What's happening with CERV and its volunteers.
CERV's community library opens
CERV opened its long-awaited community library in Romblon Province in February. Both children and adults immediately flocked to the library to read and borrow books from morning until night, even on weekends. They also attended the Christian blessing of the three-level building and the party that further enlivened the event.
The Mobile Library Project was simultaneously launched during the event. A small van will bring books directly to children and adults in communities and schools around the program area. The mobile library van is equipped with its own bookshelves while another van transports groups of children who wish to visit the library.
Volunteers participated in the construction of the three-storey building through GVN’s School Building Construction and Repair Program in the Philippines. Many of its books have also been donated by GVN volunteers. #
A volunteering story - Experience the richness of the Philippines
I fell in love with my host family and of course the children I worked with.
I tutored a few special needs kids in the morning then helped out with the afternoon class after lunch. There are between 40 and 50 preschoolers aged between 3 and 6 however our eldest student was 9, her mother abandoned her so she has only just started going to school.
The children didn't have much in terms of pencils and books and the teacher didn't have any spare pencils to give out. One weekend when we went to Romblon Island we brought back lots of stationary and books to give out. Also a handful of children go to school each day with nothing to eat for recess so I started bringing food for them each day.
Mam Tess, would cook breakfast for some of the students each morning that had to walk the hour journey over the mountain to get to school each day. My host family are such caring, generous people, I will definitely be returning to the Philippines to visit them.
Things are great on the island, everyone knows you and wants to say hello, wherever we would walk there would be a flock of children following us. A few of the little girls I taught lived near me so they would wait for me after school to hold my hand and walk home together, that was my favourite part of the day.
They may live in ‘poor' houses and have little money but they are living richer lives than most people I know." #
It changed me
(by Hilda Reinauer-Stark/ USA/January 2010)
"All I can say is that volunteering in a developing or 3rd world country is so rewarding for me. People thank us all time for doing this, but I really do think the volunteer gets more out of it.
My husband (James) and I have been very fortunate, we enjoy good health, are able to travel and love, and are always willing to observe and learn about people and their cultures. The fact that we can help in some way to make someone happy or make their day easier, put a smile on a child's face is reward enough.
I encourage people to volunteer, Panama, Vietnam, Philippines, Africa it does not matter, wherever you choose to go, you will be needed.
It changed me, in many ways, it opened my eyes, made me thankful for the life I have. I want to continue doing this for as long as I am able." #
It's all over :(
I have now completed my time volunteering in the Philippines. Unfortunately, we were unable to complete the cabinet for the library while I was there. But CERV is completing the work as we speak. The day care center and surrounding community will have a library complete with many textbooks in the very near future!!
I am very sad that my work is now complete. I've been thinking about how best to describe the experience and am at a loss for words. I feel that this is certainly one of the very best things I have done with my life thus far. I have seen things and learned about things which were previously unimaginable to me. I have met some truly inspiring people who have devoted their lives to making this world a better place, and to helping others in dire need. I have been touched by the amazing friendliness and hospitality of the Filipino people, as well as the beauty of this country. This experience has really affected me. #
My volunteering journey
Although it has been few obstacles that pouring my way to serve the needy community, finally I am going to start my volunteer journey this early September in Romblon Islands, Manila.
It is really a worth and new experience for me in my life to make this decision. The coordinator is really helpful and assisted me prior my volunteer project. The partner of Philippines – CERV is really good and assisted me in many ways during my period here. Besides, the host family in Romblon Islands were very kind hearted and approachable. Of course the preschool teachers are very helpful and assisted me as long as she could. I would like to take this opportunity to say a BIG thank you to you all..
The poverty in Romblon is really very low compare to other sites of Philippines like Manila. Their infrastructure are very few and their living style very simple. Although the poor family, they are all happy living together with strong bonding with family and friends.
Preschool facilities in Romblon is very limited and some of the kids do not have enough money to buy their stationery and uniforms. I am happy I can contribute some of the reading and learning materials to them. I wish other volunteers and public will help them by supporting CERV in this programme.
This journey is undoubtedly will become my sweet memories in my ordinary life and hope I can have chance again to volunteer in future. #
First get their attention, then keep it
You must be creative when doing volunteer work. Each day I must come up with an idea that will teach the kids but first I need their attention and to keep that attention for the entire class. Thanks for all the assistance I get from the other volunteers who come into the classroom willing and able to work.
Yesterday afternoon we got a surprise. While our classes have gained a student or two over the weeks I’ve been teaching, yesterday afternoon was the biggest gain. It’s usually just the 4th graders (slow kids) but to our wonderment there sat also the 5th graders (who returned after lunch) and they simply sat themselves down at a table (some with books in their hands) and was waiting for us. So, we increased from 9 to 16 students. These are the kids the teachers had trouble with keeping them in school. Some miss as many days as the ones they attended.
I’m not blaming the regular teachers. Wow, their job is difficult. They have as many as 50 kids in a class. I don’t know how they do it for five days a week. I would have to change professions or I would be in a straight jacket (lol)
The walk to school is so beautiful. There are rice paddies on each side (terraces with some more green then others), flowers next to the road, rice drying on one side of the road and as you look up the mountains you see coconut trees as well as other green trees. It’s absolutely beautiful and I love the walk there. It doesn’t get more beautiful then this. Once you enter the gates of the school there are gardens of veggies and herbs. The walk here and the school grounds will be the lasting picture in my head of the Philippines.
Yesterday we made reservations to go away for a week over the Christmas holidays. We (Evan and myself) will travel to Boracay (another island) and spend from Dec 16th to the 23rd taking in some of the beautiful sun, basking in the sun on the beach and whatever else it holds for us. I’m looking forward to the restaurants I hear they have some good ones. Of course I’ll miss the foods here at Mama Tess’ house. Felix (her husband) is an excellent cook and I’ve tasted some things I’ve never tasted before and I still have no idea what I’ve eaten!
If I don’t get to write in this journal before Christmas, I want to take this time to wish you all a great holiday (no matter what religion or non-religion you are). It’s a time when many people get together so enjoy all, don’t eat to much and remember to share. Share with those who have less and you’ll eventually have more.
Love to all my family, friends and even those who take the time to read my journal. Maybe I’ve inspired you enough to take that first step to volunteering somewhere in this world. You get a good education cause you too will learn something. I do every day here! #
CERV spearheads humanitarian project
The response was quick and positive. CERV decided to increase its target to three sacks of grain and at least two water pumps.
Canadian law student and National Union of People’s Lawyers volunteer Emily Misola Richards was first to pitch in.
Former CERV volunteer and Meaningful Volunteer founder Malcolm Trevena proposed a CERV-MV hook-up on this project. CERV readily agreed, making it the first joint humanitarian fundraising project ever. MV took care of two-thirds of the amount needed initially.
GVN Foundation kindly agreed to make an emergency release of the funds it keeps for CERV health and children’s welfare projects to help in the project.
Former CERV volunteers Richard Kastenschmidt and Andrew Roquiz of the USA and Leighton Wood (Canada) came through with cash donations.
The project then had more money than it initially needed.
CERV then asked Wilfredo Marbella, deputy secretary general of the Peasant Movement of the Philippines, to look for the right kind of rice grains. He delivered three sacks within three days.
Above are some pictures of the actual handover. Within three days of the handover, the first pump was already offering clean and potable water to the community. The community is happy with the three sacks of grain as they were only expecting one. They now await the next planting season even as they start clearing their traditional planting areas on mountainsides. #
The things that happen in life are not as important as what we do with time given us
I had no idea that I would be doing something like this or going to a place like this. Not in a million years. I feel very honored and blessed to have had this opportunity. It may not have seemed like a smart decision to some of my friends or family members, and to be honest it wasn't a very smart decision, but it was the right one. I may not be financially stable and I may not have a complete education, but that doesn't change the fact that I've had an amazing experience. I know some people will say “It doesn't matter what your doing there, you need to think about your future.”.
I say “The things or events that happen in our life are not nearly as important as what we do with the time that is given to us.” God provided me with the perfect amount of time, with (almost) the perfect amount of money, and with the perfectly abundantly overflowing amount of prayer and support.
I do not doubt for one second that this trip was a mistake.
Okay, so for the last month and a half, I have been busy teaching computer class, painting signs, painting benches, and cleaning up the shoreline in front of the mangroves.
Computer Class: ... I really do enjoy teaching the kids about computers and how to use them. Yes computers can be bad when someone gets addicted to games or Facebook, but they also have very useful applications, such as typing papers, creating documents, presentations, and as I know on a professional level (:)) they are great for expanding one's knowledge and joy they may get from producing, editing, and presenting Movies!
I'm finally having the kids complete a project for me, and go figure, for their first project I'm having them make me a movie/presentation. I recently took a week off to give the kids a break, and myself. During my “break” is when I tried coming up with a lesson plan. I have to give teachers credit, because I use to think being a teacher was one of the easiest jobs ever, but boy was I wrong.
Painting: Just out in front of the building I teach in at Paaralang Elemntarya Ng Sugod (Sugod Elementary School) there are several benches. Paul and I both decided they could use some color, and now they are all finished. We painted a different flag on each of them, representing the different countries that the volunteers have come from, including; The U.S., The U.K., Norway, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
Mangroves: The Mangrove project is coming along very nicely. We have between 600 and 700 planted along the shore just north of Sugod, near a place called Baliw. The last few weeks though I haven't had any help, so planting has been put on hold for the time being, and when I do get a chance to visit, I mostly pick up garbage and clean the already planted mangroves. We still have several thousand to plant. Thankfully some of the community members have joined in to help us plant in other locations scattered along the whole bay.
In March, I am planning on reading up on proper techniques and teaching Mangrove Plantation and Care classes at the Elementary school in Sugod, and the High School and Elementary School in Long Beach. It is very important that the community knows exactly how to plant and watch over these trees, because without them they will lose more than just some pretty looking trees. Unfortunately the students do not currently have a class to teach them about how the trees contribute to their livelihood, or how to properly maintain a healthy mangrove sanctuary.
So that is what has been happening with the work side of my adventure. As for my off time there are several other stories to tell. #
Philippine volunteer week --redux
The saplings that we nurtured last year, a few thousands of them were along the highway and for two days we supported some saplings where needed and watered them. The heat was the highest in Manila of the summer and we just landed from the cool of HK (and heard that part of HK island were at 5 degree centigrade while we were melting). This time I confirmed it to my utter disbelief that I just cannot do hard work that I could a decade ago. So much for a comfortable lifestyle that is too disturbing for comfort of mind. Raymund took us away from the gruel for a day and we participated in the 100th year rally of Women's Day on 8th March and then a small trip of Old Manila city. It was a good detour!
However, my heart was completely at the tree nursery in Montalban, Rizal. Raymund was kind enough to take us to do the usual work at the nursery for the next two days. It was quite nostalgic to be back among the saplings. The hut looks all new and green, the nursery is full with saplings and looks quite green. The 'holes are fun' are still hold the supporting bamboos for the shade and I caught a beautiful spider with its net on my camera. And not to mention the wonderful tender coconuts. I had to open one for the nostalgia sake and to prove to myself that I can still do it. Makes me feel better! The hammock is shifted to a place in front of the hut and BTW I also bought one for me :-).
This time we had a trip to local market and it is a very interesting place. A good spot for many photographs. Lot of fruits and other things. It was fun.
Thanks to Pom and others who provided good food as usual. They tolerated us through our stay and rants. I had thought that I would shed some 'tyres' but it only inflated more. I cannot blame the heat though. I love to stay at this dorm. It is quite homely, always open and lot of space.
We also played cards but this time it was restricted to only two nights and never in the hall. People were too alert and the 'g-bows' or 'Hi Queen' never happened. Some even studied! :-(.
As usual Raymund does not stop inspiring and Laure is already planning next year's PW to Romblon for working with mangroves and painting classrooms and benches. That is the real success of going at 'CERV-Philippines' to Raymund.
What more can I ask from Raymund? He was helping me as usual. This time in finding a place for the IFP conference in Manila. That may be the place for future conferences if not this year.
So, I'm now completely looking forward to go to Romblon next year. I can only wish that it was next week.
Donations to CERV Phillipines are more than welcome. Their immediate need is to buy a vehicle to carry water tanker.
Raymund is still buying lottery tickets so he can call you guys to paint his new house sometimes when he's lucky. We should do it as a group sometimes within the next 10 yrs! Hopefully it'll be earlier. #
Magan Savant is a Physics teacher at Li Po Chun-United Word College in Hongkong, SAR. He has led two student volunteer groups since last year.
CERV distributes school supplies
As the new Philippine academic year opened last month Claudine and Loren as well as 28 other school kids received new uniforms, shoes, bags and school supplies from former volunteer Kathryn Nicholas (New Zealand). Kathryn and family are sponsoring 30 children on their schooling (read related story below).
But several members of the original list of 30 have dropped out of school due to extreme poverty. Kathryn and CERV then decided to look for other kids from impoverished families to sponsor.
According to the National Statistic Office of the Philippines, four out of ten Filipino children do not finish elementary school due to poverty and inaccessibility of public schools in poor areas of the country.
CERV accepts teaching volunteers to assist public school teachers and contribute to the education of 45 million school-age children.
It also accepts donations through these links:
http://www.gvnfoundation.org/programs/projects/philippines/ (tax-deductible in the United States) and
or email CERV directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sponsored child wins "Best Pupil" award
The girl just made it all worthwhile for her benefactor.
Bechay finishes the current school year at the top of her class. She was awarded a certificate and a gold medal for being the “Best Pupil” in her class. She is a grade four pupil of Camarin Elementary, a public school in Caloocan City-North. In June of this year, she enters as an intermediate Grade 5 student in the same school.
Bechay is just one of the several bright Filipino students who are being supported by former CERV volunteers in Iloilo, Romblon and Manila.
If you are interested in helping poor but deserving students in their education, contact us at email@example.com or visit http://www.gvnfoundation.org/programs/projects/philippines/.
One hot summer for UChi grad students
CERV registered its biggest batch of volunteers with 28 MBA students from University of Chicago—Booth School of Business who practically rebuilt Area V Yakap Day Care Center in Barrio Commonwealth in Quezon City last March 21 and 22.
America’s future managers proved they could tackle backbreaking manual labor as they climbed roofs and crawled on all fours to get the job done. What was once a run down school was given a new roof, ceiling, fans, paint job, fence, wash basins, plant boxes and school supplies.
The structure services 80 students everyday. On weekdays and holidays, it also serves as a community health clinic, a community center, a feeding area and other purposes. With repairs and enhancements expected to extend its serviceable life to another ten years, hundreds of children and thousands of poor residents are expected to benefit from the Illinois students’ gift.
In Romblon, a state college school building was totally rehabilitated by a succession of CERV volunteers. Romblon State College is one of the poorest public colleges in an already poor country. It wasn’t surprising that it hardly had money to spend on periodic paint jobs.
But thanks to Maria Cecilla Pereira (Brazil), Dagmar Gaber (Germany), Chelsea Tu (USA), Amber Marcinkoski (Canada), Lucas Frenz (Germany), Vittoria Offeddu (Italy), and Andrew Weiss (USA), the students would be greeted with a new painted school building with a new roof to boot.
It has been a hot summer in the Philippines the past months, but it was equalled by the warm feelings the volunteers get after completing a job meant to help communities in need.
Volunteer with and/or donate to CERV-Philippines for life-enriching programs and projects. Send us a mail through firstname.lastname@example.org
Children reaching out
4-H in the United States is a youth organization administered by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) with the mission of "engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development." The four "H"s stand for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. The organization serves over 6.5 million members in the United States from ages 5 to 19 in approximately 90,000 clubs. 4-H clubs and related organizations now exist in many other countries as well; the organization and administration varies from country to country.
The goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, and life skills of youth through mostly experiential learning programs. Though typically thought of as an agriculturally focused organization as a result of its history, 4-H today focuses on citizenship, healthy living, and science, engineering and technology programs.
The Maple Shade Chapter of 4-H decided to make Busilak Day Care Center in Quezon City one of its beneficiaries after hearing a presentation made by former CERV volunteer Richard Kastenschmidt.
Richard is back for a short time in the Philippines, his third in as many years, to visit his beneficiary schools in Quezon City, Philippines. As a volunteer in January 2007, Richard built cabinets to house multi-media equipment and installed exhaust fans in two day care centers.
In Christmas 2007, Richard and wife Renee decided to forego giving each other gifts to save up for regular annual donations to CERV programs. In January 2008, Richard visited the Philippines for the second time to make the donations personally, in addition to buying Busilak Day Care Center’s first desktop computer.
This year, Richard donated a laptop computer to be used as a teaching aid to day care, elementary and high school students in poor communities around Metro Manila. He also donated a mobile internet device to make it easier for the students to conduct research on the internet for school projects and assignments. He and Renee also made a “Christmas Gift” donation for the second straight year.
Richard saw and was impressed by the great accomplishments of the community organizations that operate Busilak. From a door and window-less shed of rough concrete, the center is now housed in a three-storey building. The first floor serves as the classroom; the second floor shall serve as a library and health clinic; and the third floor shall be a small activity center. This small building is the same structure painted by Australian engineer Scott Dennis.
Richard is a retired teacher while Renee is still teaching. Aside from their shared passion for motorcycling, they also share in the deep gratitude of many children beneficiaries in poor communities in the Philippines. # (Photo above shows Richard Kastenschmidt hard at work.)
Vanvan: “I can see!”
Leaving the Philippines
But, leaving the Philippines is even harder!
One of volunteers had to leave early due to health reasons. His volunteer buddy sent him the following letter to let him know what he missed.
Be sure to check out Alan's photos of the farewell ceremony.
(and, yes. Both Alan and Peter are cool with us publishing this letter!)
I was sorry to hear about your early departure and hope that it's working out well for you.
Well, there certainly were some "Honours" to do…!
We started at Gold Day Care Centre at 10:00am with an eager class full of children and parents with an hour wait for dignitaries from City Hall to arrive. This in itself was quite an event as it's not often that officials from the Social Services Department (it's not the Education Dept that runs day care) come visiting. So the hour long wait was spent being entertained by the children dancing and otherwise showing amazing patience.
So this honoured guest sat around inside while poor Vincent finished off the last of the outside wall on his own
At 11:00 the VIPs arrived and we were presented with framed certificates from the school parents, and another certificate from the Social Services Department . I was also presented with a lovely leaving scroll signed by all of the Parents. Raymund accepted the certificates on your behalf. Then to my horror I was given the microphone – but it was for a few words, not Karaoke..! Then more dancing entertainment from the children until the VIPs had to leave to visit another school nearby.
A dancing free-for-all ensued with most parents and students, from which there was no escape. A slap-up feast followed – two shifts, first for the adults then children, followed by a walk to the Pinadama Day Care Centre.
Here we started with some time-filling dancing before the children each lined up at the door to bring in a large cardboard letter to be stuck onto the blackboard. They slowly spelled out "THANK YOU SIR PETER & ALAN" a lovely gesture.
Next we sat in the guest of honour seats under the blackboard and listened to a traditional Farewell Song followed by two lovely dances, the first in traditional style, the other more modern. Some speeches, then lunch again. The hospitality and heartfelt gratitude was almost overwhelming.
I waited a while before sending this to you so that I could first get some photos up on the web. They are at www.flickr.com/photos/alanfry/sets
I hope you enjoy them as I'm sure they'll bring back the same warm memories for you as they do for me.
With best wishes