By Karen Bermejo
The first five years of a child is crucial in his or her development. It is during these years that a child experience dramatic growth, both in mind and body.
During these years, a child’s motor ability advances, he or she starts to think more complex and it is when the language skill starts to blossom.
Aside from the physical and physiological, a child experiences social and emotional development too, thus they begin to understand his or her feelings and those of others.
However, due to poverty, most children in the country are not fortunate to experience the best out of this milestone in their lives.
Some children can’t even have their complete meal in a day, thus resulting to poor health and later, poor performance in school.
This became an inspiration for 28-year old traveler, Chelsey Hall to put up the Babies of Boracay or BoB.
Chelsey’s project started in an old shack that served as a shelter for the children during a regular feeding program in Tambisaan, situated in Manoc-Manoc village in Boracay Island.
Through the generosity of some people, a facility was later constructed to house BoB and its program.
The BoB serves as a free day care for children aged zero to five and as community center for the volunteer parents.
BoB’s primary goals are to provide basic care, educational playtime and at least one meal per day during weekdays for the children, shared Chelsey.
Also helping Chelsey in running BoB is teacher Olivia Joy Bauman.
Olivia or Olive leads in providing fun and educational activities for the children of BoB.
Each morning, from Monday to Friday, the volunteer mommies of BoB collect the children from their homes.
While their parents go to work, children are taken cared by the volunteer mommies at the center.
Unlike a regular school environment, the children are educated through interactive songs and games which encourage participation.
Olive said that lessons are designed to educate the children to have joy in learning and to equip them with the basics when they start going to a regular school.
When at the center, the children do not just learn basic education.
They also practice the essential life skills like proper hygiene and dental care.
Last October 3, BoB already opened its second term with at least 60 children beneficiaries from only 37 since it opened its first term in April.
One of them is five-year old Rico Maximo.
Aside from the new things he learned through BOB, Rico said he also gained new friends at the center.
Apart from Rico, his two younger siblings, four-year-old Rogelyn and two-year-old Riana are enrolled at BoB.
“Through BoB, Rico became friendlier. He became more enthusiastic to learn new things,” according to his mom, Genelyn.
Genelyn better known as Beng-Beng at the center is actually one of the volunteer mothers.
The 27-year old mother said she found a different fulfillment while working at BoB.
Beng-Beng said she is grateful for she can now focus on the needs of her children through BoB.
Before, with her work as a massage therapist, Beng-Beng sometimes lacks the time to focus on her children.
“I am happy to see my children enjoy their time while learning,” she said.
Beng-Beng along with the six other regular volunteer mothers at BOB also cooks healthy and nutritious lunch for the children regularly.
The volunteer moms also take the lead in food preparation.
Some of the vegetables served for the kids are from the mini-garden outside the center they also maintained and of Arvin Bernabe, the center’s caretaker.
From a gasoline boy, Arvin decided to spend full -time at BOB as caretaker despite the meager income in gratitude to the help of BOB to his three children enrolled at the center.
In fact, Arvin was the one who mainly constructed the BoB center.
As one of the busiest tourist destination in the country, Boracay has a great potential to shape a good future for its children.
“The BoB is just the start. In the near future we plan to expand and develop other pre-schools and community centers wherever needed in the villages on the island of Boracay, and hopefully in other areas in the Philippines,” said Chelsey.
Through BoB, you too can help shape a better formative years for the kids of Boracay and of the Philippines.
You can either volunteer at BOB or donate for the programs of the foundation.
For more information, visit their site at babiesofboracay.com or their Facebook page.
Or you can personally visit their center in Tambisaan.
The trip from White Beach to the BOB center takes about 10-15 minutes via tricycle.* (SWAS)