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From the Field

Farewell to Leoma


Leoma with some of the children

Staff and volunteers bid farewell to one of Volunteer for the Visayans (VFV) longest serving employees this month.

Lead sponsorship co-ordinator Leoma B Godinez has been responsible for overseeing the welfare of the 155 children sponsored through VFV for almost five years.

Leoma said: “The kids are the reason I have stayed here so long. It is going to be hard to leave them. We’ve done so many activities, it has really bonded us.”

Leoma is responsible for everything regarding the welfare of the kids, along with dealing with all the administration work in her department and she has also represented VFV at government meetings.

She said: “It has been very challenging as I’m the only social worker managing all the kids, with the help of an assistant.”

Leoma creates profiles for all the children through interviewing them and assessing their needs. She conducts house visits and also deals with walk-in clients.

She said: “The main problem when I started was children not attending school.

“The main scenario is that they are the oldest children and they are given responsibility to look after younger siblings.”
However after meeting with families and educating them about the importance of attendance, now all sponsored children are attending school.

More recently her main challenge has been helping families to get back on track after the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan. “Some clients are still struggling to get back to normal especially in far flung areas. My role is to support them as much as I can.”

She is most proud of having established a college scholarship programme during her time at VFV.

In 2012 three children receives scholarships, in 2013 there were 12 and this year 26 children are benefitting from the scheme.

“I encourage the sponsors who have supported the children through school to extend their support to college as this will give them a more promising future,” she said.

Leoma is leaving VFV to take on a lead role in an anti-poverty programme in the government. “This will not just focus on the kids it is also dealing with the community too so is a bigger responsibility.”

*Written by volunteer Michelle Curran, journalist and editor from the UK

Posted in Child Sponsorship, Child Welfare, Education, News, Social Work, Uncategorized, Volunteer Program | Leave a comment

Typhoon-damaged school set to be rebuilt

Typhoon damaged Cangumbang Primary School

Rebuilding typhoon-damaged Cangumbang Primary School is set to begin shortly.

Builders at the site have almost completed erecting temporary classrooms where the school’s 117 pupils will be housed while reconstruction of the main building takes place.
The workmen say they hope to complete the temporary classrooms, which have been funded by UNICEF, within the next week.
Students will be taught in the makeshift classrooms for around two to three months while work takes place on the main school building to restore it to its former glory.
The cost of rebuilding the school is being paid for by the South Korean Government.
The roof was ripped off the building and the three classrooms on the first floor were gutted. The school hall which is located on the ground floor is where pupils have currently been taught.
Teacher Harold M. Chiquillo said: “This was once a beautiful building and it got destroyed (by the typhoon) in just four hours. We were beyond saddened. But still we are lucky to be alive.”

The temporary kindergarten classroom at Cangumbang Primary School

After Typhoon Yolanda the school could not operate for two months as it was used as an evacuation centre to house families whose homes were destroyed by the deadly storm.
Once the refurbished school is opened the temporary classrooms will be transformed into a canteen.

*Written by volunteer Michelle Curran, journalist and editor from the UK

Posted in Build-A-School, Child Welfare, Disaster Relief, Donate, Education, News, Uncategorized, Volunteer Abroad in the Philippines | Leave a comment

Hosting the helpers

Nanay Virgie

Whether volunteers are getting their fill of food during their stay in Tacloban is the biggest concern of their host families, says host mother Nanay Virgie.

Nanay Virgie has been hosting volunteers since 2005. She has had 100 helpers from across the globe stay at her home in Bliss and some of them love it so much they have been back to stay with her up to five times.

“My biggest concern when I first started being a host was what food to serve them,” she said. “I asked VFV and they told me to prepare whatever Filipino food I normally serve and the volunteers will adapt to the culture.

“Sometimes volunteers are picky about what they eat but little by little I adjust. I will also make some things they are familiar with in their home country.”

For example, Nanay Virgie will serve up pancakes and French toast for breakfasts along with trying out more traditional Filipino dishes like Ibus on her guests. All volunteers with VFV stay in the Bliss community with a family and have their breakfast and dinner provided to them each day by their host family.

“There are 17 host mothers now and we will get together and talk about whether our volunteers are eating. It’s a big concern for us,” she said.

The majority of her volunteers have been from Canada, the US or UK. She said that generally she has no problems with her guests however one Canadian volunteer sticks firmly in her mind as he enjoyed a few too many beers and she found him vomiting outside her home. “There are no problems with the girls if they drink but the boys sometimes have too much,” she said smiling.

Nanay Virgie, who has five children of her own and 14 grandchildren, said she loves opening up her home to guests. “I enjoy meeting different kinds of volunteers and enjoy speaking English with them and improving my English. When I first started hosting I was shy to speak English but it has improved,” she said.

She also likes to give her volunteers a good send-off on the last night of their placement and will cook a special farewell dinner.

During Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) Nanay Virgie fled her home as the water rose and sought safety in a neighbour’s house that was more than

She had a volunteer who had been staying with her but went to Cebu for the weekend when the typhoon hit. Nanay Virgie said she was thankful that her volunteer was away as he would often lock his door and she was not sure he would have woken up even if she had been banging hard on the door.

Although Nanay Virgie and her family survived the disaster, her home was flooded by the typhoon and in the aftermath of the storm she was unable to accommodate volunteers in her home for six weeks as she and her family worked to clean up the mud and debris and make it liveable again.

She received her first volunteer after the typhoon on Christmas Day however electricity to her property was not restored until April.

During the blackout period torches, solar lights and candles were used in her home. “It was quite an experience for the volunteers. Always using torches and candles,” she said.

And so does she have a favourite volunteer? “I have no favourite because all my volunteers are so kind and beautiful.”

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer visit http://www.visayans.org/volunteer

*Written by volunteer Michelle Curran, journalist and editor from the UK

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