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From the Field

Helping the youth shine

Jaylito plans to 'make a difference'

Original VFV Boys Club member, Jaylito Gapate is a rising star in his Bliss community and he says he owes it all to his relationship with VFV.

The 24-year-old is realising his passion for building stronger communities now that he is a fully-fledged member of the VFV team.

“It felt very good to be an official employee at VFV — it was easy because I already knew everybody.”

“It is also a relief that I can help to support my family.”

When the VFV centre opened in Bliss in 2005, Jaylito signed up for VFV’s first Boys Club. Boys Club is a community project aimed at steering local boys away from drugs, crime and gang warfare with weekly activities that encourage leadership and responsibility.

“It was a lot of fun — there were about 25 of us and we were all from the same barangay,” recalled Jaylito.

“It was great to travel outside of the barangay and experience new people and places.

“It’s an important project because it helps to shape the local boys into people who are active in and care for their community.”

Seeing promise in Jaylito, VFV Director Helena Claire Canayong nominated him for VFV’s Sponsor A Scholar program — which teams up disadvantaged youths with foreign sponsors for the duration of their college diploma.

Jaylito graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Technology and soon after he was approached with a VFV job offer.

Jaylito relishes the chance to help disadvantaged youths reach their full potential — as VFV did with him.

“I really enjoy the work we do helping communities in need,” said Jaylito.

“I especially like the impact VFV has on a child’s life — our work gives children the opportunity to have a brighter future.”

Would you like to give disadvantaged youths, like Jaylito, the chance to go to college? Click here to find out more about VFV’s Sponsor A Scholar Project!


Posted in Child Welfare, Education, News, Volunteer Abroad in the Philippines, Volunteer Program | Leave a comment

Bright future for former dumpsite kid

Future teacher, Lindie Ortillo

Sponsored child, Lindie Ortillo is a determined young lady who lets nothing stand in the way of her dream to become a teacher.

Against the odds Lindie is pursuing that dream at Eastern Visayas State University in Tacloban thanks to the VFV Dumpsite Project.

The VFV Dumpsite Project takes children away from the dangerous life of scavenging plastics and recyclables at the city dump by connecting them with a sponsor who provides food subsidies, clothing, school supplies and weekly meals.

Unwilling to let the struggle of poverty stop her from going to school, Lindie was scavenging every Saturday and Sunday from 7am until 5pm when she met VFV.

“I would be at the dump every weekend without fail,” explained the 17-year-old.

“Otherwise there was no money for the fare to get to school, or for lunch or projects.”

VFV connected Lindie with a sponsor four years ago putting an end to her time hunting through piles of toxic rubbish, avoiding rusted nails and syringes, to earn less than a dollar.

“I am so thankful not to have to go there anymore — it was so very hot and there was no shelter from the sun or rain,” said Lindie.

“I was so tired and haggard.”

Now Lindie can spend her weekends concentrating on her course work and resting after her exhausting daily journey to school. Lindie rises at 5am and makes her way, barefoot, down a long, steep and muddy path and through a river before she reaches the main road, puts on her shoes and waits up to an hour for the jeepney that will take her to university.

Lindie’s tenacity comes from a passion to teach and a drive to help her family build a better future.

“My father and two younger brothers still walk an hour every day to scavenge at the dump site,” she said.

“I feel pity for my brothers who are only 9 and 11-years-old.

“I want to get a good job teaching so that I can share my knowledge but also so that I can help support my family.”

Want to help pull more children out of this grim existence? Click here to find out how you can get involved in the Dumpsite Project!

*Written by volunteer Emma Bailie, journalist from Australia


Posted in Child Sponsorship, Child Welfare, Dumpsite Project, News, Volunteer Abroad in the Philippines, Volunteer Program | Leave a comment

Rural school goes from strength to strength

Sir Jonah and his class

Mahon Elementary School has become one of the most desirable schools in Leyte thanks to a strong relationship with VFV.

The Tanauan school, about 45 minutes from Tacloban, was the recipient of VFV’s Adopt-A-School Project — delivering much-needed school supplies to underfunded rural schools — for five years.

The children at Mahon Elementary also benefit from the presence of VFV volunteer teachers.

“The volunteers help pupils a lot academically — their English is also strengthened as they learn correct pronunciation from listening to them,” said senior teacher Artemia Castillo who has taught at the school for 22 years.

“The volunteers have also donated resources; they donated materials especially after the typhoon.”

Typhoon Yolanda devastated the community killing 27 of Mahon Elementary’s pupils and leaving the surviving students severely traumatised.

Sir Michael and his fourth grade pupils

US volunteer Jonah Konop, who is teaching fifth grade at the school, said his time at the blackboard is shaping him as much as his pupils.

“I am a teacher but I am the one that is learning,” said the 18-year-old.

“I am learning what it is like to work in a community that is rebuilding after what felt like the apocalypse to them.

“I have a little girl who lost both her parents in the typhoon and yet she still comes to school to learn.”

Norwegian volunteer, Michael Stocker is teaching fourth grade for seven weeks. He too is impressed with his students’ resilience.

“This school was hit pretty hard; the students lost a lot of their friends,” he said.

Sir Jonah proving teachers can flip it as expertly as the kids

“My class is so polite and friendly and eager to learn — if I had a fourth grade class back in Norway it would be chaotic.”

Despite the heartache Yolanda brought to Mahon Elementary, the school’s reputation continues to grow.

“I asked a little girl, who moved from Manila to Tacloban, why she enrolled at Mahon,” said Jonah.

“She said it is the most put together school in Leyte.”

Would you like spend time helping children in underfunded schools? Click here to learn more about volunteering with VFV!

*Written by volunteer Emma Bailie, journalist from Australia


Posted in Education, News, Volunteer Abroad in the Philippines, Volunteer Program | Leave a comment
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