(February 2015) Operation Flip Flop

Who says teens can't do great things? It's all about character, not age!

Cynthia Aspiras Kandra who, with her St. Agnes Mission Group in Huntingdon, PA (USA), is a major supporter of TAP's Benson Peace Village in Masbate, wrote me about a campaign spearheaded by Paloma Swankler, a 10-year old girl from her parish: "We had a Filipino missionary come to talk about his parish in Bicol and mentioned that the level of poverty is such, that the poor do not have even a humble pair of rubber slippers. This girl was so moved by that statement, she organized a flip-flop donation drive. The response was terrific and she sent all donations to you."

Thank you, Paloma! Imagine the astonishment and inexpressible joy of many children and their parents at our surprise delivery of the flip-flops. We had initially planned on going to selected homes with many children without footwear and actually did manage to deliver to the first three households on our list. But as our tricycle started to leave one household, we found ourselves surrounded by barefoot kids, and we met many more along the way. What sense was there to select households? Barefoot kids were everywhere! So we decided to just give away the slippers to any needy one we met. Then the rough and dusty road of Tinaclipan was suddenly transformed into a fitting room!

As some kids, assisted by their parents, tried a pair of flip-flops, others peeped inside the tricycle to see if there were more left for them. Unfortunately, we didn't bring enough of certain needed sizes, and disappointed faces were hard to paint! As consolation prizes the un-flip-flopped received some packets of milk or fruit drink or cake bars (I had the inspiration to bring some), and that, for the moment, was more than consolation indeed! With promise to come another day, we left content that Pilar and those who heeded her campaign had their act of kindness etched on the beaming faces of the benefited.

Worthy of note that adults, not only children, were asking for flip-flops too. When one man learned that it was a 10-year-old who was sending those slippers, he was aghast and somewhat embarrassed. To know that their benefactor was a teen backed by a large group of supporters made a great impact on the beneficiaries. Many were visibly moved and in awe. And certainly edified.