(a Cebuano term which means ‘to stand’)

My name is Reneboy Asong Dela Torre. I am 30 years old. I am now an Enlisted Personnel of the Philippine Army, 2ID Infantry Division, Camp Mateo Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal.

I arrived in Calabrian Children’s Foundation in May 2005. I stayed there for seven and a half years.

To say that my life before entering CCF was difficult is an understatement. We were homeless and without food to eat most of the time. Being in that situation, going to school stopped to become a priority. At some point, I started selling cigarettes in Cogon Market in Cagayan de Oro with my mother. We also resorted to asking food from random people out of desperation. I was an innocent kid and to go through such difficulties at an early age, I couldn’t help but ask God the big question, “Why?!”. I would find myself crying constantly because of what my life has turned out to be at that time.

All those experiences had finally taken their toll on me when I acquired a serious illness and was on the brink of death. It was at this point in time that CCF literally saved my life. Fr. Luciano Gervasoni, then CCF director, came to my aid. I was hospitalized and gradually was able to recover. The kindness extended to me by CCF is the only reason that I am still alive.

For me, living inside CCF felt like winning the lottery. I was just one of the luckiest that I found CCF, or maybe it is the other way around: CCF found me. They helped me in all aspects of my life. Everything was free – shelter, food, education, and above all, their commitment to teach us about God and faith.

The rules that were upheld in CCF were not a problem for us, because they were important so that we, the CCF children, will be molded to become better persons.

Everything that I have and am now is all because of the support I have received from CCF. I will never forget the things I learned from the religious brothers, staffs, and house parents and the pieces of advice I received from Sister Yoly, Father Matulin, Bro Von, Kuya Samuel, and Ate Joan Del. Ginapataas nila ang among moral gikan sa wala nay paglaom tungod sa kawad-on o kalisod sa kinabuhi. (They have boosted our morale from being hopeless because of poverty and difficulty in life.)

CCF had become an instrument of God to wake us up to dream for a better life and in turn, be able to give back and help others who are in need as well.

Truth be told, the only reason that I am able to survive in the profession I chose and was able to achieve my dreams is because of all the good things I learned while living in CCF.

Gitudluan mi nga maging mamaayong mga anak sa Dios, para time will come wala na kami sa CCF, kaya na namong mobarog sa amung kaugalingong tiil. (We were taught to become good children of God, so that time will come, when we leave CCF, we will be able to stand on our own.)

Message to CCF resident children:

Be a dreamer. Be different. Be positive. Be ambitious. Be independent. Believe in yourself and above all, believe in Him and love Him.

(a Cebuano term which means to be lively, inspired, and motivated)

I am Shela Dela Torre. I am 25 years old. I graduated Bachelor of Elementary Education major in General Education.

I arrived in Calabrian Children’s Foundation in the year 2005. I stayed there for 8 years.

Life before was difficult. Our family moved from place to place and since it was hard to find food to eat, we had to scavenge empty plastic bottles or anything that we could sell to survive in a day. Ultimately, when my mother can no longer provide for our needs, she decided to let my other siblings live with our relatives in the different parts of the country. That was the start where our family got separated.

We got no choice. My mother worked as a housemaid for a Muslim family and I was with her helping her so as my other siblings. We had to stay strong and work more because we had no relatives to seek help from and we knew no one from the city.

However, I believe that

In our darkest moments, God sends the most wonderful people. When our family was on the brink of giving up, God sent to us Calabrian Children’s Foundation.

The love, care, and nurturance the foundation showed made me comfortable to live there. I have learned so many things while inside the foundation. I learned how to pray, to do house chores, to make friends, to diligently study, and also, to take God’s word into actions.

The foundation helped me a lot to become who I am now. It had impacted my whole being to reach for my dreams. I remember those times when we had to perform dances, sing songs, and do role plays during feasts and celebrations. The foundation helped us to build our self-esteem and confidence to show our hidden talents. That helped me a lot because I used to be shy and uncomfortable in front of many people. The foundation made me do more of what I got.

The experiences inside the foundation continuously inspire me to be better so I could also help other children like me. It inspired me to volunteer in the Philippine Red Cross during college and now that I finally graduated, I can say that I am ready to help and serve other children who are in need.

My message to CCF Kids:

To the children in the foundation, continue to reach your dreams. You may, at some point in your lives, get to a situation where you couldn’t do it anymore, just always remember that there is nothing you can do unless you pray your worries to Him.

I know life is hard, but do not lose hope. If you feel like you’re lost and have no one to turn to, just look up. He will always be there. Just pray and trust His timing.