Years back, I wrote about Fr. Boyet’s project here in Bonga Menor, Bustos, Bulacan. Called “Bahay at Yaman ni San Martin de Porres“, it housed about 120 street urchins then. Today, there are 160 of them. Boys who used to sleep on sidewalks, park benches, roaming the streets of Manila and nearby towns late nights or even during the wee hours of the morning. They are not all orphans. Some have parents who can hardly feed them, or come from dysfunctional families that these kids found “home” instead in the streets. Today when we visited, the most recently-admitted ward was an 8 year old named Nikon. While talking to Fr. Boyet, Nikon would invariably follow behind and at every chance, grab Fr. Boyet’s hand. It was a kind of attachment that I found surprising for a kid who has been brought to this children’s village only a day before. When I called Nikon, it seemed so natural for him to likewise grab my hand and lean on me. I dare not imagine the kind of life he had in the streets.
From the streets to this community where these kids are sheltered, clothed, fed, schooled, trained and nurtured. You’d be amazed how much Fr. Boyet and his volunteers have done for these children. The place isn’t exactly an orphanage. Like he said, it isn’t easy to raise funds to keep and maintain the village. With 160 children, about 3 1/2 sacks of rice are consumed DAILY to keep these growing boys fed. Fr. Boyet jokes that even after a meal of spaghetti and burgers sent by generous donors, the boys still hunger for their rice meals. Rice. And more rice when paired with meat.
Fr. Boyet is quick to remind us though that while providing food, shelter and clothing may not be easy, the even harder task is the rehabilitation of these children who have survived off the streets and lived by its rules. Many come to live in this village initially foul-mouthed and selfish. Some may have even led criminal lives as thieves, snatchers, or worse, drug couriers. In Fr. Boyet’s experience, reforming them wasn’t easy but certainly possible. Very few left the village, despite the disciplines imposed on the boys. Looking around, the vibrant colors of the dormitories, halls and retreat stone houses bring cheer to village life here. How they’ve kept the entire community clean is a testament to how disciplined these boys are. Truly admirable.
Because there is a chapel inside the village, weddings and renewal of vows can be arranged here. In fact, one can even arrange other events such as birthdays and anniversaries here. Or simple pot-luck reunions. Why not? A mass celebration and a thanksgiving meal for guests and the boys who’d even regale you with their rondalla music. Celebrations are made more meaningful when shared. As Fr. Boyet says, no food is ever wasted here. So potluck as much as you can? Frankly, not much is required except for the RICE. 😀
My advice though is to keep the meals simple. Best to use those resources to buy rice for the boys, raise funds to maintain the place, or even help pay for the payroll of the educators in the Instituto de San Martin. Without volunteer teachers, a monthly salary of P12,000 minimum for each teacher is difficult to sustain. And they need a faculty of teachers and trainers for vocational skills and value formation. Likewise for their music ministry. Not easy, but by the grace of God, this village survives. It can do much more for these children. As things stand, it is only limited by others’ generosity NOT just with money but time.
I’ve seen many projects with lofty ideals work and fail. Fr. Boyet and his volunteers are never short of ideas and certainly full of commitment. They can do with a lot of help from us. Even by simply sharing this piece to introduce this noble project to as many generous souls. Maybe find groups, fraternities, companies to foot one teacher’s payroll. So, how about it? Below are details on Father Boyet and this project.
You may also want to call or send an SMS to Fr. Boyet or to his assistant Myrna (0922 8341940) should you wish to visit. And there’s Sister Adora too, who can “introduce” you to St. Martin de Porres and even sing her composition for you.
An earlier blog was written on the same project. Just click here.
More photos below.