Field Notes – Thrive: Manila

Field Notes – Thrive: Manila

Smiles on, soap in hand, waiting for water.

This post is a written reflection by Ashley Spurlock, Manila, Philippines. 

This is Thrive:  This morning, two friends and I went to an area of Manila called Smokey Mountain. I’ve visited Smokey Mountain before, and each time I go it opens my heart a little more.

Apple? Check. Peanuts? Check.

Today I gave a little boy a bath while his aunt bathed his brother. These boys wear no clothes, they are covered in dirt from head to toe. They have no one to call “mama” and it breaks my heart. What can I do to help these babies?

Splashing around with chicks.

It can be overwhelming because the need is so great. However, sometimes it’s the simple things that can mean so much; an apple, a handful of peanuts, washing little hands with soap and water. They smile, they play, they laugh with their friends. For today, that’s enough. Thankful for this experience.

Thrive will be visiting Smokey Mountain on a weekly basis. If you would like to join us on a delivery, let us know! We’d love to have you!
A Rae of Hope for Thrive:Manila

A Rae of Hope for Thrive:Manila

Rae Siller may be just 10 years old, but she’s already making a huge impact on the world and on Thrive — her BE THE ONE community service organization recently collected and donated 300 bars of soap to help kids in need!

Thrive volunteers bring tubs of soapy water to each Thrive delivery on Smokey Mountain, a landfill consisting of two million tons of waste but, also, a home to the many children we serve.

“I started BE THE ONE with my mom without even realizing it,” said Rae. “Growing up, my mom always instilled in me the value of gratitude and service — that I should not always think about what I can do for myself, but ask myself what I can do for others. She always told me that I can BE THE ONE who can make a difference in one person’s life…or in many lives.” Rae and her mom practice random acts of kindness often, and she loves helping others and making people smile. So she decided to take it a step further and create a group that helps other kids her age to do the same. “I want to inspire my peers just like my mom inspires me. Little things can make a huge impact — I can BE THE ONE and so can you!”

“First, we started washing hands, but quickly realized that since soap was such a luxury here, kids were using it to wash all the way up their arms and more,” says, Marylu Fryberger, Thrive Manila

Rae’s mom showed her photos of kids living on Smokey Mountain who were being helped by Thrive, and she had an idea. “My mom explained to me that they live on a landfill. My heart got a little heavy and it saddened me, thinking about them living in and around trash and all of the germs and sickness that is associated with it…and I had an idea. Soap! They need soap! Then the brainstorming began!”

With some assistance from her dad, Rae contacted the United States Embassy to see if they could help. The United States Embassy Club (USEC) posted flyers for the soap drive, and people started donating soap they collected during hotel stays. “I never imagined we could collect this many bar soaps but I am so happy we did! And now we have 300 bar soaps for Thrive!”

You can find out more about Rae and BE THE ONE on her Facebook page.


A Meaningful Gift

A Meaningful Gift

In memory of her Uncle Tarik (left), Mira Haurani, donated her birthday to Thrive and raised $845 from her friends and family.

Throughout the year, the work of Thrive inspires people around the globe to donate their birthday to the children we serve.  This past week, Mira Haurani (newly ten), of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, did just that and raised over $800.  That’s over 1600 meals.

In lieu of birthday gifts, Mira asked her friends to donate to Thrive in memory of her late uncle, Tarik Ibrahim, MS MD, an accomplished neurosurgeon.  Tarik was humbly known as “Dr. Love” for his love and compassion of his patients and colleagues, alike.  His warm smile, caring heart, and affectionate demeanor were felt by everyone who met him. A testament to his character, Tarik’s true passion was helping those less fortunate as well as mankind, in general. His zeal for life and his love for humankind was above all else exemplified in his love for his nieces, Mira, Eva, and Amalie and nephews Nadeem and Malek.

When we asked Mira how she felt about the amount of money she raised, she replied, “Taco (Tarik’s nickname given to him by Mira) would be so happy that my friends and I raised money to feed hungry children. I am so proud of my friends.”

If you, too, would like to donate your birthday to us, send your friends and family to our page and have them leave us a message in the donation process. We will alert you of all donations made in your name so you can keep track of the difference you are making in the lives of the many children who rely on Thrive for nutrition every day.

Notes From the Field: Smokey Mountain, Manila

Notes From the Field: Smokey Mountain, Manila


The families on Smokey Mountain have no running water, so when Thrive brings clean water for drinking and washing up, moms take full advantage of the opportunity.

Today, as Marylu and I climbed Smokey Mountain, we were met with billows of smoke from the charcoal making and waving hands from the neighborhood children eager to help us carry the water and baskets of fruit to the community center. Once at the top, we worried we wouldn’t have enough food when we saw that the line snaked around the corner. It seems each time there are more people to serve. We estimate well over 190 children this week. Fortunately, we used our mother-honed skills and strategically sliced the oranges to ensure everyone got their fair share.

   Before the food distribution, Marylu lead the mother and children in handwashing, which for many kids ends up being a full-on body soak in an effort to rinse away the ash from the charcoal-filled air. It is touching to see a rough-and-tumble, 10-year-old boy reluctant to dip his muddy foot in the water, but within just a few minutes, he’s jumped in — the simple joy of rinsing off in clean water.
   Afterward, we chatted with Chin, an ever-present community member, who helps us hand out the food, to hear about his new work opportunities and what Thrive means to him and the community. See raw footage of Chin’s interview HERE.
Ariel Update:  November 2016

Ariel Update: November 2016


Our newest girl, Moriam, with her mother (at right).

We are excited to announce that Ariel School for Girls has five brand new students.  We welcome Sumaya, Onkeeta, Mukta, Moriam, and Ayesha.  This brings our total enrollment number to sixteen, although on most days only twelve to fourteen show up.  This is especially true now that the weather is getting cooler and bringing on sickness.


Sumaya is a new student at Ariel.

While our school is continuing to grow, we have been faced with the reality of losing students, too.  We lost a couple.  One of the girls isn’t coming back to school because her mother got into an argument with the school’s landlady, who banned her from ever coming on the school’s property. It was an argument that escalated quickly and clearly displayed that neither woman had the necessary conflict management skills to resolve the problem. Her daughter was so bright and eager to learn.  It brings us much sadness.


Children learning numbers in both English and Bangla by means of tracing.

The girls are now learning songs. We started with the Bangladeshi National Anthem. Also they recently started working with pencils, and guided copy of English and Bangla numbers.


Felix making himself useful.

We are going to order navy blue tights for winter, and also badges for their uniforms.  The mothers want school badges and ID’s because that’s what many other schools have.

I can’t forget to mention Ariel’s new kittens, Felix and Lyra.  They are a wonderful addition and help manage hand-washing and aid the girls in their studies.

– Rezwan Hussain (Ariel Founder)screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-10-35-53-am


Student Spotlight:  Milon

Student Spotlight: Milon

Milon and his mom live in a one-room house in Dhaka. They share one toilet and two cooking stoves with six other families. His grandparents and auntie live in a village in a tin shed house with a dirt floor and walls made of bamboo. They have electricity, but no gas for cooking. Milon’s mother works as a housekeeper. He feels happy when he gets good grades on his school exams and hopes to become an engineer when he grows up. After school Milon goes to work selling stickers, a job that many kids in Dhaka do to earn money for their families. For fun, Milon likes to watch TV.

Milon’s Favorites
At School: English
Sports Star: Saquib-ul-hasan, a Bangladeshi cricket player
Music: Singer Momtaz
TV Show/Movie: Tom and Jerry
Food: Biryani, a rice dish


🚨 #Bangladesh needs our help!

Flash floods have ravaged the north-eastern region of the country. Together with Jaago and Direct Fresh, we have organized a fundraiser on June 24th at Chows (see image for address).
You can also make a donation at (Choose “Emergency Flood Response in Bangladesh”)

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