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Special art by an extraordinary teen featured in NVC gift cards

Special art by an extraordinary teen featured in NVC gift cards

 Meet Enzo, a 15-year-old painter whose bold, colorful work has appeared in various exhibits in Manila. His parents, Dean and Chu Calleja, have generously allowed NVC to reproduce four of his paintings in gift cards, sales of which will fund Mingo Meals for malnourished children all over the Philippines.

Enzo is a teen living with autism. Diagnosed at age 2, he has been getting all the different interventions he needs to cope with the world around him, which he can find overwhelming. Enzo swims, works out, and plays the piano, but Mom Chu feels that Enzo really expresses his emotions through is artwork.

“When Enzo was younger, we would make him try all sorts of activities. At first I wasn’t sure if he could paint,” Chu narrates. But a friend of hers, an art gallery manager, encouraged them to try it. “And yes, to our surprise, Enzo really enjoyed it. Since then, we have been very supportive of his talent.”

Four of Enzo’s highly expressive, colorful paintings have been translated into gift cards that will benefit malnourished children in the Philippines. A box of 12 cards featuring all 4 paintings is Php 250.

Buy the gift cards online

Helping other children and promoting nutrition

“I feel this project would make more of an impact rather than just giving grocery items to kids on the streets,” says Chu. “Nutrition affects our whole body’s development. Enzo himself is on a gluten-free, casein-free, and sugar-free diet [to help him deal wit the symptoms of autism]. But of course, most other children need to be nourished in order to grow and develop.”

An initial set of 300 gift card sets all sold within one month, and enrolled these 8 children in NVC’s 6-month daily Mingo Meals feeding program (top): Princes 4, Cristina 3, Yesha Mae 3, Francis 3, and (bottom): Eugene 5, Jethro 4. James Coby 2, Neil John, 3. They have been identified as malnourished an in need of nutritional supplementation. They reside in Brgy. Punta Taytay, Negros Occidental.

Reprints for another batch of kids

NVC reprinted 300 more sets in January 2019, sales of which will enroll an additional eight children, all from the same community. Left to right: Daveriel Villaluna, Lance Lance Reyman Olano, Precious Purificacion, Reylene Heliana Olano, Bill Brian Dechilla, Brian Jordan Dechilla, Reygan Dechilla, and Shahira Dechilla 

Raising autism awareness

“For all autism parents, let’s try to expose our kids to a variety of activities and stick to the ones they like and enjoy,” Chu continues. She hopes that putting Enzo’s art in NVC’s gift cards will raise awareness about autism and prevent people from being judgmental about it. “My son’s condition made me work harder and not settle for status quo. My loyalty is and always will be to my son. Enzo’s condition freed us from what society dictates, as we have to follow the road less travelled.”

“We parents must be patient, open and willing to try what works for our kids. Each child with autism is different. If you meet one child with autism, that’s just one child. They are showered with their own different talents as well.”

“But truly, the joy and God’s love we feel is immeasurable—every time we see Enzo’s finished artwork, when we’re asked to exhibit, or share Enzo’s artwork with others. We hope to be an inspiration that if we can do it, so can other autism families.”

Enzo with his loving family: baby sister Katrina, Mommy Chu, and Daddy Dean. “Enzo has taught us about unconditional love, patience, understanding, openness and celebrating our milestones and dealing with challenges and everything in between,” says Chu.
Enzo painting with his art teacher, Alvin Gonzalez. Sir G started teaching Enzo to paint when he was 9 years old and has been a wellspring of love and patience in working with Enzo.

Sharing art and inspiring others

Enzo’s painting of a bird in the rain was shown at and appeared in the poster of “Heart to Heart,” an art exhibit at Pinto Art Museum.
Enzo with his Teacher Kate and two of his paintings (right) at the the Uniquely Different Exhibit in Novotel Araneta Center.
At the Communicare Therapy Center’s shop and share bazaar, which showcased the talent of students

Buy Enzo Calleja’s gift cards online and support malnourished children in the Philippines