We can’t thank Melissa enough for this honor and support to the scholars and users of the 5 Kris Libraries in as much One Peso for every Satti bought goes to the Kris literacy advocacy.
Through this deed, we got to feel first-hand the magic behind Project PEARLS, which stands for Peace, Education, Aspiration, Respect, Love, Smile.
Here’s how Project PEARL is described in its website:
“Founded in 2008 by mother and daughter, Melissa Villa and Francesca Villa Mateo, initially to help Melissa's deaf and mute childhood friend and daughters who are living in a squatter area. Realizing that their extra savings in dollars go a long way in the Philippines, they started sending school supplies to children in different slum communities. In 2010, Melissa was introduced to the children of Ulingan by photo journalist, Sidney Snoeck. Since then, the focus of Project PEARLS' outreach efforts is in Ulingan, a slum and garbage dumpsite community where over 400 families contend all day with the heat, fumes, dust, stench, flies, mosquitoes and vermin. Project PEARLS, under the leadership of Melissa's brother, Juan Villa has a weekly Feeding Program, Scholarship Program and quarterly Medical Mission in Ulingan.”
But what is great about Project PEARL is Melissa’s commitment to help little-known, struggling and fund-deprived advocacy groups like the Kristiyano-Islam Peace Library (Kris) get on its feet.
Although our meeting was short, we can’t thank Ms Melissa enough for the advises and nuggets of wisdom shared and the inspiration to continue on with our mission no matter how hard the challenges we face and no matter if we are at times driven to just give up the fight and return to our relatively hassle-free and stress-free family lives; and personal careers and businesses.
It was inspiring to know, for instance, that apart from the stress of running a full-time non-government organization from a small circle of family and friends, Ms Melissa has to stretch her work hours deep into the night so that she can have time to communicate with donors and volunteers here who are just starting the day at a time Melissa’s family should be going to sleep.
And Melissa does this after coming home from a long day at work and at the same time attending to her family responsibilities without the help of maids and drivers like Filipinos here have at their disposal. Having filed news stories from Spain, Itali, the Vatican, Canada and the US for the Philippine Daily Inquirer where I worked for 14 years, I can very well relate to Melissa’s hardships in working through various time zones to meet distinct deadlines.
Thus, we thank God for Melissa’s gesture of helping our start-up Satti Funds for Kris Libraries social enterprise but more so for giving us the psychological help and morale support we greatly need because like all advocates and NGO workers, we are all human too and prone to occasional bouts of doubts about the relevance of our work, extreme tiredness; and stress from the heavy task of working to make this world a better place one book and one kid at a time.