How some kids in the Philippines changed me

Ty and his friends

Born and raised on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, moving to Tokyo and attending an international school – I didn’t have a normal upbringing. I was lucky, privileged, and filled with opportunity – I’m thankful for this every day that I now attend New York University. What came with this upbringing was a great deal of travel – summering in Indonesia, weekend shopping trips to South Korea, 3-day weekends in Laos, spring break in Singapore – the list goes on and on. Of all of these trips though, the one that changed my life forever was community service in the Philippines.

As part of a service club, a small group of students including myself set up a mini carnival for one of the many “impoverished” areas in Manila, the quoted word being the BIGGEST understatement I’ve ever heard.

Once we reached the site, the excited chatter amongst my group died quickly as we stared in shock at the neighborhood. Garbage was EVERYWHERE. The entire neighborhood was built on top of a massive graveyard. People lived in shacks, or emptied out tombs that looked like dungeons. Kids were playing hide and seek behind tombstones, or chasing each other with toy guns made from old juice boxes they picked up off the street. Pretty different from my childhood, or that of anyone who’s reading this, dontcha think?





The thing is, despite the circumstances I described, the kids there weren’t all that different from the ones we’d see in the major affluent metropolis that are New York and Tokyo.

There were divas:





Check out his hat! :)

Basically, kids just being kids:

Kids Being Kids

Kids Being Kids

And, like all children, absolutely ADORABLE am I right?

I’ve seen the haves and have-nots in these cutie pies’ lives, and know that despite their have-nots, they have just as much potential as any other kid on this planet. They’re the future – the ones who can learn, grow, and make the world a better place. The only thing that keeps them from being able to do so, is opportunity. Sponsor a cutie pie, and give him/her the opportunity to reach their potential!

Contributed by Ty Matsunaga, volunteer with Maya’s Hope

If you want to sponsor Ram with Maya’s Hope… he’s waiting for you! To get started click HERE!




Read more about Jonel, another Maya’s Hope superstar!