If there’s a Christmas story meant to be shared again and again, it is the story of how my group of lady guests met up with me at the NVC Showroom. 10 ladies were in the province for a 3-week spiritual seminar and a brief tour of Negros made for an interesting breather. The NVC Showroom was the late morning’s sole destination. A substantial amount of time would be spent marveling at the beautiful products of NVC Foundation’s Artisans of Hope and seeing some of these artisans at work. Lala, the group leader asked me, “We brought packed lunches. Where can we eat them?” My mind raced for answers and I was torn between picnicking at a public park and at an animal sanctuary we were visiting later. A concern like this can be worrisome for a tour guide because it involves matters such as security, hygiene, comfort and privacy for my guests.
The NVC Showroom is also the art-filled residence of NVC Foundation Founder Millie Kilayko, and the lady of the house happened to be there at that time. I rattled off to her the day’s itinerary including the dilemma for the picnic lunch venue. Call it a spirit-led answer because Millie quickly told me, “You can have lunch there.” “There” was the long table in her cozy boardroom with the capiz shell windows. The ladies were naturally delighted by this warm and unexpected invitation. A later social media post by Millie read, “I was reminded of Joseph and Mary seeking a room for the night. That’s how they ended up having lunch on my mother’s table (now mine, that’s why they’re eating with disposables).” The disposables weren’t a big deal for us (hello, packed lunch) but for this lady with gracious old school courtesies and manners, it was unforgiveable not to provide the proper chinaware and cutlery. It’s this graciousness that made her sensitive to the needs of ten strangers when I gave my version of, “There is no room at the inn.”
How typical of Millie Kilayko to be opening her home to strangers. She had done this with her heart eight years ago when she began creating Mingo Meals to help address the issues of hunger and malnutrition in parts of the country. Mingo meals are instant complementary nutritious food made of rice, mung beans, and moringa. These come in powder form and can be cooked into a porridge. 37 provinces in the Philippines, so far, have been served with these meals and the success rate in supplementing children’s nutritional needs is high.
Mingo is just one of the programs the Negrense Volunteers for Change Foundation had created to help society. Aside from the meals finding their way to undernourished areas, Mingo is also sent to disaster-stricken places in the country. Other programs are the Peter Project where motorized fishing boats are donated to fishermen or their helpers to help with their livelihood. There is also Project Joseph that provides “tools to skilled and talented persons with meager resources so they may enjoy better and sustainable incomes.” My favorite is the Artisans of Hope where trained artisans create beautiful pieces for a ready market.
So far, 10,000,001 Mingo meals have been served; 26,077 children are enrolled in the Mingo Meals Nutrition Program; 4,974 fisherfolks have received motorized fishing boats through the Peter Project; 645 tools have been distributed to skilled workers; 7,352 have been delivered to school children; and 211 classrooms have been built. All through the NVC Foundation. For opening your home to strangers, here is my Christmas wish for you, Ms. Millie: that more children will enjoy better nutrition through the kindness of strangers. To support, sponsor, or donate, please visit https://www.nvcfoundation-ph.org/mingo/.