Dozens of children are given a helping hand to get an education through VFV’s sponsorship scheme.
Currently 151 children in Southern Leyte stretching from Ormoc to Cangumbang, Tacloban and Planza Island are sponsored through VFV.
It costs $300 a year to sponsor a student, and anyone can be a sponsor. This money pays for school uniforms, school supplies, a school bag and also provides them with medical assistance and monthly groceries.
VFV sponsorship co-ordinator Maria Crisel said that without this financial support it could mean quite literally that the children could not go to school.
Maria said: “The sponsorship programme is very important because the sponsors are the ones who are helping to send the children to school and supporting them to have a great future.”
She continued: “Most of the sponsors are volunteers who have worked with VFV. We ask them to commit to sponsoring the child until high school. If the student shows promise and can continue to study at university we will ask the sponsor if they are willing to continue supporting them. If they are unable to then we will seek sponsorship elsewhere for the child if they are doing well and deserve to finish their studies.”
However Maria said sponsors do not cover all school costs as VFV believe that some responsibility should stay with the parents so that they do not fully rely on the volunteers. Therefore costs such as enrolment fees and ID fees are still covered by the children’s parents.
The sponsorship co-ordinators at VFV have monthly meetings with the sponsored children’s parents and conduct school and house visits.
“It’s very important that we visit the children at their school. Sometimes we discover that the student has not been attending class. It is very frustrating as the sponsor is working hard to pay towards helping the child attend class,” Maria said.
In this case a child is given a warning in the first instance, if they continue with the behaviour they are told that their sponsorship could be pulled.
VFV has also outlined that sponsored children must also follow a code of conduct. This involves wearing appropriate dress – girls must not wear short shorts and no T-shirts with inappropriate slogans are allowed. Fighting, talking back to staff and bullying are also not tolerated.
And there are a few added extras that some sponsored kids can benefit from. Children around the Bliss community in Tacloban can attend tutorials run by volunteers on weekdays from 5.30-7pm. The tutorials are designed to help pupils with their studies and give them extra tuition to help them get ahead.
The VFV sponsorship team also organise field trips for sponsored children who have performed well at school to reward them for their hard work. The last excursion was a swimming trip.
To find out more about sponsoring a child visit https://visayans.org/sponsor-a-child
*Written by volunteer Michelle Curran, journalist and editor from the UK