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From the Field

10 Years of VFV and How It Flourished

Helena Claire A. Canayong , otherwise known as “Wim Wim”, is  the director of VFV and has been through every hurdle and every triumph that VFV has faced in the last ten years. She speaks to me honestly and openly in her cosy office, relaying to me how not only how has she personally handled certain situations, but also how VFV have responded to them.

VFV is a non-profit non- government organization that solely focuses on social welfare and the development of IMG_7644the community. VFV runs and sustains a number of projects scattered around Tacloban city and Helena is insistent when creating a project to make it sustainable because, “when you start something here, you have to finish it”, especially for instance, when you are in the hands of a child’s education, as the “hardest thing is giving hope and then removing it”.  Helena’s aims and objectives are illustrated and embedded in each and every employee in the company, “we teach people how to fish, not to be parasites,” as then children can become independent themselves, think for themselves and act for themselves. In this way, VFV works as a stepping stone, pushing a child in the right direction, “transcending values and rules” put in place by VFV to other areas of their life and training them to be future volunteers, helping out in all areas possible.

VFV acts as a beacon, a “definition of hope” to those that need it, and there are many that do. However, VFV have not always been this clear and transparent with their aims and objectives as Helena recounts that it “wasn’t always easy” before, as when the previous director was leading the organization, they had lacked the NGO experience which Helena gained working with a business consultancy. Despite being completely different NGO’s, Helena speaks of the positive influence this had on her work ethic, and on her administrative and organizational skills, which is a key aspect to running an organization, as a “good admin leads to a good foundation and makes the company systematically organized”.  The experience Helena had with the business consultancy NGO, had allowed her to gain the role of admin officer where Helena adjusted and constructed a new structure to format the company which has led to the success of VFV. As well as this role, Helena acquired the role of finance officer; center coordinator, community program coordinator, HR officer and finally, director in 2013. Working in every area of an organization has enabled Helena to learn each aspect of VFV and what it needs to flourish and thrive.

There has been much change from the start, from 2 workers and 1 local volunteer helping out, to 11 workers and countless volunteers, it has progressed the projects and allowed “the community programs to evolve over time”. With more hands on deck, it means VFV is able to reach more people with the work that they do, sponsoring now over 200 children from various projects and communities.  Despite reaching and supporting a number of members of the community, VFV still faces many difficulties and although Helena loves her work, “it’s a constant struggle”.  A constant struggle with clients- the children, the children’s parents, members of the community, volunteers themselves, finances and physical issues like transportation, but for now- “this is how we do things”.

VFV knows its limitations and resources, understanding the difficulties and learning from them and improving. Its focus is “based on capacity not ambitions of targets”.  And with this mindset, Helena looks to the future with optimism, to hopefully “strengthen what VFV have already established, before expanding through new projects”.  Another aim is for the international volunteers to not have to pay to volunteer, but just be an extra hand, as hopefully the organization will have reached the point to be able to financially support themselves and their projects.  As well as this, VFV hopes to “spread its wings” furthering sponsored children’s education and moving into their own space.  

VFV’s dreams and ambitions are achievable and hopefully with the continuous support of their sponsors, they can reach them. In just 10 years, VFV has grown from nothing, to a network of beneficial NGO workers and members of community whom are forever thankful. Although facing daily hardships, a disastrous typhoon and a risky recession, VFV have pulled through with even more strength and endeavor than before. Let’s hope they will continue to grow and expand over the next ten years.

Written by Vicky Carter

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Meet The Sponsored Children

Karren Gahuman, nineteen years old, is a beautiful young woman who lives in Bliss, Tacloban.

She has been sponsored so far for 8 eight years, since grade five. Karren is doing a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics.DSC_0307 She will graduate in two years. She loves to play guitar and dance. Since her sponsoring,

the young woman keeps in touch with her sponsor. Every year, she communicates with him via letters or emails. She is really happy that she can have a relationship with him.


Karren said that Volunteer for the Visayans really changed her life, not only in a financial way, but also in a personal way. She now wears nicer clothes and feels better with herself. She now has a second floor in her house!. Because the financial and social burdens have been lifted, she has better relationships with her family. ”I am more confident” the schoolgirl declared.


Not only does Karren feels better, but also her family! With the help of her sponsor, the family is now able to save money and have less financial problems. They were all thrilled when Karren was sponsored, because they saw a future and a better life for her. The future looks good for the whole family now. Thanks to her sponsor, Karren can go to school, eat daily, and have a great life.


Karren was not the only one. There is also Roselyn, another sponsored child from Tacloban. She is seventeen years old. It also has been eight years that she has been sponsored. Before the sponsoring program, Roselyn had to help her family and her siblings, so she couldn’t go to school. Since elementary school, this young girl has been sponsored, and now she is studying for an Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences at Eastern Visayans State University in Tacloban.Roselyn is proud of her accomplishment, and she is grateful for everything.The sponsoring program helped her to become more mature and be able to enjoy the life.


Just like Karren and Roselyn, Alexis Avila, a twenty year old boy, is also benefiting from this program. He has been sponsored for almost ten years now. This sponsor also supports two other children. Alexis graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Information and Technology. He is a brilliant young man who was very integrated into his community, which gave him the opportunity to plant trees and plants after the Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Like many other children, Alexis’s family was very poor, so he couldn’t afford to go to school. Since Alexis was sponsored, he was able to go to school and also attend university. His family are really happy and grateful for the sponsor.


The Child Sponsorship Program is an opportunity to support a child in the community to go to school, to improve their capacities, and to give them the chance to become more responsible and successful in the future. It also gives underprivileged and underserved children the possibility to grow and thrive in better conditions, just as Karren Gahumen, Roselyn Quirante, and Alexis Avila have.


Written by: Sandrine Leblanc and Roxanne St-Pierre

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A Workshop with The Girls Club

On Sunday the 14th of June, I facilitated a workshop with 9 members of the girls club, all sponsored children from various areas of the community, now studying in school. I enjoy facilitating workshops with a purpose and have had experience working with a number of different types of people and ages, however I had not worked away from England with my work. Adjusting my usual practice which I use with girls of a similar age in England, I devised a workshop which would be coherent and clear to all those involved, as obviously English is not their first language.

My main focus of the workshop was to have fun. I wanted this to be transparent at the start of the workshop, that I could create a space where those involved would be able to enjoy themselves without feeling like there are any strict guidelines to how they should behave in the workshop.  As well as this, my role here is not permanent, and my stay here only two wIMG_7560eeks, I made sure all my games would be well understood and recognized so even after I left, the girls would be able to continue playing them, making my work sustainable and long lasting. My second focus of the workshop was to create a comfortable environment in which the girls could flourish in confidence and become creative through simple exercises and devising. To do this I introduced the form of acting slowly and over time through a number of games. Using some truth games, which rely on facial expressions and body language to distinguish if a player is lying or not, we slowly began to focus on the players and discovering if they were telling the truth or not by these factors, thus introducing the element of acting. We then played a game which opened shared interests and common issues, introducing the Philippines as a common theme. 

From here, I could stem a discussion about the Philippines and Typhoon Yolanda. Using emotions that appeared throughout the disaster, the girls devised freeze frames and scenes about the emotion described, but in a home or school environment, as well as creating a scene about their favorite thing about the Philippines. Among giggles and large beaming smiles, they performed in front of one another, thriving in confidence and enjoying the experience of acting, developing their performing skills in front of an audience. 


 The workshop was jam packed, full of exercises and games over the two hours which was beneficial for their personal development through performing and confidence building, as well as fun, (well at least that’s what they told me!) Unfortunately I am not here in the following weeks, as I would love for the workshop to be a weekly activity, with different themes each week that would be effective in their growth into adults. However, I hope another volunteer whom has a passion for applied theater or facilitating workshops, will one day come to Tacloban and bring new games and fresh activities. But in the mean time, I hope these girls continue to play the games I taught them, and enjoy doing so. 

Written by Vicky Carter



Posted in Volunteer Abroad in the Philippines | Leave a comment
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