Saturday April 28, 2007 was a momentous occasion for the Bagong Barrio Education Fund (BBEF), as sponsors and friends gathered together with the Australian leadership team and special guest Brother Doug Walsh (program founder) to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
James Lee, director of the program, kicked off the event with a brief account of his involvement with the program and highlighted the powerful effect that education has had on the students and their families and how grateful they are.
Those gathered were then fortunate enough to hear from the founder of the program, Brother Doug Walsh. Brother Doug spoke about his first exposure to the Barrio back in 1987 and how the extreme poverty and the impact of the people he met, especially Nida Tapia and her family, whom he stayed with, inspired him to begin a formal sponsorship program. It was incredible to hear his story and to see how the program has developed from a single child 20 years ago to the 76 students that are part of it today. It really shows us that from little things do big things grow.
Liz Stearne and Michelle Miller then gave the sponsors an account of how life is like in Bagong Barrio today by sharing their stories and reflections from their visit in 2006. Their stories were aided by a slideshow of photos which enabled guests to see the reality of the students’ living conditions and their incredible transformations into their sparkling white school uniforms.
The afternoon provided a forum for sponsors to share their experiences of being involved in the program and to exchange ideas on things such as letter writing. It was refreshing to hear stories from some of our long-time sponsors including Philip Clancy, John Gaffney and Margaret Wedding. Newer sponsors also shared their experiences – Tracey Louey provided a most interesting insight into how her communication with her student has blossomed.
It was a delight to see so many sponsors there to celebrate. Thank you for your ongoing support, especially to those who attended and made the day a great success.