This is a post for Mondelez Philippines, on their Joy Schools’ Program, which Make it Blissful supports. As a former teacher, this is close to my heart. Please watch the video and be inspired to support this cause. Thank you. (You can visit my Mondelez foods’ recipes on blog here

Her name is Ranzelle Ann Sombrero and this is her story of joy. Ranzelle, residing in Tacloban was one of the hundreds of thousands of children greatly affected by Typhoon Yolanda. Perhaps due to the trauma she experienced or perhaps this was how life was for her but Ranzelle was a quiet girl, hardly participating in school activities and always absent due to various illnesses. Thankfully there was someone looking out for her, someone who thought she deserved to experience joy in her young life.

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That someone was her Teacher Villa P. Nacilla of Panalaron Central Elementary School in Tacloban. In June 2014 the school became one of the adopted Joy Schools of Mondelez Philippines. Seeing Ranzelle’s undernourished condition, Teacher Nacilla made sure that Ranzelle would be part of Mondelez Philippines’ daily feeding through the Joy Schools program.

 

“Wala po kasi akong makain minsan sa bahay dahil hindi nakakapaghanda si Lola. Ang nanay ko naman po nasa Maynila. Hindi ko po alam kung nasaan si Tatay,” goes Ranzelle’s story.

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Turns out, those daily meals helped do wonders for Ranzelle. The daily rice, viand, fruit and snack she received for nine months helped make up for what she lacked at home. Ranzelle began to be active in class, always reciting, always raising her hand to answer teachers’ questions. Coming to school was exciting; not only because of the full meal she would receive but because of the energy she now had to learn and develop.

In March of this year, Ranzelle not only passed the 4th Grade, she also achieved the 1st Honor rank in her class. Her nutrition has improved and she now even enjoys her school’s playground. Ranzelle is living proof of how with a little joy, great things can happen for the future leaders of the country.

Bringing Joy, Creating the Future. Launched in 2013 during Mondelez Philippines’ 50th year in the country, the Joy Schools program aims to help create joyful centers of learning through interventions for nutrition, teacher training and facilities improvement. Unique in its own right, the Joy Schools aims to help turn sadness into joy for three of the most pressing problems of public elementary schools today.

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Now celebrating its 52nd anniversary, the Company formerly named Kraft Foods has seen more than a thousand stories of joy created through the help of its 9-month daily feeding program for undernourished students, urban gardening seminar for schools and parents, teacher values formation and skills training, and facilities improvement to create a conducive and joyful learning environment. All these the Company was able to achieve through the support of its partner, the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).

The Results of Joy. In March of this year, 85% of its 1,064 feeding beneficiaries achieved normal nutritional status, from being undernourished. Feeding programs are great motivators for attendance as such 90% of these students became present everyday during the last school year. Furthermore, their constant attendance ensured they achieved and maintained above passing grades for the whole year.

It wasn’t just the students who experienced joy either. Teachers received exclusive training from the Ateneo Center for Educational Development and the Learning Library. Parents received training from East West Seed Foundation and supplies to start their own gardens and grow their own vegetables. Also, schools received books and sports and play equipment for their students’ enjoyment. Truly, joy was felt by everyone.

Joy You can Take with You, Always. Lady Ryzza Sanchez, now a Grade 3 student of Joy School Padre Zamora Elementary in Pasay has her own story of joy. Her story starts with as much sadness for Ryzza was a concern for her teachers for being noisy, disruptive and talkative in class. Teachers’ patience was tested, including that of Teacher Lailane B. Atregenio.

“Ryzza, bakit ka hindi nakikinig sa klase?” was Teacher Atregenio’s question.

“Teacher, hindi po ako marunong magbasa.”

These were the five words in Ryzza’s story that would help result to great joy in her life. It was through the learning from the Remedial Reading seminar Teacher Atregenio attended and the help of the new remedial reading corner, both provided by Mondelez Philippines that Ryzza began to learn to read. Excited, Ryzza would read even at night, memorizing the words and letters she copied that day in her notebook. She started with words, and eventually moved to books like her favorite “Si Daginding.”

As Ryzza began to read, she also began to gain self-confidence. Now a transformed book lover, Ryzza isn’t part of the remedial reading class anymore but she drops by from time to time to learn some more and create more joy for herself.

The stories of Ranzelle and Ryzza tell us that joy cannot be donated or given. It is created together, through partnership and concern for each other.

“Two years into our Joy Schools program we have seen that the true joy comes from the passion and dedication of our partners, teachers, principals and parents,” shares Maria Cindy C. Lim, Head of Corporate Affairs of Mondelez Philippines. “Together, we are able to help the students create joy for themselves, to write and weave these stories of joy that hopefully they will remember forever. We’ve helped create more than a thousand stories so far, and we’re eager to help write a thousand more as we continue our program this year.”

For more information on the Joy Schools program, visit Mondelez’s Community Partnerships page and watch the stories of Ryzza and Ranzelle. Mondelez Philippines is celebrating 52 years in the Philippines.