At a young age of 21, Jeffrey has been in and out of jail for at least five times. He was your typical streetkid. If he is not aimlessly begging, he is either sniffing solvent with his friends to forget their hunger, or he is involved in a “rumble” with a rival gang.
Ronda and her biscuits
Little did Jeffrey know that his begging for food from a Canadian would later open opportunities for him to start his life anew. In 1998, Rhonda Wilson moved to Cebu, and was getting to know her neighbours. Sometimes on her way home, she would pass by Jollibee, a local fastfood chain where Jeffrey and his friends loiter around. She sees to it that she has a few packs of biscuits with her that will be given to the streetchildren.
But deep it in her heart, Ronda knows that the needs of these kids would be better addressed with a long term solution than just her sporadic visits and her spare crackers. When she returned to Canada, she realized that the likes of Jeffrey no longer need to beg in the streets if there was only a sustainable livelihood for them. She didn’t know how but she knew that she had to come back to the Philippines.
Where it all began
It was a simple gift that Nang Gliceria gave to Ronda that started it all. This gift was a handcrafted bag made from recycled juice packs. This immediately gave Ronda an idea on how to turn things around for Nang Gliceria and most importantly for Jeffrey and the other streetchildren in Lorega.
Soon enough, a slow yet steady enterprise was borne out of that simple token. Jeffrey was then given hope and another chance at life. He and his friends have collected juice packs and prepared them for production. Jeffrey, the third of ten kids (all their names start with the letter J) now works at several odd jobs to help support his family.
Like No Other
Jeffrey’s story is just one example that provides the defining mark of the Lorega bags. These bags are certainly like no other. The bags are made of empty juice packs which abound in the cemeteries near the depressed community. The doy packs are collected, and are carefully cleaned by Jeffrey and many other streetchildren. A few women in Lorega organize and arrange these colorful packs, stitching them into sturdy and attractive bags.
It is wonderful to imagine that for every Lorega bag that is sold, a lot of beautiful things happen: one less hungry streetkid, one less jobless mother who can now better look after the welfare of her children, and Lorega slowly transforming into a safe and peaceful, and vibrant community teeming with good life.
A portion of the profit was already used in making a day-care center for the children in Lorega. If you would like to purchase a Lorega bag or would like to help or know more, do not hesitate to contact Rhonda Wilson here.
I must thank Ericson Salindo and Rhonda Wilson. I would not have finished this article if not for their valuable inputs.