Written By Lily Mae G. Quilbio, Visayas Children’s Program Coordinator, Operation Blessing Philippines

Andie Neil Palermo is a 13 year old teenager from Brgy. Maligaya, Sta. Rita, Samar. He graduated 4th Honor of his grade six batch this school year. He was also elected as the Vice Mayor of their class.

Andy is the 3rd child among the 8 children of Mr. Noel and Mrs. Maricris Palermo. His father is a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and his mother stays at home and manages their sari-sari store and bakery. They are 12 in the family. Their eldest, Abegail, is already married and stays with them with her husband and a baby girl. Abegail and her husband help their mother in their business. The income that they have can sustain all the needs of the family.

Last school year 2013-2014, after the devastation of super typhoon Yolanda, Operation Blessing conducted a feeding at their school catering to pupils from Pre-elementary to Grade Six. According to Andie, feeding was a big help at their school especially to the pupils who hike for how many hours just to go to school.

Attendance was 100 percent during this time. Through feeding, he felt that he was blessed because the food that was served to them are food that he can eat with his family. This gives him the heart to be thankful not only for himself but also on behalf of his schoolmates who were able to taste the food being served.

The most unforgettable experience that he had from the activities of Operation Blessing was the basketball clinic. Here, they were not only taught how to play right and how to play as a team, but during this activity, he found God. This opened his heart to seek Jesus.

There were times he attends the young people’s fellowship at Jesus Christ the Great Shepherd Church and was able to attend the Sunday Worship Service. “What pushes you to attend the fellowship at the church?” I asked him. “I have felt a happiness I’ve never felt before,” he answered smiling. “I felt rested and calm,” he continues.

He was not able to go back to church because some of his friends are teasing him that he is already a born again, and his parents also do not permit him to go. With his prayer to be closer to God, he is praying that he can attend and be a part of God’s young people.

That is why, when he found out that the Operation Blessing is once again having an activity at the school, he became excited. He believes that additional learning would be imparted to them.

After the Child Protection Awareness Training (CPAT) he testified that he is thankful for the wisdom. Here he found out about all their rights as children and their responsibilities as well. Even if they are still children, they have the right to be heard in the community. What is most inspiring is the answered prayer that he has the freedom to serve Jesus.

Another prayer request he has is that, now that he will be in high school, what he heard and learned from the CPAT will be shared to the high school students of Tominamos Integrated High School as well so that these students will be blessed like him. “I am a shy person,” he said, “But I will do my best to share to other teenagers the wisdom that I got from the training.I will practice my responsibilities without grumbling so that the right that is due me will be granted and it will be seen by others,” he ended happily.