Football at the Melvin Jones football field in Baguio City. All muddied up, grimy and sweaty, the boys exuded determination and seem to be organized in their play and training. Inspite of their lack of appropriate football gears they seem not to mind. All of them were using old rubber shoes or second hand football shoes sourced from Baguio’s wagwagan (second hand stores).
As Goshen Land spoke to them personally, we learned that some of them are struggling with poverty. “Pumapasok ako na di kumakain kasi wala ng pagkain sa bahay,” said one kid who eventually became one of Goshen Land Caring Hand’s scholars. The kids come from the city’s elementary and high school public schools. Most of them were also struggling with their academics and an unhealthy obsession with computer gaming which causes them to go home late. At such a young age, some of them are also confronted by perplexing family problems that lead to their character struggles.
Seeing their needs, Goshen Land Caring Hands devised a scholarship program to address first “the inside” before their needs in the outside. “Lahat kasi ng bagay sa buhay sa loob nagsisimula,” said Goshen Land CEO Alexander Bangsoy. The program has a heavy emphasis on character development through personal and collective responsibility tasking, life coaching, mentoring, tutorials and fitness through grassroots football. Together with other members of the Cordillera Goshen Land Football Club, they are also given training on living for a vision higher than themselves. Mike Arbela, a first year college student scholar says he sees himself working as an engineer or an architect at Goshen Land in the future.
While a public high school might be prone to negative influences, the Goshen Land Caring Hands scholars say they now have the wisdom to avoid gang wars and vices. “My spiritual well-being and character were improved and developed due to the life coaching they provide,” Spencer Galasa, another Goshen Land scholar shared. James Mansueto, another scholar said the program’s life coaching and mentoring programs helped keep himself away from computer games addiction. “When I became a Goshen Land scholar, there are lots of changes that happened in my life,” added Spencer, whose 13 year old brother Judel is also a Goshen Land scholar. Jay-ar Jorolan, a grade 10 scholar and the son of a security guard says he uses a portion of his scholarship allowance for food. “Sometimes I use a portion of my weekly scholarship allowance to buy rice if my father does not have enough money,” he said. Now, Goshen Land Caring Hands, the entrepreneurial social responsibility arm of Goshen Land has 16 scholars and is looking towards adding more in the future as it grows Benguet Arabica coffee in its Blue Ridge Mountains development to support the program. “I will not waste the help Goshen Land keeps on providing for us,” Galasa said. ***Nestor Udan/Pheobe Grace Sumilep, JD