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From the Field

The Nanay with over 100 children

Since becoming the first to host volunteers for VFV in January 2004, the Llanto family has experienced the globe from the comfort of their own home.

It's not hard to feel at home with a host mother as warm and welcoming as Nanay Marlyn

Living in the Bliss community, Nanay Marlyn and her family have welcomed over 100 volunteers from countries such as Canada, the United States, Holland, The Netherlands, and more.

She says one of the best things about being a host mother is “the ability to mingle with other countries, as well as practice our English.” Learning and exercising English is especially beneficial for her 8 grandchildren, some of whom also live with her.

With four children of her own, Nanay Marlyn is no stranger to the duties of being a mother. She provides breakfast and dinner; a task she says can at times be tricky. For breakfast, “a lot of the volunteers demand cornflakes and fresh milk.” As for dinner, Nanay Marlyn cooks traditional Filipino cuisine because she wants volunteers to have a good sense of her culture. She enjoys making lumpia Shanghai, pork adobo, and squash with coconut milk

Nanay Marlyn stands with one of her eight grandchildren outside of their home in Bliss

Volunteers have stayed with Nanay Marlyn for various amounts of time, ranging from a few weeks to as long as six months.

“I had a male volunteer who stayed with me for one month some time ago. He was a drunkard, and was constantly irritated by the dogs that hung around outside. They barked non-stop, and one night on his way home he became so angry, he actually hit one of them hard on the belly. I had to yell at him to stop or else the dog would have attacked him!”

This weekend she will welcome three volunteers from Australia who will stay for two weeks. It’s time, she says, to stock up on cornflakes!

Want to experience Filipino culture in depth while helping a community in need? Click here to learn more about opportunities volunteering with VFV!

*written by Courtney Cunningham, media intern from the United States.




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

At the helm of social change

Wimwim, centre, with her VFV team members

It takes one hell of a lady to command a ship that sees a crew of ten staff members and over 200 annual international volunteers work across 15 different projects aiding communities in Tacloban City as well as remote rural regions.

That woman is Helena Claire A. Canayong, fondly known as Wimwim, Director of Volunteer for the Visayans since 2013 — the year Supertyphoon Yolanda changed the Philippines forever.

“I had the most challenging year to become VFV’s Director,” recalled Canayong.

“We really did our best to make sure our communities were prepared.

“We brought food and supplies to each of VFV’s three community centres and visited each of them to make sure everybody was ready with a plan for what to do after the storm.

“We couldn’t know how severe the storm would be or that it would take five days to get the team together.”

VFV’s primary focus has always been the community’s most vulnerable members — its children. This was no different in the aftermath of Yolanda.

“We were busy dealing with our homes but we realised the children were frightened that VFV was closing because it was still full of debris,” explained Canayong.

“They were worried that when the relief period ended and they went back to their normal lives, VFV would no longer be part of the equation.

“So we made cleaning out the centre a priority and tried to do feedings downstairs to alleviate the stress on the local families while food was so scarce.”

VFV's Director, Helena Claire A. Canayong

This focus on providing a safer, healthier, happier future for disadvantaged Filipino children led to the initiation of one of VFV’s most successful welfare projects and the highlight of Canayong’s nine-year career with VFV.

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.

“Creating the Dumpsite Project—seeing former child scavengers going to college or practical arts schools—is my most memorable moment,” said Canayong.

Despite managing all aspects of VFV, from its administrative needs to monitoring and implementing various programs and projects, while still serving as a community worker and constantly battling the time vacuum of bureaucratic red tape — Canayong is halfway through a law degree at Tacloban’s DVOREF College of Law.

“I will continue in my community work but when I was younger I had dreamed of becoming a lawyer so I want to go through with it so I have no regrets later in life,” she explained.

It is this attitude that has the 35-year-old mother of two learning how to skateboard for the first time.

“When I was younger I always wanted to skateboard but my father wouldn’t let me, it was too dangerous an activity for his little girl,” she said.

“I am learning now because I don’t want to wonder about whether I could do it or not!”

Would you like to join Wimwim’s team of passionate community workers making a difference in the lives of disadvantaged Filipinos? Click here to find out more about VFV’s volunteer program!

*Written by volunteer Emma Bailie, journalist from Australia


Posted in Build-A-Home, Build-A-School, Child Sponsorship, Child Welfare, Disaster Relief, Donate, Dumpsite Project, Education, News, Public Health, Volunteer Abroad in the Philippines, Volunteer Program | Leave a comment

Fostering potential

Winston Rabi outside VFV headquarters

Winston Rabi believes a long relationship with VFV has helped shape him into the community leader he is today.

When VFV opened its doors in Bliss in 2005, Winston was one of the original Boys Club members. 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.

Winston quickly became President of the Boys Club and, under his direction; the club became a platform for fostering community connectedness amongst the male youths.

“I saw that there were smaller groups of males in the community that would quarrel and fight,” explained Winston.

“I told them that we are one group, one community together and we must not fight amongst ourselves.

“I have organised things like the basketball league to keep them active and to keep them connected with each other in a positive way.”

In 2008 Winston became Vice President of his neighborhood and relished his role as leader for the community’s youth.

“It was my job to keep them engaged in activities that are good for the community,” he said.

“At first I thought these are big responsibilities but then I thought if people trust me with this I will do my best to do my jobs well.”

Recognizing Winston’s potential, 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.

Winston, fourth from left, takes a group of volunteers to Canigao Island

Winston completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the Eastern Visayas State University. Before he went on to graduate with Masters in 2013, Winston had already landed a job with VFV!

The 27-year-old is one of VFV’s Volunteer Program Coordinators — responsible for volunteer airport transfers, volunteer support and excursions and assisting in researching new projects and placements in need of volunteers. And he has taken to his role with the same passion he applies to all aspects of life.

“The thing I like best about my job is experiencing different cultures and different languages,” he said.

“It’s great to interact with people from all over the world, to learn about their cultures and use that knowledge to be of better service to the next group of people that come through.

“If the volunteers enjoy their experience with us it is very rewarding for me.”

More than anything Winston enjoys his role in VFV’s work empowering local communities to build themselves a better future.

“This community has helped build me into the person I am today so it feels good to give back.”

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

*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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