Hello, my name is Jovan Mello.
As long as I can remember, helping the kids through PIA has been part of my life. My grandmother Dr. Ruth Hill has been participating in PIA before I was born. When I was four years old, my mom and I decided to get involved. My mom would always tell me that we would be committed to helping these kids until they graduated from high school, which to me seemed like forever.
Our first kids were Kassandra and Dan Ed. My mom would share their letters and cards with me. The cards were sometimes written in English, and the other times in Tagalog, which I couldn’t understand. The kids were always grateful for our help, but what I liked most was when they would share their goals and dreams of the future with us. I felt like I got to know them over time, almost like they were part of our family.
When I was six, we went to the Philippines with my grandmother and had a chance to meet her kids and ours.
We met with the kids, their parents and social workers at Rizal Park in Manila. We visited and took some pictures with them (as you see here). Afterwards, we invited them to lunch at the closest restaurant we could find which was a Jollibee. I will never forget how quiet the kids were, and how carefully they ate their food. We found out later that the reason the kids were so shy, and careful with their food, was because they had never eaten in a restaurant before. I remember finding that so hard to believe, since I had eaten in restaurants all my life.
A couple of years ago Dan Ed graduated from high school and finished the program, and I am very happy to say, Kassandra just graduated high school this year as well.
We now have two new kids, Jonathan Acol, and a deaf boy named Stephen Gatalado. We began helping Stephen on the day of the PIA fashion show last year, after hearing how the struggle is harder for these children.
I feel very fortunate that I have grown up with PIA in my life.I am very confident in saying that as long as PIA is here to help the children, my Mom and I will be involved. We know our money is really going directly to help the children with schooling, because we have seen it for ourselves.