I just returned from a trip to the Philippines, where a ministry called Children of Hope has established dozens of preschools for urban Manila children.
I was invited to teach at their annual teacher’s retreat, and my daughter Aimee, an education major, went with me and taught as well. (I was so proud of her!)
Churches affiliated with Children of Hope help start and grow these preschools, with the goal to “graduate” the schools to independence after two years of training and support. In the past two years, 1200 children have been served by this education ministry, in 24 preschools. Another 17 preschools are opening this year!
A church preschool affiliated with Children of Hope typically serves around 30 children, although one school has around 90. The expected teacher-child ratio is about 15 to one.
Teachers are trained by my friend Patty, an American who taught at Bellevue Christian Preschool (Washington State), in other preschools and in children’s ministries for about 20 years. Patty and her husband Bryant are living and working tirelessly in Manila full time to better the lives of children and the teachers who serve them!
We had an opportunity before the retreat to visit a one-room church off a busy street. It doubles as a preschool when church is not in session.
We treasured this time of worship with about 20 people. (Many of the other members were gone for the summer, back to the provinces where they grew up.)
The service included singing and a message in a mixture of Tagalog and English. They call it Taglish–words from both languages are mixed in sentences. Some of the members, including children, danced to worship songs using sign language, which was quite beautiful. All there made us feel very welcome and it was a lovely place for us to spend Easter Sunday. It was bit of a miracle that we were able to get up for it, considering we’d flown into Manila late the night before! Jet lag did hit us later in the day!
In my next post, I’ll share a bit more about what we taught at the retreat, and how it felt to attempt to teach cross-culturally.
The teachers were an eager, smiling group!