We Have a Home! by Jemar, Jimmy, and Jojo Cornelio

jemar cornelio brothers siac feb 2013
On April 1st, 2012, Jemar Cornelio, a student of The School in a Cart in Cubao, the Philippines, wrote an essay for Lift the Lid titled My Prayer. He and his family were promised living quarters by a TV hostess for participating in her program. They waited many months, but it seemed the promise had been forgotten. Jemar, 12 years old at the time, was born and raised on the streets of Quezon City; a real home was his prayer.

Finally, in November of 2012, the promised was fulfilled and the Cornelio Family moved to a 4 x 8 square meter unit built by Gawad Kalinga (Grant with Compassion), a nonprofit organization that provides housing for the homeless. Former US President Jimmy Carter once participated in the project, when, after his term, he visited the Philippines to help build houses.

Jimmy and Marlyn Cornelio and their five boys: Jemar (12), Jimmy Jr. (10), Jojo (8), Jinelyn (6), and James (3) have a house they can call their own, a security they never had before.

When asked what it feels to have a roof over their heads, the three eldest boys wrote a prayer, thanking God. Jemar’s essay reads (translated from Tagalog):

“Thank you Lord for the house you have given us. We can now sleep soundly. Unfortunately, when we wake up the following day, there is no food on our table and we go hungry. Both our parents have no permanent job. It is difficult because we go to school without breakfast, no packed snack to take, and we return home to find dinner is not there. My mother does not know where to get food for us. We are happy we now have a house but are finding it difficult without food to eat. Lord, help us and give us a means of livelihood so we don’t have to suffer. Thank you Lord!”

Jimmy Jr. and Jojo wrote essays similar to their older brother Jemar. Jimmy Jr. writes that he can sleep through the night in their new home, but wakes hungry in the morning, and Jojo adds, “We are happy for the house. We breathe fresh air, but I cry every time we go to school hungry.”

Sufficient food and electricity are two basics they still go without. Marlyn stays with the children at the house during the weekdays, while Jimmy returns to busy 20th Avenue to scavenge and sell junk. Come the weekends, Marlyn and the boys meet up with their father to attend The School in a Cart. There they get a good meal.

Jemar, Jimmy Jr., and Jojo Cornelio thank Carole from Maryland for the chance to share their story. The School in a Cart is very grateful, as well, for Carole’s generous donation.

jemar cornelio we have a house essay siac mar 2013
jemar cornelio we have a house essay siac mar 2013