Born and raised on the beautiful island of Negros Occidental where she spent many happy and precious years, Anna Maria Claparols Balcells, at the age of 16, left for Barcelona, Spain, the land of her father to continue her studies and to establish a career. Soon after she arrived in Spain, she was shocked to see the great difference between this first world country and the third world country she had been living where poverty was so pronounced and widespread. With this realization, Anna found herself participating in projects in Barcelona spearheaded by organizations that helped the poor in her country, the Philippines and eventually Negros Occidental, the place of her place of birth.
One such project Anna became involved in was finding “parent sponsors” for The Chosen Children’s Village Foundation, based in Tagaytay City, Philippines. During one of Anna’s many visits to this children’s village, she was deeply touched by the tragic conditions of the children (some extremely disabled or totally disfigured; some mentally ill or schizophrenic). Many came from very poor families. BUT what left an imprint on her mind was how well taken-cared of these children were by the organization that ran the home.
With Chosen Children’s Village as her inspiration, Anna began to dream of someday putting up a similar facility in Negros. After 20 very enriching years in Barcelona and 8 years in Manila, where she successfully established a career in the field of hotel and travel, Anna found herself with a deep desire to go back home to Negros Occidental.
In 2006 Anna met Tony Meloto, founder of the Gawad Kalinga (GK) an NGO that builds housing villages for poor people all over the Philippines. Inspired by his vision Anna accepted the challenge of putting up a housing village in Talisay, Negros Occidental. On Anna’s urging, the City of Talisay allocated land for the establishment of the first GK village in the said area. Anna then wrote letters to her “Barcelona Connection” and was able to solicit substantial donations from her relatives and friends to start the GK project. She pledged to make this an ongoing project until 50 houses, a school and clinic are built in the village. To date, 30 houses have been built in the GK- Balcells Hope Village in Cabatangan, Talisay. A kinder school and a 2-classroom building for grades 1 and 2 has already been added.
Then a string of chance encounters with founders of children’s homes ensued. Anna was introduced by a friend to Phil and Cecilia Seckler, founders of Haven Children’s Home, a home for abandoned and abused children. Not long after, Anna met the founders of Calvary Kids Home and Recovered Treasures who had already put up homes for disadvantaged children in Negros Occidental. These meetings ignited Anna’s passion for helping the abused children under the care of these missionaries. Every encounter of Anna with the children tugged at her heart. Slowly she learned of the unspeakable suffering and abuses that these children endured. With a handful of like-minded spirits, Anna formed a team of ‘angels and warriors’ to help these homes.
In the beginning Anna used her house as her office and her small team heroically faced the many challenges. There were sleepless nights when Anna and her team were overwhelmed with so many tasks and responsibilities, uncertainty, and lack of funding. Anna and her team entered into a whirlwind of work and unending efforts to respond to the pressing needs of the children from the different homes. Anna’s vision became more apparent: to be a conduit of love and resources for NGOs committed to upholding the rights and dignity of abused children.
In June 2007, after some funds started to come in to help the homes, Anna sought the advice and help of some close friends, who urged her to put up a foundation to ensure the continuity of her advocacy. Thus the Kalipay Negrense Foundation, Incorporated (KALIPAY) was born. The Kalipay Negrense Foundation aims to ‘bring joy to disadvantaged children’. It seeks to make a difference by supporting the causes of these disadvantaged children.
Since its inception in June 2007, Kalipay Negrense Foundation, Inc. has helped 400 children in varying degrees through living expenses, education, housing, counseling and medical needs.
Currently, Kalipay Negrense Foundation, Inc. owns and manages two children’s homes:
HAVEN HOME is a children’s residence in Bacolod City. On the average annually, we have 30 children living in this home. Haven Home is purely residential and the kids attend various schools in the area.
RECOVERED TREASURES HOME houses an average of 100 children annually and also has a school from Kindergarten to Grade 10 within its complex. It is located in Bago City.
All two homes are run by full-time house parents. They are dedicated to the care of abandoned, malnourished, physically and sexually abused children… truly the helpless victims of society. Most of the children at these homes were sick and out of school when they arrived. Sadly their numbers continue to grow. Everyday KALIPAY helps rescue more children, even from neighboring Iloilo City. Kalipay exists to serve these disadvantaged children – to provide hope, healing and recovery.
KALIPAY assists these homes by soliciting funds to help defray their day-to-day living expenses, as well as their education and medical needs. KALIPAY also receives donations-in-kind like food, clothes, medicines, books, etc.
Through these homes, many lives have been transformed.
“Kalipay” means ‘happiness’ or ‘joy’ in the Ilonggo language, the language spoken in the southern island of Negros whose gentle people are called Negrenses.