At a PTA meeting of the North Centro Elementary School one year, we heard of a need the school had for a pump well. Actually, they needed two pump wells. The PTA raised the money for one, and we thought it would be good if we could see about getting the school the second one.
I wrote to our friend, Earl Dougherty, principal of San Fernando Christian Day School in San Fernando, California where I had filled in to teach for one week while on furlough one year. At that time, they were collecting dimes for some project in the States, and they were able to raise a large amount of money. Because of their excitement, I thought they might want to do it again, this time for the children of Enrile in the Philippines. I told Brother Dougherty that the children at the North Centro Elementary School in Enrile needed a pump well and asked him if the children in his school would like to save dimes to help with this project. In Enrile, the children are the ones who have to water the flowers, plants, and grass, or anything else that needs water on the entire school grounds. They do not have a hose to do this. Instead, they have to carry empty buckets to a pump well, fill them with water, and then water the plants. The school grounds were about as large as most city schools in Los Angeles, so you know this took a lot of children a long time to water the grounds. When Brother Dougherty learned about the need, he felt it was a good idea. He knew his children would be delighted to do it. When he told them about it, they were excited to take on this new project. They gave willingly, bringing their own dimes for it, and they were thrilled when they were able to raise two hundred dollars.
In Enrile, on the day after Valentine’s Day, we went to the Enrile North Centro Elementary School. They were having their annual Valentine’s Day program. We decided that this would be the ideal time to present the principal with this gift. What a lovely occasion it was, with the children presenting many native dances and doing other special numbers dressed in very colorful costumes. Following one special number, the children came down and pinned small heart valentines on us, and after one of their dances, they came down to put lovely leis around our necks. Then towards the end, Chuck and I presented the gift of 4,007 pesos (At that time, it was the Philippine equivalent of $200.00) to the principal for the children of her school from the children of the Christian Day School in San Fernando, California. The Enrile school could now have a new pump well dug for their school grounds.
The Enrile children were ecstatic. After all the speeches were over, the children responded by singing “Thank you, thank you, thank you Mister and Mrs., thank you” (to the tune of “Bring Back my Bonnie to Me”). They sang this over and over again until we were quite embarrassed, but they wanted to be sure we knew they really were thankful for what the children of San Fernando had done for them. They really appreciated getting another pump well that would make it easier for them to do their watering. When we told them what a sacrifice the children at that Christian Day School had made to give this to them, they appreciated it all the more.
After the program, we were taken to the principal’s office where we had a lovely merienda or snack of hot strong chocolate called ‘sukalate’ and some rice candy called ‘patupat.’ The patupat was wrapped in banana leaves in a cone shape, steamed and served hot. They then served a delicious fruit cocktail for dessert. The table was beautifully set with their finest glassware and tableware, and everything sparkled. This was another way they showed their appreciation for our having found these school children who had responded to fill their need in such a loving way.