GeneSoc's One Gene: One Child Program reaches a decade

By: Louise Jan Lopez (Replichore)

GeneSoc with the teachers and children of Hope Intervention Center during the One Gene: One Child HOPE Intervention Program

LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA - For 10 years in a row, The UPLB Genetics Society once again showed their love for the children of Hope Intervention Center in Calamba, Laguna on October 9, 2017 through its annual One Gene: One Child HOPE Intervention Program.

In the morning of October 9, GeneSoc arrived at the Hope Intervention Center in Villa Remedios, Calamba and met with the teachers and children of Hope. Each Gene approached a student of the center for One Gene: One Child and had a moment to interact with them and introduce themselves.

The Hope Intervention Center was established in 1998 for those parents who wanted special education for their children so that they could obtain the proper learning and understanding they need whilst their child’s disabilities. With the help of the City Social Services Office of Calamba and the Autism Society of the Philippines, the Hope Intervention Center was founded and has now more than 30 students and an increased number of teachers and therapists.

Dr. Mary Rachel Raventar, an alumnus of The UPLB Genetics Society, first introduced the One Gene: One Child HOPE Intervention Program to GeneSoc in 2007. Since then, GeneSoc would visit the center in Calamba, Laguna for the annual program and spend half a day with the children of Hope. For more than a decade now, GeneSoc has since cared for these children as it continues to uphold their passion and aspiration.

In starting off the program, Joshua E. Hernandez (Riboswitch) led the kids to sing and dance ‘Baby Shark’ together with the children. Surprisingly, even the adults had fun and were delighted that the room was full of joy with their children so cheerful. GeneSoc played the song for about 5 times, showing how the kids enjoyed singing and dancing.

As GeneSoc started to open cans of paint and started mixing colors together, the room became a playful area with kids running around to see what GeneSoc was planning next. The Genes then provided plain white drawstring bags of HOPE for the children to paint with for an art session. The Genes also assisted the kids to help paint and color their ideas to life.

The Genes never let the children become bored when they  read them stories from fantasies and fables that was obtained from several toy and book drives. These would later be donated to the center so that they could revisit the adventures in the stories.

Through all the activities prepared for them by GeneSoc, the children of HOPE became much joyous. And luckily, Genes brought with them Jollibee meals that the kids were more than happy to eat. The Genes helped serve the food to these children and while another Gene sang ‘Do Re Mi’ with the children to keep the fun from fading.

As their stay comes to a close, it was already time for the members of GeneSoc to leave but GeneSoc wanted the fun to stay. That's why they donated the school materials, books, and toys for the children to use in the center. GeneSoc also provided the children with HOPE shirts so that they would always remember the exciting day they had with the Genes.

Michelia Merrill Linne D. Malabrigo, the Outreach Committee Head of GeneSoc,  led the One Gene: One Child HOPE Intervention Outreach Program at the Hope Intervention Center in Calamba City this year. This is what she has to say when she was interviewed by the GENEWS Team about her experience:

GENEWS: “How did it feel to head the One Gene: One Child HOPE Intervention Program?”

Michelia Malabrigo (Outreach Head):
“Heading the One Gene: One Child Program was stressful and relieving at the same time. To most of my orgmates may know, my committee heads and I have been planning this event ever since August. Honestly, celebrating HOPE's 10th year anniversary added a bit more pressure on me and my heads. We are quite expected to make this event more impressive than it already was for the past 9 years. As the preparations go, I personally had a difficult time organizing the details and gathering new ideas on how to make this event "better." Good thing I got active committee heads (s/o to Lady, Micko, Lance, Noelle, and Arion) and a very suggestive former Outreach Committee Head (s/o Sandra Reyes) who constantly helped me through giving physical and emotional support all throughout.

On the event proper, no matter how prepared we thought we were, several problems still arose at the scene. However, seeing the kids smile and enjoy as they dance to "Baby Shark" and as they eat their spaghetti-chicken meal, all the efforts and hard work payed off. The genuine smiles and innocence that can be seen from the kids' faces were all priceless and really, really, really worth it. The fulfillment gathered in each of our hearts was indeed, unforgettable. At the end of the day, no matter how stressful it was for all of the resident members, giving and sparing a bit time and effort to these kids is still what matters. I really hope that through this activity, we have inspired other people to do good and to always serve the people.

If I were to put everything in a sentence, heading the HOPE Intervention Program: One Gene, One Child gave me the happiness and satisfaction that I could never get anywhere else.”

Other Genes were also interviewed regarding their personal insights in this year's One Gene: One Child Program.

GENEWS: ”How did it feel to meet the children of Hope Intervention Center?”

Rozel Razal (GeneSoc president and HOPE Volunteer):
“Being with the children of HOPE is always a different experience. Even though the meeting was brief, their impact to us is massive. It makes you realize how different people live. We take for granted our ability to talk and communicate with others, while some of the children cannot even express their feelings and their needs.”

Lance Lopez (HOPE Volunteer):
“This was my first HOPE and it was a very memorable experience. The children were so active. They ran, jumped, sang, and danced out of excitement and joy as if nothing can hold them back. The kids from HOPE reminded that I should never forget to be adventurous, to be curious and to be happy just like they were.”

Gabrielle Cortez (HOPE Volunteer):
“I had fun at HOPE. I enjoyed bonding with the kids, especially during snack break, since the kid I was watching over always pinched my cheeks-it was adorable. When the activity came to a close, we said our good byes and went on our way. I was extremely happy about the event and left me hoping for more."

The trip to Hope Intervention Center ended but not before leaving fun-filled memories and experiences for both the Genes and the children of Hope to cherish.

Through the One Gene: One Child HOPE Intervention Outreach Program, GeneSoc has achieved to promote and create awareness about the science of Genetics in the Philippines. GeneSoc continues to triumph the society’s goals and vision in a feat to also bring fun and joy to other people. 

The Hope Intervention Center is a school intended for children with autism, which is a neuro-developmental disability that affects the child’s ability to be able to communicate socially with other people. The Hope Intervention Center is the first special education school in Calabarzon.

The UPLB Genetics Society, to prepare for their visit to the Hope Intervention Center, had conducted various fund-raising activities and both book and toy drives for the past few weeks prior to HOPE in order to provide the children with new books to read and new materials they could use in the center.