Rats had eaten most of the crops of Sitio Banualay in Davao del Norte. So our team has been visiting the place regularly to deliver food. One of the residents of this village is 13-year-old Jake. A few years after his father had succumbed to tuberculosis, his mother abandoned Jake and his three younger siblings. None of their relatives could take in all four children so the siblings have been living apart. The younger children live with different relatives in other towns while Jake hops from home to home around Banualay.
Sometimes Jake stays with an uncle. Other times, various families in the village take him in temporarily in exchange for his doing chores for them. Teachers do not live permanently in Sitio Banualay. They come when needed and stay in living quarters near the school. When the teachers are in the village, they let Jake stay with them.
Jake grows his own root crops and vegetables to survive. Unfortunately, his crops were also infested by rats. So he was extremely grateful to receive a food bag during a recent NVC visit. When he accepted his bag of food, one of Jakes dreams came true tenfold. He simply wished to have a kilo of rice and the food bag contained ten.
But Jake has other dreams. He wants to reunite with his siblings. He hopes to find his mother. He wishes to start a business like selling rice to other villagers so he can save up and go to college. He dreams of becoming a teacher someday. Since we were able to make one of Jake’s dreams come true, we thought we’d try to make his other dreams happen, too. So we decided to find a benefactor for Jake. Jav immediately came to mind.
Jav is a young successful entrepreneur. His stylish eye recognized the potential of the humble bayong (traditional market basket). Jav’s chic Bayongciaga totes have been spotted all over Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. They’re even making waves in one of the world’s fashion capitals: Paris, France.
Bayaongciaga is one of NVC Foundation’s partner producers. We got in touch with Jav to ask if he would have some use for the baskets made in Sitio Banualay. We also hoped he could give Jake some chores so Jake could earn a bit more money.
We hoped Jav would say yes but he said no. He was not interested in giving Jake chores to help him earn a little bit of cash. Instead, Jav insisted we find a relative of Jake’s who could house all the siblings under one roof. He promised to take care of their food requirements. Jav also plans to send Jake and his siblings to school–all the way through college. To top it all, Jav will market the village’s baskets and suggest new designs.
And so this tale of two J’s has a very happy ending! And there will surely be many more happy stories down the road for Jake and Jav.
Jake’s situation improved greatly after Jav came into his life. Jav has been making sure that Jake receives everything that he needs. Jake no longer has to worry about money for food or education expenses. The team working on the case determined that it was better for the siblings to continue to live apart for the time being. However, Jav organized a reunion picnic for them in July.
Jake recently turned 14. And thanks to Jav, this young man experienced a lot of firsts! He enjoyed his first-ever professional haircut, birthday cake and birthday party!
Happy birthday, Jake! And thank you once again, Jav!