February 20, 2011

Last Saturday I had the privilege of having an impromptu photo shoot with these lovely little girls who were playing in Fort Santiago.  The photos were simply stunning and as I was uploading them to my computer, I couldn’t help but think how fun it would be to print out a batch to bring back to the girls (printed photos are quite common in the States but here it’s quite a rarity that a lower-income family would both have a camera and the money to purchase prints).  And so I found myself selecting the best group shots and a solo portrait for each child and getting the batch printed at my nearest Kodak store.

Now, mind you, I had no idea how I was going to find these girls again.  They had looked very comfortable in the park (like it was their backyard), so I was hoping they lived nearby.  My game plan was this… 1.) Walk the perimeter and see if I could find them again  2.) Show the pictures around (like you would with a missing child) and see if anyone recognized them.  I know, not the greatest plan, but I was out of ideas!

The perimeter walk was unsuccessful so I went up to the entrance guard and showed him the pictures.  He seemed to recognize them and said something about the parking lot and pointed me outside the park.  Wild goose chase, here I come!  When I got to the parking lot I stopped the first woman I saw and showed her the pictures.  Low and behold, one of the girls was her niece!  She proceeded to shout rapidly in Tagalog and all of a sudden 2 of the 4 little girls came running over.  I can’t tell you how pumped I was to have found them!!  It turns out that all 4 girls were cousins and their parents and relatives sell food, souvenirs and horse rides to visitors of Fort Santiago (hence why they looked so comfortable – they lived right in that parking lot!)

I had just started handing out the pics to the girls when we were mobbed by a crowd of friends, neighbors and relatives (probably 25-30 people).  The pictures were grabbed out of our hands and passed from person to person, rapidly becoming covered with hundreds of grimy prints.  :)

It was pure joy, I tell you, to watch and be part of that scene.  To stare into those little girls’ faces and know without a doubt that they felt beautiful in that moment.  To make them forget that they’re playing in a parking lot wearing mismatched clothes and covered in dirt.

Because what I do know is that every girl deserves to feel special, no matter what her family’s financial situation.

And to think, all it took was $1 of photographs…

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  1. Nomads By Nature says:

    I did that for people in my town when in Peace Corps and I can imagine the pure joy and happiness you brought the kids and the parents from my experiences back then. Such a great gift!! And such a lovely group shot of the girls!!!

    Kudos to you for taking the time to find them again to bless them with a momento of a lovely day! I may have to start doing that here at my post now. I am inspired!

  2. Bethany says:

    That was PURE JOY to read! You and Nick have touched so many lives in the the Philippines – God knew what he was doing when he placed you there. It’s hard not to wonder what he has in store for you in Peru :-)

  3. sarahlynn60 says:

    Too cool! Have you commented before or is this just a different email address I don’t recognize? Where are you posted? Thanks for following our adventures!

  4. sarahlynn60 says:

    Thanks Bethany – we have been so blessed by our interactions with the Filipinos! The giving just flows so naturally when I’m around them. And yes, I too am curious to see what Peru will have in store for us!

  5. Nomads By Nature says:

    We are posted in Mozambique (our 4th!). We have been blogging for a while, but are newer to plugging into other State Dept blogs. Have recently discovered yours and are enjoying reading about your adventures. I loved this post and what you did for those girls and families. WAY COOL!

  6. sarahlynn60 says:

    Wonderful! Nice to meet you. Do connect with me on Facebook, will you? You can find me at http://www.facebook.com/minnesotagal/. I’m a big fan of the FS blogging community – it’s such a warm, supportive group of people. Can I get your blog site to check out?

  7. http://webtexans.wordpress.com/ is our link for Nomads By Nature. Would love to have you visit! The blog is our main way of telling about our lives to family and friends — happen to be one of those weird, minority, anti-facebook people. I am enjoying finding out more about the FS community through the blogs — I hear Peru is next for you??? How exciting!

  8. Rod says:


    Your posts are truly uplifting. So few people would even take the time. It’s amazing what a “simple” gesture like that could do! You give all these kids (and for that matter, everyone you’ve encountered) memories and moments they will ALWAYS remember.

    Thank you for sharing your grace and presence with my kababayans (countrymen).

  9. Katrina Buetow says:

    My dear Sarah-what a wonderful thing to do for these beautiful youg ladies! I have goose bumps and tears in my eyes from reading this story. You are an amazing gal (like I didn’t know that already!). It is amazing as a woman that the smallest gestures have the biggest impact on our lives, forget the LV handbag and the CL shoes, I would rather take a stack of GREAT LOOKING pictures of me anyday too!

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