North America introduced much to the Philippines: basketball, the showbiz industry, its education system. One export we were grateful to receive here at Mercy in Action was Brice and Michelle Quibodeaux, who have decided to return to Louisiana after committing three years of their lives to helping our vulnerable clients at Chelo’s House.
So, what better way to celebrate their three-year journey than to throw a massive party?
Children and staff rocked up to the venue early last Monday morning and worked their socks off to convert a bare-bones room into a tropical paradise, in-keeping with the party’s Hawaiian theme. Palm fronds fixed to the wall, colourful table cloths, BBQ and flowery shirts aplenty helped complete the island vibe at the outdoor swimming complex in Talisay City where the despedida (Spanish for ‘leaving party’) was located.
Brice and Michelle, who were recruited in May 2014 as missionaries fulfilling the role of house parents at Chelo’s House, were greeted by rapturous applause. Children, whose lives have been touched by the couple - including those from Chelo’s House, the girls home and the boys home - performed presentations for them, featuring dancing, guitar music and even solo-singing. Brice and Michelle then received a number of gifts from the kids, including a pair of beautiful hand-drawn portraits, and a large sheet of coloured paper with personal messages.
“It’s hard to say goodbye,” said Michelle after the party. “But we will be coming back to visit. Hanging out with everyone was great - especially as it was for a whole day. I talked to several of the boys one-on-one and told them how much they have grown over the years. The presentations were fantastic to watch - particularly as we’ve seen them improve their skills over time.
“To know where they have come from and then to see the culmination of their hard work - it really did my heart good.”
After the presentations, the guests indulged in a delicious feast prepared by Mercy in Action's cook. Once the pork, chicken, fish, noodles and rice had been greedily gobbled up, the children sprinted outside to take advantage of the swimming pools, while staff sung their hearts out at the karaoke machine.
Asked what his favourite experience had been during his time with the charity, Brice said it had been his relationship with the boys. “These boys have had horrific abuse situations. There was a lot of learning and watching to do at the start, when the boys weren’t sure if they could trust us, but slowly they brought those protective barriers down. Watching them work on their lives and seeing the transformations has been amazing.”
Regarding the despedida, Brice said: “Being around [the children] is always enjoyable but it’s bittersweet leaving. We are trying not to make it a big emotional event for the kids and we have purposefully been transitioning our role to others over the last couple of months. But reading the letters from the kids yesterday was very emotional for us.”
During their time with the charity, Brice and Michelle worked with boys from Chelo’s House, who have been rescued from environments of alleged sexual abuse. They helped with the setup of the home and have worked as houseparents, with duties including cooking, daily devotionals, getting the kids ready for school, making sure they get ready for bed, helping them with homework, family visits and much more. They will be greatly missed by the whole Chelo’s House team, as well as Mercy in Action directors in the Philippines, Emily and Tim Rosal.
Brice added: “The home’s in a really good place right now emotionally, and the new house parents fit in well because they know the language and they are from this culture.”
Brice and Michelle will return to Louisiana, where Brice will take up IT work again, and Michelle will turn her skills to working for other charities. The couple have already committed to visiting Mercy in Action again in November. We are looking forward to seeing them again soon!
Brice and Michelle Quibodeaux, have decided to return to Louisiana after committing three years of their lives to helping our vulnerable clients at Chelo’s House. Read more about their leaving party!
Mercy in Action is excited to announce it has been granted a foster licence by social services for the first Mercy In Action foster family. This will allow Baby P, who has cerebral palsy, to receive round-the-clock care and stay long-term with his amazing foster family while still being supported by Mercy In Action.
One of the first charities throughout the whole of Cebu to receive a foster licence for dedicated foster carers working under their umbrella, Mercy in Action now employees long-time friend Mama Emilita and her husband to foster three-year-old Baby P. The decision means the foster parents will receive support, supplies, finance and medical care for Baby P from the charity and ensures Baby P receives a secure future.
Baby P first came to the attention of Mercy in Action almost two years ago after he was abandoned at a hospital. At that stage, he was moving very little, and doctors originally thought he was malnourished. He was referred to Mercy in Action’s Spring Village - otherwise known as the boys home - where it was hoped he would recover and grow up.
Mama Emilita was employed as a house parent at the boys home at the time. Baby P was very sick when he first arrived, and Mama Emilita cared for him through the night. It was only later discovered that he had cerebral palsy. Over the next year and eight months, Mama Emilita and her family grew very close to Baby P, and Mama Elilita and her husband came to think of him as their own son. [caption id="attachment_8073" align="alignleft" width="219" caption="Baby P and Mama Emilita"][/caption]
Mercy in Action applied to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for a foster licence for the family with low expectations, as very few charities had applied in such a way at that point. The charity was delighted to receive the official stamp of approval for their first family a few days ago!
Mama Emilita, who has two other sons aged 9 and 12, said she and her husband were “very happy” with the decision. Describing Baby Paul’s personality, she said he likes to laugh, but he can also be very demanding. “When Baby Paul asks for milk, he wants to have milk right away!” she said. “He’s the boss, and he will cry if he doesn’t get milk right away.” She added Baby Paul also likes to stick his tongue out at people, a skill that was taught to him by current boys home house parent Papa Jeffrey!
Mercy in Action director in the Philippines, Emily Rosal, said: “I’m so chuffed it’s gone through. We were told years ago that local social services would not allow foster families to work under their umbrella but now here we are, and the fact that we are one of the first charities in Cebu to achieve this is really exciting.” [caption id="attachment_8074" align="alignright" width="282" caption="Baby P at his session with the occupational therapist"][/caption]
To get the families foster licence approved, Mercy in Action had to carry out extensive research into Mama Emilita and her family, which the charity then presented to social services. Following this, social services carried out their own inspection of the family environment.
This is what Mercy in Action does best - rescuing children and seeing their lives transformed.">
Baby P cradled by his new foster parent, Mama Emilita. Mercy in Action is excited to announce it has been granted a foster licence by social services for the first Mercy In Action foster family. This will allow Baby P, who has cerebral palsy, to receive round-the-clock care and stay long-term with his amazing foster
Mission and Vision Statement
Mercy in Action works to alleviate the suffering of children living in poverty in the Philippines through feeding, education, shelter and love.
Our dream is to see an end to the abandonment, abuse and trafficking of children, and to see their lives restored and their communities transformed.
With your help, real and lasting change can be made
Every child deserves the right to shelter, education, sanitary conditions and above all, a stable and loving home where they are nurtured and loved unconditionally. Sadly this is not the case for hundreds and thousands of street children in the Philippines.
We wish to see an end of children living in squalor and hopelessness on the streets, and instead to see their lives totally restored by providing all that they have missed out on. Huge amounts of unconditional love are essential, along with all the professional and practical support necessary to provide for their needs if we are to succeed. At Mercy in Action we believe each precious life has a worth beyond measure but only with your help can we see real and lasting change made and dreams realised.