Salt is a basic condiment for cooking in the Philippines. But in the small Sitio of Kabuhuan, Brgy. Puray, Rodriguez Rizal, salt has been a dish partnered with rice that serves to the hungry stomach of the residents there—one of whom is the 11-year-old boy named Joshua Acayen.

Joshua in front of their house made of sawali

“My mother died upon giving birth to my supposed to be 9th sibling. Together with my father, we are working all the means to survive our daily need for food and medicines (due to his brother who had a fever). Whenever my father is out for work, I need to be independent and serve my siblings. I collect tree branches for firewood, do the laundry, and cook rice with salt; sometimes it was partnered with instant noodles,” Joshua shared in a timid tone.

He is a very industrious and helpful son. He used to load charcoals to make an income of 15 pesos ($0.77) per household. And just by thinking about the hardships Joshua had gone through makes him shed a tear.

Joshua sharing fried fish to partner with vegetables for their feeding program

But when Operation Blessing came to help the kids in Sitio Kabuhuan, he was chosen as one of the beneficiaries of Bless-A-Child program. Through the feeding program, it was Joshua’s first time to taste different kinds of healthy and delicious meals! Because of that, he achieved a normal weight from his previous and underweight situation. He also excelled in Mathematics and loves helping Mr. Melchor Flores, a volunteer teacher in the Faith in Christ Academy- a starting school in the community.

Enjoying playtime with his classmates

Through a church, a local pastor was assigned in the area, and Joshua could not afford to miss Sunday services. “Gusto ko pong nag ch- church dahil masaya, lagi kaming nagkakantahan.” I like attending church services, I felt glad every time we’re singing together in the church, Joshua exclaimed.

Joshua happily strikes a pose with Gizmo when Batang Superbook visited their school in Sitio Kabuhuan, Brgy.Puray, Rodriguez Rizal

 To most of his classmates who dream of becoming a teacher, Joshua’s dream stands amongst them. “Gusto ko pong maging Pastor,” giggles Joshua. When asked about his favorite Bible verse, Joshua recited loudly “Exodus 14:14, The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”