20th February 2009
Way back in April 2007, I decided to
She has so far spent two years at the private
St. Agustin school where she is taught
the usual useful academic subjects as well as Christian Living -
whatever the hell that is.
Laarni's parents decided to
invite me around for lunch as a way of saying thank you.
The live in a simple cinder block house with dirt floors and
a corrugated iron roof. The house is a thirty minute walk
down a dusty road behind
Pulao Elementary School.
Arleen Elecierto - Laarni's mother - prepared a lovely meal
of rice, a guava/fish soup and chicken adobo (which could not
have been cheap). I talked to Felda - Laarni's father -
about his life as a rice farmer. He works the land for the
owner of the farm and receives 10% of the crop. The land
is not irrigated and he can only get two crops for the year.
This basically makes him a sustenance farmer.
He also told me the story of when the flash flood came as a
result of Typhoon Frank. At about 10pm the water was
starting to form on the floor. By 10:15 it was up to 6
foot. The evacuated their three daughters to higher ground
and did the best the could to save their possessions.
We talked about Laarni and how she
was doing in school. She is doing okay and is about in the
middle of the class. Laarni can do much better than that
(she was third in her graduating class) but she is a fourteen
year old girl. I know I wasn't the best student when I was
fourteen. She has promised to do better in the coming
Laarni was incredibly shy to me during my stay. Much
more than she was in previous times. This was almost
certainly as a result of my sponsoring her.
Her parents were oh-so-polite to me. They constantly
called me "sir" and were very thankful for what I was doing.
They also produced all the receipts they had collected for the
school fees that I had paid for. They also told me how
they had tried to turn the extra money I sent them into more
money. They could not have been more upfront and honest.
The big elephant in the room was Arleen's breast cancer.
She went through chemotherapy about two years ago. She had
a recent checkup and if there were no cancer present then she
was home free. There was cancer present and she is now
basically waiting to die.
I enjoyed my lunch with the Eleciertos. It was great to
touch base with an honest-to-goodness family that struggles with
day-to-day life. It reminded me of why I am doing what I
If you like the story of Laarni and wish to sponsor a similar
child, then please get in
contact with me.