuals to bloom and flourish.
Child development teachers are among the first batch of believers. Standing in as second parents, they go out of their way to teach, care, and inspire children to discover their dreams. More than just being able to share their knowledge of the basic alphabet, numbers, stories, and play, they supplement the integration of values and outlook into a child’s life.
For Marie Ann Daugdaug, a child development teacher in Barangay Catang, Argao for 30 years, hearing the successful stories from her previous daycare students drives her to keep on going. For her, nothing beats the feeling of fulfillment seeing her past students graduating and still remembering the stories that she shared back in their daycare days.
“Naa jud katong nag speech dire nga maulaw jud to siya, muhilak jud to siya og maayo og paeskwelahon siya nya karon, Cum Laude sa Normal. Nagspeech siya dire kay naa man jud mi honoring program katong wala pay Covid. Ang mga graduates sa amo, honoran dire sa among barangay. Mura jud og nituhop sa akong dughan (iyang gi-ingon) nga “Kung dili pa tungod ni kuan nga maoy nagkuan nako pag daycare nako…” Nindot kaayo paminawn gani. Ingon ko, “Ay, bahala na pila ray sweldo sa barangay basta lang kay nindot jud kaayo paminawn nga naay (maka-appreciate) nimo ba nga ing-ana,” she shared.
In 2017 Barangay Catang was one of the partner LGU’s that was granted the construction of a child development center through the RAFI Dolores Aboitiz Children’s Fund (RAFI DACF). She shared how the construction of the building has really helped in managing and securing the children’s safety. The center provides a safe space for children to enjoy recreational and physical activities.
While the past 30 years of her service have been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, the most recent dilemmas of the pandemic and the impact of Typhoon Odette on their child development center has been one of the major challenges that Marie Ann faced. After Typhoon Odette ravaged Cebu in 2021, it left the development center in Catang damaged.
The sight of the child development center after Typhoon Odette was shocking to Marie Ann: the roof was swept away, modules completely drenched, and water dripping from the ceiling. The center also served as safe haven to evacuees. With this heartbreaking sight, Marie Ann was able to work on getting the whole building covered with a huge tarpaulin tied down by a plastic rope to save what was left of the interior.
When asked how she was able to get through all the struggles, she says she is reminded of the smiles of her previous students knowing that she somehow played a part in molding them into who they are today. She will never forget how one of her previous students who dreamt of becoming a teacher even when he lived in a community prone to illegal drugs at such an early age. A great shift happened after a couple weeks of storytelling —when asked what he wanted to be when he’d grow up: from “selling illegal drugs” to “I want to become a teacher.”
Firmly believing that early childhood education is very important to build school-ready children, Marie Ann always encourages parents to enroll their children.
“Kay sauna wala mi playground. Wala jud mi outside na activities. Dili jud ko kay didto, og
mugawas mo pakilid, mangambak didto sa canal. Diha sa amoa nga karon nga covered court di
pa baya na intawn covered court sauna nya gitagaan mi ni Mayor tsubibo namo dinha nga nakuan na karon na perte pung haboga unsaon pag sakay sa mga bata plus kato pang duyan. Mao to dili ko magaduwa sa gawas kay kuyawan ko bisan asa dalagan.”
Nya karon lahi ra jud kaayo nga murag ma feel na pud jud kaayo sa mga bata na tinuod na jud
jong estudyante kay makita gyud nila na eskwelahan na gyud na tinuod,” she explains.
Naa may panday na niingon na og dili kuno idali og pabutang balik ang sin, makuha ang
kisame. So dako na hinoon kaayo ang problema. So mao to, ang amoang konsehal abtik man
pud kaayo. Gihangyo nako (…) Mga duha ka bulan after ato, nataod niya (…) Ang amoa nalang
jung problema is ang amoang feeding center kay ang amoang playground mao juy problema kay
hurot jud. Akoa nalang jung gipalabay. Pero wala nako gipasilaban kay basig naay mutan aw.
Naa ra namo didto gipangbutang ang tanan kay na-damage man jud. As in nahapla man jud.
Grabe-grabe jud ang damage,” she expounds.
Nya karon magkita mi mam. Muana siya nga, “Nag very good jud ko sa school mam kay
magmaestro baya ko. Mao baya to atong sabot mam.” So mao to makuan ko ba nga nindota nga
murag gi-inspire pud ka sa bata (bisag pwerteng) malditoha,” Marie Ann reminisces.
Barangay Catang is situated in the mountainous area of Argao, Cebu. Miles away from the municipality center, this child development center is one of the three child development centers available, and the only one with a functioning and safe playground for children.
In support of the children of Barangay Catang and its neighboring barangays, RAFI DACF will start their repairs and renovations project of the child development center in September. Project completion and turnover will happen by the end of November.
Aside from the modular learning of basic writing, alphabet and numbers, children are also engaged in storytelling where they learn and integrate values. As children journey through the fundamentals, the power of play also comes into the picture. According to the Impact study on the RAFI-DACF Child Development Center Infrastructure Development Program to early childhood learners and the community in Cebu, Philippines, “play activates nerve cell connections in the brain, allowing a kid to acquire gross motor skills such as walking, running, jumping, coordination, and fine motor skills such as writing, handling small tools, and delicate handwork.”
Let us continue to champion our children and become their believers as they grow and flourish.
The Dolores Aboitiz Children’s Fund of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI-DACF) aims to
enable communities to champion for children to reach their own potentials. Its Grants Program
supports initiatives promoting the welfare and development of children through Early Education
and Health and Nutrition.
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