As a child, young Kemabelle called her Pearl S. Buck International Child Sponsors, “grandma and grandpa.” That may be because Kemabelle’s US Child Sponsors were there for her through thick and thin, supporting and encouraging her for 14 years, the way grandparents do. Or it may be because Kemabelle is so desperate for family. She never knew her father, reportedly a member of the US Airforce stationed in the Philippines in 1991. Half of her relatives are unknown to Kemabelle.
Kemabelle was one of the lucky “Amerasians” who received the support she needed to make something of her life. She told a crowd of 50 people recently at the Share Your Blessings Child Sponsorship recruitment event held by Pearl S. Buck International in the Philippines, that it is because of the support of her Sponsor Family that she was able to graduate school with honors and go on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Social Work. Kemabelle now works full time as a social worker.
When the Philippines closed American military bases in 1992, servicemen left about 50,000 Amerasian children behind. Pearl S. Buck worked so fiercely to help these children and was so successful at raising awareness of this issue, she was actually credited with coining the term Amerasians.
Philippine Amerasian children were not recognized by the US government. And in a very conservatively Catholic country, many of those children were abandoned by their mothers to avoid the stigma of having a child out of wedlock. Some women kept their children and attempted to raise them on their own but were forced to do so in poverty. All the children suffered discrimination due to their bi-racial appearance.
Kemabelle’s story of prevailing against impossible odds was so moving to the attendees of the Share Your Blessings event that they started considering becoming Child Sponsors themselves. Former Mayor James Gordon and his family were also recognized at the event. They have been supportive of the work of Pearl S. Buck International in the Philippines since the time his late mother, Amelia J. Gordon, became a “mother” of 54 Amerasian children of the former Subic Naval Base. Mrs. Gordon was an Olongapo mayor and assemblywoman and awarded the Pearl S. Buck International Woman of the Year in 2002.
All the stories worked their magic. After the event, eight precious children became sponsored by event attendees! The Atrium Spa and Salon committed to sponsor one child at each of their six branch salons. Two individuals chose to become Child Sponsors as well.
It isn’t challenging to find children in need. The real challenge is finding people whose hearts are big enough to care about children in need. Pearl S. Buck International is thrilled to welcome eight new Sponsors. Staff and Board in the Philippines are already planning future events to be held in other areas of operations: Bulacan, Pampanga and Leyte.
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