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From the Field

Volunteers give local communities food for thought

VFV local volunteer Merynie and UK volunteer Lizzie serve lunch to the children of Mahayahay

Two recently completed VFV feeding programs have boosted the health of 86 children and given local mothers a better understanding of how to keep their families healthy.

The supplementary feeding programs which ran in Bliss for six months and Mahayahay for seven months were part of VFV’s groundbreaking Nutrition Project.

VFV locates the villages with the highest number of undernourished children and after a research and screening process compiles a list of the most high-risk children. Volunteers who have expertise in dietetics plan and cook a daily nutritious meal for the children. The children are weighed and measured fortnightly to check their progress.

The children of Bliss sit down to their daily nutritious meal

“Knowing these children are going to receive a well-balanced, nutritious meal at least once a day is very rewarding,” said UK volunteer and dietician, Lizzie Schofield.

VFV Assistant Community Program Coordinator John Balanlay said the project provides more than just full bellies.

“The mothers learn about health and nutrition and how to apply it to their daily lives in the preparation and cooking of food,” said John.

“They can use what they learn to create their own recipes or add a healthy twist to dishes within their budget.”

Volunteers and locals prepare the children's meal together

The volunteers informally educate the children about nutrition while the meal is prepared.

“When they are helping me cook I try to talk to them about healthy eating — sugars, salts and fats,” said Lizzie.

“They respond well to it; they really take it on board.”

“They are very inquisitive and ask a lot of questions so they are learning about healthy eating at the same time as learning how to cook.”

Three more nutrition projects are running in the communities of New Kawayan, Lumbang and Cangumbang — which is a permanent program subsidised by the Sponsor A Child project.

The weights and heights of Mahayahay children are recorded

You can help low-income families learn how to keep their families strong and healthy too! Click here to learn more!

*Written by volunteer Emma Bailie, journalist from Australia

 

Posted in Child Welfare, News, Nutrition Volunteers, Public Health, Uncategorized, Volunteer Abroad in the Philippines | Leave a comment

A safe new home for sponsor kid Melanie

Melanie, centre, with her brother Milo and sister Merynie

Sponsor child, Melanie Maceda can now enjoy the safety and comfort of a new house thanks to Children Incorporated (CI) and VFV’s Build-A-Home project.

Melanie and her five family members became homeless when Typhoon Yolanda flattened their neighbourhood last year.

For the last ten months they have been camping on the foundation of their Mahayahay home — sleeping side-by-side on a small concrete slab.

“My family is just so happy and we are so grateful to VFV for giving us a home,” said 16-year-old Melanie.

“It has been very difficult since the typhoon; our home has just been a tarp.

“It wasn’t a home if it was raining — it was full of holes and when it wasn’t wet it was so hot.”

US volunteer, April Dawn Sick and NZ volunteer, Robert Brown get the rebuild started

The family were eligible recipients of the VFV Build-A-Home project through Melanie’s sponsorship.

“It means a lot to me to be sponsored; I am so grateful for the support I receive every month,” said Melanie who has been a sponsor child for nine years.

“When I was in elementary I was very, very thin and had bad asthma — I am a lot healthier now and it is much easier to concentrate.

“And now we have had our home rebuilt too!”

The Macedas, who tragically lost eight of their family members in the typhoon, have hung a sign of thanks on the front of their freshly painted white and orange home.

VFV volunteers from the US, Australia and New Zealand worked on rebuilding and painting the Maceda’s new home.

The VFV Build-A-Home project has been transforming the lives of low-income Filipino families since 2005.

Since last year’s devastating typhoon left thousands of families homeless and living in tents — there has never been a greater need for projects like VFV’s Build-A-Home.

The Maceda Family

Click here to find out more about the Build-A-Home project and how you can be a part of it!

*Written by volunteer Emma Bailie, journalist from Australia

Posted in Build-A-Home, Child Sponsorship, News, Volunteer Abroad in the Philippines, Volunteer Program | Leave a comment

One Direction to Tacloban

VFV volunteer Lizzie leads the way with her One Direction selfie

VFV volunteers come to the Philippines to help communities in need but they go home having enjoyed a personal transformation too.

For UK volunteer Lizzie Schofield, the two weeks she spent working on VFV’s nutrition project: “changed my life.”

“On my way home I felt guilty that I was looking forward to a hot shower, a comfy bed and a hug from my Dad at the airport because these are things some people in Tacloban may never have,” said the 26-year-old from Leeds.

“Knowing the heartache these people have been through and yet they bravely get on with life with a smile and a cheery ‘hello’ has inspired me tremendously.”

Lizzie was so affected by her time with VFV she started a campaign to bring the local children’s favourite band, UK pop group One Direction, to Tacloban City.

“One Direction are visiting the Philippines on tour next year — they will be in Manila in March,” said Lizzie.

“My goal is to encourage the band to visit the children in Tacloban and make Yolanda seem a distant memory, even if only for a few hours.”

A selfie from Berlin, Germany

A touching moment with the local children sparked the idea for the ambitious campaign.

“My fondest memory is when the children asked me what songs I knew and if I could sing to them — the first song that came to mind was One Direction,” recalled Lizzie.

“As I started to sing the chorus of What Makes You Beautiful they all joined in and I realised they knew the words better than I did.

“One of the children was quick to pull out an old, battered Nokia phone with only a few songs on it.

“He played the song as loud as it would go and more than 20 children crowded around the tiny speakers giggling, singing and dancing with all their might.

“Watching this sent tingles down my spine and still brings a tear to my eye.”

The Facebook campaign, which has topped 1000 likes in less than two weeks, calls on people all over the world to upload a ‘selfie’ urging the band to visit Tacloban.

“If every one of these people encourages 10 people to like the page, that’s 10,000 already,” said Lizzie.

Even some pugs from Sydney, Australia are getting in on the action!

“I urge everyone who reads this to like the Facebook page One Direction to Tacloban, upload a photo, and give the band and their management a message they can’t ignore!”

Would you like to be involved in this campaign to bring a smile to the faces of Yolanda survivors? It’s easy! Click here and upload a selfie now!

*Written by volunteer Emma Bailie, journalist from Australia

 

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