What Helen Keller and our time in the Philippines have in common

This month I’m blogging from the Philippines on behalf of Love146. You’ll understand today’s post more if you’ve also read the others:

“There is joy in self-forgetfulness. So I try to make the light in others’ eyes my sun, the music in others’ ears my symphony, the smile on others’ lips my happiness.” ~ Helen Keller

Helen Keller and the Philippines. The two will be forever connected in my mind.

When we arrived here five weeks ago I was finishing up Keller’s The Story of My Life. Her journey of triumph over literal darkness amazed me–from the depth of challenges she had to overcome, to the lifelong help she received from Annie Sullivan, to the courage and compassion she showed by her desire, in spite of severe disability, to make a difference in the world.

I happened to come across an animated version of her life (through our Discovery Education membership) and I watched it with the kids. They became equally engrossed in her story. In typical homeschooling fashion one link led to another, and we landed on this clip of Helen actually speaking on YouTube.

Jonathan (almost 9) was especially inspired: “I want to learn everything I can about Helen Keller!” (Where he gets this all or nothing spirit from, I have no idea. Ahem.)

I downloaded these books about her life, and he devoured them all in a few days:

Helen Keller

A few days later I walked into a bookstore here in Manila while planning the library for the girls in the Round Home. When I saw this overview of Helen’s life on the shelf, I knew I had to get it for them.

Helen keeps popping up in our family conversations–just last night at a restaurant the kids were filling Steve in with new details. We talk about all the potential she had on the inside even before Annie Sullivan arrived–about how the right help at the right time resulted in her freedom.

But what if no one had ever believed in Helen’s potential? What if no one had given her the literal hand she needed to rise above and escape the darkness that surrounded her?

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
~ Helen Keller

Love146 serves a similar role in the lives of the girls at the Round Home who have been freed from child trafficking in the Philippines. Each life–so unique, so special, so much potential–waiting to be healed, restored, released.

Their restoration consists of many components–including education–which so few of them had access to before.

round The path that leads to the Round Home and therapy treehouse

Take a look at Amanda’s story:

Amanda’s past of exploitation began at age eight… trafficked through various cities, sold on the streets and even on the Internet, she was rescued at age 14. Eventually she came into Love146’s care–with her she brought a deep desire to learn.

The Round Home staff lost no time putting in a home study program that would allow Amanda to learn at her own pace. After just one year, she passed exams that allowed her to skip high school and go on to college.

During college, Love146 supported Amanda with private tutoring. She finished courses and passed qualifying exams to become a professional caregiver — able to work in hospitals, schools and other facilities with children, adults, and the elderly.

Amanda shared this about her experience:

“The Round Home is full of people who love and support us… They believe that we can reach our goals…They give us strength to stand up and continue our journey.”

Round Home Library Check out some of the new books for the Round Home Library–so fun!!

Over the past two weeks Steve and I have been busy placing orders at nearby bookstores from the master list I created of Filipino and English titles. As books come in, we’ve picked them up and stored them in our apartment (where our kids have enjoyed breaking them in!).

In a few days all these books will make their way to the Round Home…and it will be time for our family to make our way back to our home. Through long days and many flights, we’ll cover thousands of miles on our return journey to Connecticut.

And when I look back on our time here, I’ll remember the lessons I learned about courage, optimism, hope, and freedom.

Helen Keller–and the girls in the Round Home–have been my teachers.



Look, look, look–we are so close to paying for an entire year of education for the girls who live in the Round Home under Love146’s care! Not only have many of you given generously, but because so many of you bought the Homeschool Omnibus last week Steve and I were able to contribute $800 more!

That means as a community we only need to bring in $1,180 this week to fully fund the girls’ education for the whole year–it will only take several small donations to get us there!

If the cause of modern-day child slavery and freedom tugs at your heart, would you consider giving? It will make a real difference to Ariel, Cecily, Claudia, Emilia, Gabriele, Nancy, Jinny, Sonya, Camila–and those who come to the Round Home for restoration in the future.

Find out more details, watch a short video about the Round Home, and make your donation! Thank you for opening your heart to these girls and to our family’s life work this month.

“There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark.”
~ Helen Keller

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. I can remember watching “The Miracle Worker” as a child and being fascinated by her story as well.

  2. Oh, Jamie. This is all so beautiful. What amazing work the Round House is doing, being the hands these girls need.

    I read several Helen Keller books as a girl but didn’t read her autobiography until I was an adult. What an amazing woman! So glad Annie and Helen is on your recommended list. Deborah Hopkinson is a talent. Another I can recommend I read at my sister’s house a few years ago: Helen Keller: Her Life in Pictures by George Sullivan.
    Caroline Starr Rose’s latest post: Writing Links

  3. wow you were here in the Philippines?

    Thanks for sharing this with us. We need to know and support the Round Home.
    Christine Amador’s latest post: Gentle Reminder About Life

  4. I remember reading about Hellen Keller as a child and being fascinated and inspired by her story as as well. So cute that Jonathan became so enthusiastic about learning all about her. Your kids are all so sweet and beautiful. This was a very lovely post, thanks for sharing. It was wonderful to read about one of the girls becoming a professional caregiver. Sally’s niece went to school to be professional caregiver for two semesters, and then decided it was too hard and returned to the provinces. It is a great accomplishment, and I can imagine how proud everyone is or her!

  5. I was always amazed at Helen Kellers perseverance as a kid. The most amazing thing really about her whole story is how she had Annie Sullivan thought her life. How many people with severe disabilities can count on that one person to lead them through their darkness. How selfless.

  6. What an inspiration you, your family and Love146 are! Last year I met a group of adult survivors of trafficking – in connection with Love146 – in the UK, whilst helping out on an english course. They were such a fun group of people and broke all the stereotypes many people have about victims of trafficking. Keep up the good work, you’re doing a fantastic job and those books look like a fantastic collection!
    Jessica’s latest post: Weekend Reads #3

  7. Chiming in. In addition to her autobiographies, I recently read and highly recommend “Helen Keller: A Life.”

  8. Hi, Jamie —
    So glad to find your blog! I’m a Peace Corps Response volunteer working at an organization for deaf preschoolers and adolescents in Negros Occidental. Was trying to find a biography of Helen Keller (at maybe a Jr. High level ?) from some Philippine source and stumbled onto your site. Would love to know which bookstores in Manila stock the kind of books you (we) are looking for! Very little Tagalog here, and the Deaf learn American sign language, so I’m looking for English titles. Have a friend in Manila who might be able to check the stores and send books down here by PC pouch. Anyway, your suggestions would be welcome! Thanks so much, and many good wishes for your work with girls at the Round Home ~

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