Arlene Santiago (Bahay Aurora Founder):

“The dream of Bahay Aurora started already when I was still in elementary school 50 years ago…

I used to walk to school. In the street I saw many poor kids eating from the garbage and sleeping on the side of the road! I felt so deeply sad seeing them eating from the garbage, sleeping and playing in the street, like they never went home, and the street was their home!  It touched my heart and it kept me busy in my dreams.

As I came home from school, I used to ask my mother (whose name was Aurora): “Why are those children eating from the garbage, why are they sleeping and playing in the street?” My mother replied to me that they probably have no parents, or they were just poor men’s children!

I was always so sad about what my mother told me.  I answered my mother that I wanted to help them. My mother used to tell me:  “Grow up, go to school and make sure you succeed in reaching your personal goals in life. When you got a good life, that will be the time you can help them!”

As I grew up I did all what my mother told me to do and I got a good life. Luckily, I found a husband who had the same advocacy in life, he also had this dream to help people who are in need. In short, we have concreted both of our dreams to help less fortunate people, we focused on less fortunate children.

In 1986, Herke and I approached my mother and we told her that we would like to realize my dream that I had before when I was a little child. My mother didn’t even think twice or doubted our plan to help needy children.  She told us that she wanted to support us in realizing our dreams and she admired us for our pure and kindness to do such sacrifice to extend help to the needy.

She right away told us that we could use a piece of land she owned in Baras and that this would be suited to our goal. That time our family was poor due to the Marcos regime. The government stole most properties owned by our family. Many people suffered from poverty and injustice, our family suffered too. We all paid a heavy price for corruption and a dysfunctional Justice system in the Philippines. For us we felt the sufferings of the whole family.  My Mother, Herke and I concluded that we will also help the family, if ever the project will generate work for those who are qualified and sincere. They can find a job in Bahay Aurora. Just in case that we will need people for this project, my family started to educate their children to learn and specialize how to deal with problematic, unfortunate kids.

Throughout the years around 25 percent of our employees are family. As we pursued this noble project, more members of the family were educated and specialized in this line of work!

We could only do this because of my mother Aurora who had a heart for other people and I have no doubt that if my father was still alive that time, they would be together on supporting us with our goal. As we promised to my mother to help the needy kids and her family. She for sure will be happy in heaven watching so many members of the family using their specialism in rendering their service to the needy!

“Let all things be done in love.” & “Welcome to the family”.

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