When Typhoon Yolanda wrought havoc in the Visayas region in 2013, three sisters wasted no time in gathering toys to be sent to Tacloban in time for the Christmas season. These sisters: Ana Liza Tatlonghari – Velasquez, Anna Lorena Tatlonghari, and Phi Anh Tatlonghari – De Castro, were merely continuing a time-honored family tradition of sharing their blessings with street children. This time around, however, they wanted to involve the young members of their family in the planning, preparation, and implementation of a new giving project that has a broader reach.
The result is Project Ki.D.S, which stands for KIDS DEVOTED to SHARING.
“We believe in the mission of Gota.”
It was in 2016 when Project Ki.D.S and Gota de Leche crossed paths. The three sisters chanced upon Gota de Leche by “accident” as their next beneficiary, right after donating 30 cargo boxes of toys for their Toy Drive for the Tacloban Kids Christmas party project in 2014. In the same year, they also launched a gift-giving event for the kids at the Bahay ni Maria Orphanage, and in 2015, they sponsored 30 Wish Grants to the Make A Wish Foundation’s beneficiaries under the Children with Life-Threatening Diseases program.
How did Gota de Leche become one of Project Ki.D.S’ significant beneficiaries?
“We were looking for a new beneficiary and we wanted a more sustainable project that we can closely work with. We believe in the mission of Gota – to stop malnourishment and it was something that we can explain easily to the other kids that we work with, “ said Ms Phi Anh. “So far, we have been successful with most of our projects and hopefully continue to work with Gota “forever”; or at least until there is a need.”
Thus far, Project Ki.D.S have sponsored Gota de Leche’s 2016 Milk Drive for 100 Malnourished and PWD Children. This was followed by their donation of PhP 200,000 cash and other goods to the 2017 Milk Drive and Nourishment Project. The group continued helping the Gota de Leche beneficiaries in 2018 with two more cycles of Milk Drive, plus a Christmas Noche Buena Package for the year-end celebration.
Caring, comfort, carrying
This year, they transformed one of Gota de Leche’s unused stock rooms into a play area and waiting room for the special-needs kids and their guardians. The idea resulted from having a lot of people asking the group if they can donate toys, beds, and other kiddie accessories. Ms. Phi Anh and her sisters said they usually do not accept those things since their focus was on milk donations, but it got to the point when people were still sending toys and accessories. “We said, why not put it to good use? So we did… and now we have beds for children to rest on while waiting for their turn!”
One of the group’s proudest accomplishments also began this year with a drive called “Carry Me with your Love.” This new project aims to provide carriers and strollers for Gota’s special-needs kids. The Project Ki.D.S. members describe the experience as “…also memorable to us. Seeing the kids being carried by their parents in a more comfortable way is more than enough for us to feel good.”
Keeping the milk of human kindness flowing: The Kindness Heroes doll project
The group continues to be inspired by a quote from Mother Teresa: if you can’t feed a hundred, then just feed one. With the interest of the beneficiary always in mind, the Project Ki.D.S founders said that they don’t mind spending their own money, but they realize that there will come the point when they have exhausted all their means or lost some sponsors. This is when they start thinking of creative ways to sustain their giving projects even without monetary donations as their primary source of funding.
As a result of this creative thinking, they launched the Kindness Heroes Dolls project. “Genn” and “Charri,” which are short for Generosity and Charity, are a couple of cute plush superhero dolls that were launched in partnership with Rise Against Hunger. Each purchase of a Kindness Hero doll can support one special-needs child for ten months.
Talent, time, and treasure – what true sharing is about
When asked about the primary motivation behind Project Ki.D.S, Ms. Phi Anh Tatlonghari shared, “We wanted our children first and foremost to develop the value of gratitude and empathy for others; for them to appreciate what they have and share what they can give.”
She added: “We can not expect people to just give and give, for there is such a thing as “donor fatigue” and we don’t want our donors to feel that. In as much as we want to maintain lasting relationship to our beneficiaries, we need to maintain our credibility as an organization. That is also why transparency is very important.
We also have highs and lows, in the end, again, we can not rely on other people’s donations, it is through a collective effort of those who are willing that we should capitalize on. Talent, Time and Treasure are the things we can share. If we don’t have the treasure then we share our talent, or our time. That is what true sharing is all about.”
(all photos courtesy of Project Ki.D.S and Ms. Phi Anh Tatlonghari)