Jemalyn thought her frail-looking young son, Jemuel Drake, was deaf because he barely spoke.

It was a good thing that Jemalyn decided to enroll Jemuel to the Supervised Neighborhood Play (SNP), a community-based school for young children inside the compound of the Manila North Cemetery (MNC) sponsored by the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI), in 2019.

Actually, Jemuel’s older brother, Jerriemy Wayne, entered SNP a year before, which was in 2018. Their mother found it beneficial to her older child, so it was an easy decision on her part to register her “deaf” child.

Jemuel was not deaf, after all. After two years of teaching him, I saw his transformation up close and personal. It was an effort to get a couple of words from him whenever I asked him questions at first.

But he slowly gained confidence as months passed by. Now, Jemuel can speak confidently in front of the class. Whenever he stands up to participate in a discussion, I felt pride and happiness for this child.

Pandemic came and things changed drastically and quickly. Schools closed down, yet the KKFI program continued. We held online class sessions, instead. I could see that the Covid-19 crisis failed to dampen the enthusiasm of teachers and parents.

Today, Jemuel Drake attends online classes regularly and participates in discussions actively. No one would believe that less than two years before, this same boy was a wallflower.

The lockdown and virtual classes gave Jemalyn the luxury to time to focus on taking care of her young sons. She observed that SNP has helped a lot in the metamorphosis of Jemuel from a shy, silent, and socially withdrawn boy to a young person who is eager to take on what the world can offer.

Actually, other children of MNC aged 3 and 4 years old who enrolled in SNP benefitted from the program in various degrees, all of them positive. They became friendlier, more active, and more comfortable with people.

Like Jemuel, these children demonstrated that they have the capability to improve in many aspects given the chance and the freedom to do so.

The SNP as a program under education has proven itself to be a significant part of the community since it has made a visible impact of the lives of the children of MNC. It has also taught the parents how to be more responsible in taking care of their children and that sending the latter to school is the best thing they can do for their children.

The KKFI is aware of that SNP can help children of MNC break the vicious circle of poverty and social exclusion they have suffered from all these decades. It is time Jemuel Drake’s generation to prove that they are not deaf. They can hear every sound around them. They are aware of their abilities. More importantly, they have the capacity to act to make their dream a reality.

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