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From the Field

Constructing school chairs with self-reliance

The Tacloban Persons with Disabilities Multi-Purpose Cooperative, or TAPDICO, located in barangay Abucay of Tacloban City, is a government-run program that employs about 30 people with mental, physical, and/or sensory impairments. Their job is to build armchairs for schools, from start to finish.

This past week, Volunteer for the Visayans began sending volunteers to TAPDICO, working wherever need be. Tyler, from the United States, was the first volunteer to be sent and spent his first day sanding wood that would become the seat of an armchair.

Tyler, VFV volunteer, sands wood that later becomes the seat of an armchair.

The process of building a single armchair, which on average takes 30 minutes, involves welding, cutting wood, sanding and painting. The staff of TAPDICO produces two types of armchairs. A steel and wood combination is available, and can be fabricated entirely at their workshop in Abucay. For the steel and plastic combination, they weld the steel into a frame, and send it to Manila to be finished with plastic. Armchairs are then distributed to various schools in the area.

Often times the National Council on Disability Affairs contracts out TAPDICO, giving the program a certain number of chairs to complete within a specific deadline. A long-term goal of VFV’s involvement with TAPDICO is to also provide these types of contracts. Employees are paid depending on output for each week.

A worker paints some of the school chairs outside the workshop.

Gemalyn states, “ We want to show people that being disabled does not mean you have to live on the streets. It is possible to still be self-reliant.”

She adds, “Because they’ll know the chairs they are studying on are built by people with disabilities, we hope to encourage students to work harder in school.”

While the furniture built is impressive, the most inspiring aspect of TAPDICO is its people. Forced to work considerably harder due to their impairments, makes the project and its products all the more noteworthy.

If you’d like to get involved with this project or others like it, click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities with VFV.

*Written by Courtney Cunningham, media intern from the US



Posted in Donate, News, Uncategorized, Volunteer Abroad in the Philippines, Volunteer Program | 1 Comment

Sweet dreams make magic happen

Near the rickety collection of huts that make up the remote village of Tagpuro you wouldn’t expect much, let alone a program as inspiring as the Social Development Center (SDC).

Volunteers Natasha (right) and Tahlia (left) with some of the boys of SDC.

First established in 2003, SDC (better known as sweet dreams) was created to provide street children with shelter and protection. The children are brought to the shelter by NGO’s, social workers, or the children’s parents. Often times it’s due to abandonment, abuse, or domestic issues. Once introduced to the facility children are not forced to stay and may leave if they wish to do so.

Several months ago Tahlia Sharples, a volunteer with Volunteer for Visayans, joined the program. Working tirelessly with the centers local staff she has embarked on a daring mission to improve the condition of the run down and poorly equipped facility. Since Typhoon Yolanda struck in 2013 the facility has been largely neglected due to a lack of proper government funding.

Walking through the facility, Tahlia recollects on the various projects that have already been undertaken.

“Through personal fundraising on indiegogo I was able to get the children some critical medical treatment such as eye treatments and extensive dental surgery. One of the kids had to have 10 dental fillings as they can’t afford basic necessities like tooth paste to brush their teeth.”

If you would like to donate to Tahlia’s fundraising project, click here!

A warm smile from Darrel, one of the boys at SDC.

Going through the center it becomes clear Tahlia and newly inducted volunteer Natasha have a genuine care for the future of the children at the center, going so far as to purchase farm animals to ensure there is a steady flow of income to the center well after they leave.

Whilst Tahlia and Natasha’s work has been remarkable, ongoing programs like this are only possible with your support. If you would like to help with this project by volunteering click here!

*Written by Robin White, media intern from Australia


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VFV teachers a welcome addition at Tugop Elementary

Surrounded by panoramic views of rice paddies, banana trees, and sprawling mountain scenery sits Tugop Elementary School. Located near the recently devastated town of Tanauan, the school provides education to 205 children in and around the small village.

Volunteer Tom, from Australia, leading a Science class.

Newly arrived VFV volunteers Tom and Kat were a welcome addition to the small group of teachers that keep the remote school running. “The children and the staff are just amazing” said Tom. Despite the enormous challenges caused by Typhoon Yolanda, the school continues to provide an essential service to the community. “The school does have major issues including a lack of school supplies. The school has one science textbook which is heavily water damaged,” said Tom.

Aside from a need for basic school supplies there is also a need to repair some of the schools critical infrastructure. “Following Typhoon Yolanda the school’s only mechanical pump and filter were completely destroyed. Now we draw water from a dirty hole in the ground” said Principal Jason Gaduena. As a result of the poor conditions many children regularly suffer from diarrhea and other illnesses.

A local boy draws from the school water hole.

Aside from a need for clean water, an ongoing nutrition program is critical to ensure the continued development and health of the students. “Most of the children come from farming families, so the poverty faced here is seasonal. During non-harvesting periods children often eat very little. Families have little money to buy enough food let alone school supplies such as stationery and uniforms,” Principal Gaduena explains.

With the assistance of the Adopt-a-School program, Volunteer for Visayans hopes to improve the conditions at Tugop Elementary School. To join the program and improve the lives of 205 children in need, please click here and let us know!

*Written by Robin White, media intern from Australia


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