This past week, we were able to take a day off of placement to go and venture around Tacloban looking at some of the other project sites that VFV sponsors. Our first stop was the saddest of them all, and it’s called the dumpsite project. The name is pretty self explanatory as we arrived at the site of where all of the surrounding area’s trash is dumped onto the land, here are a few pics:
In the past, the dumpsite has been filled with many kids scrounging around the trash for a living to help bring their family money and useful items. VFV has come in to help provide the kids with a new life outside of living in the dump, by providing sponsors that help provide the children with the incentive to stop working at the dumpsite and continue their education. To learn more about this project, go here: http://www.visayans.org/community-center/dumpsite-project
The next stop during our day was to a small town near San Rouge, where we visited the household of one of the sponsor children. What a sponsored kid means exactly, is VFV evaluates families in the local area to find those who cannot support their children with the proper sustenance and clothing required to be able to attend school, and then they find sponsors willing to donate money to help the kids. The child we saw had been sponsored for eight years by the same person, and has been succeeding very well in school during the entire time.
We continued on with our daily tour to San Rouge Elementary School, where we were able to see how VFV has impacted this school system. Over the past ten years, VFV has sent volunteers to help teach here, however they were all pretty short term and no one is there now. They do, however, have a large sponsor that was able to donate to get a small computer center available for the kids to use, which was very generous. Here are a few pics of the school:
Moving along, our next stop was in a very small, rural village on the outer edge of Tacloban. Here, we visited the site of a soon to be community center that was being funded by fundraising from a past volunteer. She managed to raise $30,000 USD through her church for the site, and the project is in the final steps. The center will be used for a nutrition project once it is complete, and will also serve as a place for the community to camp out when the town floods. Flooding is very common in low lying areas like this, so having the center built high above the ground ensures it’s survival through future typhoon seasons. Here are some pics from the site and surrounding area:
We finished the day with lunch on a beautiful beach, and then visited the MacArthur Landing Memorial, where General MacArthur famously returned to help remove the Japanese forces from the island. If we were on a family vacation, I guarantee my Dad would have spent a while here…
All in all, it was a very interesting day to learn about all the other things this non-profit does. I also enjoyed it because I got to see where my tuition was going to, in the flesh. During my orientation, I learned that while some of my tuition to volunteer in the program goes towards my homestay and staff fees, a majority of it goes to funding the programs that VFV puts on, mainly the feeding programs. At first I was a little put off by it, because as we learned in GPP, many NGOs are deficient in funds and seek out ways to make the most money as possible, and I was afraid VFV would turn out this way. But, from what I have been able to deduce thus far from my experience here, is that they live off barely enough money to support their families, and each staff member genuinely cares about the volunteers that come through and always give the projects and us their number one priority. And for this reason, I am greatful for each and every one of them for the effort they are making to change their communities, because change truly starts when initiative is taken by those truly passionate about the cause.