Charity begins at home. But sometimes, we need to get out of the house to learn what charity is. BeCause of You is a theatre that provided the kids with a chance to learn about philanthropy.
Yesterday my kids ran around the Raffles Hotel Concert Hall begging strangers to buy bears from them.
They were selling bears to help raise funds to provide the House of Hope with the means to purchase IV medication for young cancer patients residing at the transient home for children at the Southern Philippines Medical Centre (SPMC), the largest public hospital in the Philippines.
Armed with their baskets of bears, a smile on their face, my kids approach anyone attending the concert to buy a bear for $15. The buyer could keep the bear or donate it to the children at House of Hope.
What I especially like about this exercise was that it was kids helping kids. They may not fully comprehend the magnitude of their actions, but I hope this experience plants the seeds of philanthropy in their young minds.
Asking people to part with their money is not easy.
Selling the bears yielded quite a few lessons for the kids. First, they had to overcome their shyness to approach complete strangers to buy their bears. This is made more difficult when there is competition. There were ten other kids doing the same thing to a small pool of concert goers.
My son (Big Bro), 9, was quite adept at explaining the charity purpose behind the sale of the bears and so was able to gain a head start from his Little Sis, 7, who had to rely more on her sweet charms to sell the bears. Luckily, she conquered her fears after mom did a few practice run with her. She managed to sell ten bears in total at the end of the concert intermission.
Second, they learned to deal with rejection. No matter how charming or politely they asked, some people were simply not interested to buy a bear. After some initial disappointments, they learned to toughen up and press on (which I’m quite proud of).
Third, persistence is key. If at first, you get a rejection, ask someone else. Ask and ask again. Someone, at some point, may change their minds and say yes. Little Sis did just that. She asked a set of three young adults during the intermission. None of them seem keen, but they didn’t know how to say no to a little girl either. So, Little Sis just stood there with her basket of bears until one of them finally said, “ok, we will take two bears!”
How did we get involved?
I bumped into Joanne (Poon) one Sunday a month back while we were having lunch. We had known each other before but lost touch when Little Sis and Joanne’s elder daughter, Maeve started primary school. We had also missed Joanne’s earlier charity production Brave Maeve two years back.
Brave Maeve was a production depicting Joanne’s own daughter’s battle with cancer when she was three, and the trials and tribulations the family went through during that trying period. Maeve, now eight, is completely free of cancer. The family continues to work as a team to raise funds and awareness for children with cancer throughout the region.
BeCause of You was the result of a breakfast with Dr. Mae Dolendo, an oncologist at Southern Philippines Medical Centre in Mindanao. She is also the founder of House of Hope. Dr. Dolendo’s account of the impoverished families who sold everything they own to save the life of their precious child resonated with Joanne.
Joanne shares, “the breakfast got me thinking how blessed my child was, to have full access to treatment, supplies, whatever is needed to help her beat cancer, which she did. Other children may not be as blessed. Dr Mae shared that IV antibiotics are not always so easily available and is dependent on them getting funds through donations. From personal experience, IV antibiotics saved my child’s life each time her immune system dropped to practically zero, which was after every single round of chemotherapy. I knew I had to do something to ensure no child dies at the dawn of their life, just because thy have run out of antibiotics.”
When I heard about Joanne’s current project, BeCause of You, I bought tickets on the spot and asked if she needed help. Well, you know the rest.
BeCause of You was performed by a stellar cast of talented local singers and musicians — Benjamin Wong, Julian Wong, siblings Daphne and Dwayne Lau, Mina Kaye, Linden Furnell and amateur a capella group, Sentimental Journey. Even young Maeve performed. Sharing a moment with Joanne after the concert.
UPDATED on 4 August:
Message from Joanne Poon:
THANKS TO EVERYONE, HOUSE OF HOPE CAN RECEIVE S$21,000 WORTH OF IV MEDICATION FOR THE YOUNG CANCER WARRIORS!
We have raised about S$21,000 from the “BeCause Of You” concerts, thanks to all the audience, donors, sponsors, guest performers & volunteers in all areas!
We are now working with a pharmaceutical company to buy the required medicines to be delivered to House of Hope in Mindanao, Philippines.
Watch this page for further updates on the donation of these medicines.