As a non-profit, non-government organization; Volunteer for the Visayans does not distribute surplus funds to shareholders; as a result Volunteer for the Visayans is not owned by anyone. Instead Volunteer for the Visayans is governed by a close working relationship between it’s Board of Trustees, Founder and staff. Listed below is information on important people who have helped shape the organization into what it is today.
Troy Peden founded VFV in 1994, known formerly as Building Hope. The project took its current form in 2004 when it was registered locally as Volunteer for the Visayans (VFV). VFV has been funded over the years in part by the GoAbroad Foundation a non-profit arm of Troy’s company GoAbroad.com. Troy has a graduate degree from the University of Colorado in International Studies and was drawn originally to the Philippines as a volunteer. “I was intrigued by the colonial Spanish influence and the Asian cultural heritage. Every volunteer experiences the amazing hospitality of the Philippines as well as the diverse cultural influences. The needs are as overwhelming as they were 20 years ago, VFV does an incredible job alleviating those needs in the Visayan Islands.” The model of fiscal sustainability through volunteers and donations, the community buy in and cultural sustainability via the community centers and the emphasis on children, health and education has developed into a unique model of NGO sustainability which has been reintroduced in many NGOs around the world.
Cielo Sembrero – Cielo studied Political Science in Cebu City, Philippines. A mother of two lovely kids, she loves to cook, read, and garden. Passionate about giving back to her community, Cielo participates in volunteer activities whenever she is able. She has a special place in her heart for volunteering that involves children.
Board Vice President
Elsa Thomasma-Alingasa – Elsa began her relationship with VFV during a summer break from studying Psychology and Sociology at Grand Valley State University in the U.S. She returned to VFV multiple times and devoted herself to fundraising for specific project needs. In 2013, after spending a year fundraising to construct VFV’s third community center in the rural village of Cangumbang, Elsa returned to work as an NGO Intern with VFV. She worked hand-in-hand with the VFV staff, government officials, and local community in order to manage the construction of the center. Since the center’s completion, Elsa lives in Tacloban full time and avidly supports the Cangumbang Community Center, developing programs and advocating for the community locally and internationally. Elsa also assists VFV with external communication with donors and sponsors, as well as with special projects.
Jefanyl Alura graduated in 2004 with a degree in accounting from St. Paul’s Business School before qualifying as a certified public accountant in 2005. Jefanyl currently holds the position of Finance and Accounting Director for GoAbroad.com and has held previous positions as an Assistant Manager at a major accounting and auditing firm. As Board Treasurer for Volunteer for the Visayans, Jefanyl is responsible for consulting on all major financial decisions at VFV. In her years at GoAbroad Jefanyl has devoted many hours of her own personal time to help VFV achieve clear and transparent finances. Today Jefanyl is a keen advocate of VFV and volunteers her own time on activities such as tree-planting and coordinating activities with the children on VFV’s Child Sponsorship Program. Jefanyl lives in Tacloban with her husband and four children.
Richard Gamez Dico – Richard grew up in Tabontabon, Leyte, Philippines. He graduated from Eastern Visayas State University with a degree in Industrial Education. An active community member, Richard has worked as a baranagay official in his hometown and also served as a volunteer coordinator for VFV for 6 months. Still very much committed to VFV’s mission, he is now a secondary education teacher.