Asia America Initiative

The mission of AAI is to build hope and empower communities afflicted by armed conflict and severe poverty. We believe that peace, security and respect for human dignity are inseparable. Our goal is to develop programs as sustainable models that can be replicated globally. Our people-to-people initiatives integrate health, education, arts and livelihood as a basis for mediation. By building Hope, we overcome the hatred propagated by terror organizations. The success of these cost-effective models shows that empowering impoverished and conflict-plagued communities strengthens international security, stability and peace.
Mar 24, 2015

Rare Disease Child Fulfills Her Dream to Sing

Pauline in blue Princess gown sings on-stage
Pauline in blue Princess gown sings on-stage

On Valentine Day 2015, a small child in a blue Princess gown named Pauline, age 10, fulfilled a dream by singing on stage at a concert in the Makati District of Manila, Philippines benefitting seriously ill children such as herself. She was joined on stage by five other small friends with whom she shares treatment via the Rare and Orphan Disease Division of the National Institute of Health at Philippines General Hospital. The concert, starring the singing group the Angelos, benefitted the Philippine Society for Orphan Disorders. The children's proud families attended as guests of Asia America Initiative who support and assist their care by NIH by facilitating the specialized medicines from the United States to Manila. Thanks to Global Giving donors, AAI made a $500 donation to PSOD to cover the cost of supplemental medicines and nutritional support for these very special children. 

Pauline suffers from a very rare disorder named Gaucher Disease. Gaucher disease is caused by a deficiency of the enzyme glucocerebrosidase.  It affects the spleen, liver, lungs, bone marrow, and brain.   There is only one life-saving treatment: enzyme replacement therapy.  Imiglucerase  (cerezyme)- Genzyme  is available for most people with types 1 and 3 Gaucher disease. Given intravenously every two weeks, this therapy decreases liver and spleen size, reduces skeletal anomalies, and reverses other symptoms of the disorder, including abnormal blood counts.

Dr. Maryanne Chiong, lead physician at the Institute of Human Genetics at the National Institutes of Health says, "These children are from very indigent families from Manila and some from provinces. Their families could never afford the cost of these very specialized medicines.  But without the monthly intravenous cerezyme medicines they will die from internal bleeding or from neurologic complications -- if their brain is affected."  

Asia America Initiative's assistance to these children via Dr. Chiong and her staff compliments the wonderful hospitality and support and supplemental funding for travel and lodging that comes from the privately-funded PSOD to children such as Pauline and their families.  Until a more permanent cure is found, the children will need their monthly injections for their entire lives.

When AAI staff first met Pauline in 2011, she was a frightened five year old wearing a surgical mask in a hospital bed. She was in continuous pain and had refused to go to kindergarten because of teasing by other children about her appearance--her swollen abdomen caused by the disease. She faced imminent tragedy due to the pressure on her liver.  She could hardly walk, much less dance.  

The past four years of medical care has made a tremendous difference. At the Valentine benefit concert,  Pauline who loves to sing and dance and always has a big smile, wore a blue princess dress and tiara with a microphone in her hand. It was a dream come true to be on stage in a spotlight with her friends to sing along with the Angelos "boy band." 

In a previous visit to NIH facilities at Philippine General Hospital, her grateful Mom said with tears in her eyes, "May God bless all of our friends from far away places who have never met us, but have cared for Pauline as if she was one of their own family members. Words cannot describe the gratitude that we feel. Maraming salamat.[Thank you very much.]"

Pauline 2011 suffering from lethal rare disease
Pauline 2011 suffering from lethal rare disease
2014 medical treatment of rare disease kids at NIH
2014 medical treatment of rare disease kids at NIH
2014 Pauline and Krishna receive monthly treatment
2014 Pauline and Krishna receive monthly treatment
2015 Pauline,  10 years old, rehearses w friends
2015 Pauline, 10 years old, rehearses w friends
Valentine 2015 Concert with Pauline and friends
Valentine 2015 Concert with Pauline and friends
Pauline and Krishna filled with life
Pauline and Krishna filled with life
AAI Dir. Santoli with Pauline and Mom at NIH 2012
AAI Dir. Santoli with Pauline and Mom at NIH 2012

Links:

Mar 18, 2015

School-based Nutrition Leads to Students' Success

Catig-Lacadon Elementary reading books from AAI
Catig-Lacadon Elementary reading books from AAI

SCHOOL BASED  NUTRITION PROGRAM LEADS TO STUDENT's SUCCESS AFTER TYPHOON

 When Asia America Initiative members first visited the 189 Filipino students at Catig-Lacadon Elementary School in Dueñas,in rural Iloilo province, they found a school devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.  Buildings were devastated, most books were destroyed and children were suffering from malnutrition caused by crop destruction. The school was largely forgotten by the government and were not expecting any assistance. Even though AAI had a limited budget and many schools requesting our assistance, we made a commitment to provide supplemental textbooks donated from United States schools.  And we asked the school administrators and Parent-Teachers Association to wortk with us on a daily school lunch proogram cooked and served by voluneer parents and teachers.  

AAI Head Nurse, Ms. Faith Omel dela Torre, made the difficult journey into a highland area to get a first hand view of the shool's most urgent needs. She recommended we intervene with an emphasis on nutrition, hygiene and reading maerials. She believed our showing concern would provide the Hope to begin healing from the trauma and maintaining a strong standard of education.  

School Principal Rowena recalls, "After the typhoon most all of our school books were destroyed and many families in our community could barely feed their children due to the destroyed crops. Being a rural school we felt very worried about that no one would come to our aid and we could not resume nornal lives. The visit of AAI to our small community was an unexpected surprise. Teachers and parents had a meeting and decided to accept AAI's offer of support." AAI delivered books,water pipes for clean water and pots and pans for daily lunches to be cooked by Moms, as well as a difgital scale to weigh the children and chart their health recovery. 

The school community responded by purchasing a refrigerator to be used for storage of their food purchases for week's feeding. With AAI donors' in the US providing modest funding support, the PTA could purchase fresh foods for one week and reduce  transportation expense. Parents also agreed to assist with gardening and cooking daily lunches. Each parent doing the cooking brought their own pots and ladles. In her monthly visits, Nurse Faith reflects, "I was touched by the sincerity and the cooperation of each parent and teacher in our program. Rather than skip clases because they were sick or too weak from lack of food, children have gone school every day because of the feeding. The teachers told me that if it is like a holiday and the children look sad if they missed the feeding for a day because every day they were excited for the menu.

Classroom improvement of the children is noticable.  Parents and teachers also bing vegetables that are available in their backyardd gardens so that they can provide more food for lunch. Children bring their own rice every day except for those whose families don’t have enough money to provide. In those cases, the teachers provide for their needs.

During the first first week of March, 2015,  Nurse Faith completed the third weighing of the children. "I am happy to inform you," she conveys, "that the students of Catig-Lacadon ES are now always present and active in class because of our feeding program. No student or child is now experiencing stomach aches and dizziness because of the hunger. Although there are some children that did not eat their breakfast before going to school because they don’t have food at home, they go to school early because they are excited for their feeding."

Principal Rowena adds, "Most of the children are gaining weight with only a few still malnourished. Teachers report that children are now more active in outdoor play and in class discussions compared to just six months ago.It was only. AAI who remembered us and inspired this feeding program and provided essential support. Teachers and parents are so very thankful." 

The nutritional improvement and the text books provided by AAI has permitted  Catig-Lacadon Elementary to have remedial education classes scheduled everyday in each grade  to borrow and read the books that AAI provided. There is also a  mini Library in the principal’s office. The books are still in the big plastic boxes which are neatly arranged and kept properly. Principal Rowena states, "The children really value the books that AAI gave to them." And the school has shined in academic performance, Recently, three Catig-Lacadon students were champions in a Regional math competition. Principal Rowena sends her heartfelt message to the Global Giving donor community,  "God bless all those donors to AAI who have made our recovery possible." 

Catig-Lacadon building destroyed by typhoon
Catig-Lacadon building destroyed by typhoon
Pupils of Catig-Lacadon Elementary
Pupils of Catig-Lacadon Elementary
Catig-Lacadon teachers and parents cook and serve
Catig-Lacadon teachers and parents cook and serve
Students eat together outdoors Catig-Lacadon
Students eat together outdoors Catig-Lacadon
sweet snacks during National Exams for 3rd graders
sweet snacks during National Exams for 3rd graders
Final Exams at Catig-Lacadon
Final Exams at Catig-Lacadon
Regional math champions from Catig-Lacadon
Regional math champions from Catig-Lacadon

Links:

Jan 27, 2015

Video:16 AAI scholars in Typhoon zone

AAI Bright Future Scholars gratulation ceremony
AAI Bright Future Scholars gratulation ceremony

In April 2015, the second batch of 11 Asia America Initiative/One World Institute college scholars will graduate from Eastern Visayas State University near Tacloban Philippines.  All of the scholarship students had their lives disrupted by Typhoon Haiyan, which is considered by the United Nations as the largest Pacific-based storm ever recorded. As part of the recovery process, Asia America Initiative backed by GlobalGiving donors assured that 27 juniors and seniors would have their tuition and other fees paid for so they could complete their educations and assist with the rebuilding of their communities.  

We welcome our extended community of donors to views a very joyful short video of the 2011 graduate ceremony of the first 16 scholars. It is a heart warming experience that is a testimony to the strength of our shared human spirits and the power of friendship.  We congratulate the teachers and mentors at VSU for inspiring our students.  And we thank all donors who helped to make this achievement possible.

Please use this link to AAI's web site where the video is located.

AAI & OWI Eastern Visayas State University Scholars Video

Links:

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