Support 40 Typhoon Survivors Finish College

 
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Valedictorian Rosemaylin, VSU class 2015
Valedictorian Rosemaylin, VSU class 2015

On April 24, 2015 the final eleven Bright Future Scholars who were supported by Asia America Initiative and our GlobalGiving donors graduated from Visayas State University in Leyte which was especially devastated by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. The purpose of the scholarship was to inspire the surrounding communities by the success of these undergraduate students whose families’ homes and livelihoods were destroyed by the epic storm. We were pleasantly impressed that there were five Cum Laude graduates among the Bright Future group.

Although we did not reach our full target of $24,000 for two years of tuition coverage for 27 to 40 students, AAI covered close to half of the amount needed. Three other partner organizations covered the remaining amount of funding needed for these youths to stay in school and graduate. And Visayas State University administrators provided full support for this program to succeed. AAI's intention was for these youths – whose parents are hardworking community members – to represent the willingness to achieve a college degree in practical, professional fields of study. This will enable these new graduates to find decent jobs and to help rebuild their communities over the long term.

Sharmaine graduated Cum Laude with a degree in Environmental Management. She says, "Our community has suffered great hardship and despair after Typhoon Yolanda. People have gotten more poor. Our role as scholars is to assist the community with the skills we have learned."

Another honors student, Leomar, graduated with a degree in Chemistry. "The scholarship inspired me to strive more," he states,” and to work harder to achieve greater heights in my field of study. I am so grateful to all of our benefactors who permitted myself and the other scholars the opportunity to go far in life."

"I now see a bright light in what had been a dark road," says Bonifacio who earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering and who was recognized as the most inspiring student by his graduating class because of the obstacles that he and his mother, who hand-washes clothes to support her son and elementary school daughter, have overcome. "We scholars are becoming role models to motivate the people that poverty is not an impossible hindrance to achieving success... as long as we have the desire accompanied with perseverance."

And with a little help from their friends at AAI and Global Giving, their dreams of education have been realized. Thank you all!!  

VSU Leyte graduating class 2015
VSU Leyte graduating class 2015
Bright Future Scholar Joram, BS Education w family
Bright Future Scholar Joram, BS Education w family
VSU Leyte Dean Dr. Edwin Balabarino
VSU Leyte Dean Dr. Edwin Balabarino
Scholar Sharmaine, BS Environmental Science
Scholar Sharmaine, BS Environmental Science
Scholar Bonifacio w Mom, BS Mech Engineering
Scholar Bonifacio w Mom, BS Mech Engineering

Links:

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:

Bright Future Scholars at  Visayas State Univ
Bright Future Scholars at Visayas State Univ

Following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in November 2013, thousands of college students in the Visayas region faced a life-altering dilemna: Their homes and families' savings were devastated by the massive destruction caused by the flooding, storm surge tsunamis and raging 200 mph winds.  They were doubtful they could afford to pay tuition and fees for graduation.  A consortium of non-profit organizations and philanthropists, including Asia America Initiative, formed a network to assure that at least 30 to 40 scholars at  Visayas University in Leyte could overcome their families' misfortune and finish their targeted graduation on schedule.  The scholastic achievements of the Bright Future Scholars would be a morale booster and symbol of hope for their home communities.

Thanks to a little help to AAI from Global Giving donors, we assisted some 20 scholars graduate in the Spring of 2014. As we enter 2015, another 11 Bright Future seniors -- 7 females and 4 males --  at VSU are entering their final semester to qualify for bachelor of Science Degrees in Agriculture/ Botany; Chemistry; Finance, Civil Engineering and School Teaching.

In the recent Global Giving "Haiyan Matching Fund" campaign, AAIraised close to $200 which will assist 3 of the scholars to cover the cost of their final examinations required for graduation.  The three students will be earning Bachelor of Science degrees in Agriculture, Education and Civil Engineering.  All of these fields are vital for the long term rebuilding of storm-damaged communities.  

Dr. Yolanda Ortega Stern, an education and community economics specialist is President of One World Institute, a consortium partner in the Bright Future Scholars program, She says, "The achievement of the scholars has been an inspiration to their families ansd communities, which are largely agriculture based.  The support from people they have never met has inspired everyone in the surrounding communities where the scholars live to keep their heads held high and keep up their efforts to persevere in the wake of the storm.  We are very grateful to all of our donors who have enabled us to keep our promises and sustain this academic effort."

On behalf of the Bright Futures team members and beneficiaries, we send our sincere appreciation and wish many blessings and happiness to all of our contributors in the New Year! 

Bright Future scholars hands-In for success
Bright Future scholars hands-In for success
Scholars receive job search lecture
Scholars receive job search lecture

Links:

Scholars and an advisor put their hands together
Scholars and an advisor put their hands together

Asia America Initiative is pleased to announce to our donors who contributed to "Support Typhoon Survivors to Finish College" that we have met our goal to cover the cost of the education of the 25 youths who qualified for 2014 and 2015 graduation. The juniors and seniors were accepted into the Bright Futures Scholars program at Visayas State University in Ormoc, near the epicenter of the November 2013 typhoon in the Philippines.  Girls and boys, they are studying a range of subjects such as agriculture, nursing, computer science, and food management. The scholars and their College Administrators have already received the funds needed to complete their college education and are properly accounting for all resources.  

Our Global Giving community of donors contributed 15 percent of the total needed, an additional 25 percent came from corporations who adopted AAI's typhoon recovery programs through Global Giving.  The remaining 60 percent came through a consortium of individual benefactors and non-profit charitable organizations such as IPI Foundation and One World Institute.  Needless to say, service providers and the scholars are incredibly grateful to you all. 

The scholarships represent hope of recovery to rebuild lives caused by the massive storrn, floods and devastation to millions of lives during and after Typhoon Haiyan.  More than a million people remain homeless and more than a million others struggle to rebuild their lives in the Visayas area.  During recent recent weeks steady hard rain from a series of monsoon storms continues to cause misery and slow the process of recovery.  AAI and our partners are pleased to be part of the organizations, local and international, of all shapes and sizes, who contunue to try our best to assist those in need.  We could not do it without kind and generous donors from around the world.  No amount is too small.  We are blessed because it comes from your hearts. 

 

Thank you again for your kindness.  May God bless you all.

2014 Bright Future Scholar was class Valedictorian
2014 Bright Future Scholar was class Valedictorian
Entire community celebrates 2014 graduation
Entire community celebrates 2014 graduation
Visayas State University campus after the typhoon
Visayas State University campus after the typhoon
Some of he scholars on campus between classes
Some of he scholars on campus between classes

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AAI scholar Fatima Jean Dimas graduates cum laude
AAI scholar Fatima Jean Dimas graduates cum laude
Two important keys to Peace and Development are education and livelihood creation. Asia America Initiative has committed to assist in the 2014-15 school year an additional  20 juniors and 20 seniors at the respected Visayas State Univerisy in historic Leyte island of the philippines to finish their college degrees with the promise from a public health corporation of employment opportunities for the graduates. In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, after their families lost all of their possessions, these students did not believe they could finish school and learn professional skills. Today you can support these scholars to complete their educations and rebuild their communities.Our first graduates in 2014 included a number of Cum Laude Honors award recipients.  They can be a shining success story for impacted communities, not only in the Philippines but all around the world.
Our first 20 graduates in 2014 included two young women Elisha and Fatima Jean, who graduated Cum Laude. The scholars "batch" of 2015 are also a wonderful group of young men and women.  We are fortunate that while Asia America Initiave with support from our donors at Global Giving provided funds for tuition, fees, transportation and books,Our good friend at IPI Corporation [International Pharma] and their Foundation provided mentoring trhough Ms. Lourdes Damazo as part of the scholarship program [similar to intern but in classroom setting] and the One World Institute headed by Economics Ph.D. Yolanda Stern and her husband Dr. Tom Stern, MD of Stanford University in California provided other forms of advice and coordination.  We all put aside our ego's to work unselfishly for the benefit of the students.  At the end of the first seme4ster of the program 20 out of 20 scholars graduated and are now preparing for jobs.
Many students at VSU are the children of subsistance farmers and fishermen.  One scholar, Daniel, age 21, comes from a rural farming area of Leyte.  At graduation ceremony at VSU explained, "My family lost everything, and I have only one parent...  so I was struggling to find a way to finish the last year of my education. I had no one to turn to.  I feel inexpressable happoiness bcause now I have proved that we can overcome life's adversity with the encouragement and help of friends -- even if they are strangers who have not ever met me or my mother.  Thanks to the bright Scholars program I can believe in having a future." 
Another student, Elisha, 20, who became a Cum laude graduate stated, "I cried eery day becausse I did not even have 10 pesos [25 cents] to pay for the cost of a bicycle tazxi to get to my school each day.  I could not believe when Ms. Lourdes and our College President announced that last year students would be chosen based on their grades ansd charactser to become Bright Future Scholars.  I want to thank every perrson overseas who donated to me so I can now work and make enough pay to help feed my family."
VSU President, Dr. Jose Bacusmo thanks everyone who assisted, adding, "After the huge storm we did not know how a number of our excellent students could afford to finish schools due to their families and communities devasation, not even having houses to live in... not even tents.  Our heartfelt joy is expressed every day.  This scholarship program is beyond our most impossible dreams."
Dear Donors:  The educators and students at VSU are a shining example for the wortld.  They cannot do it alone.  WE can do this together.
Commencement ceremony at VSU -- overcoming typhoon
Commencement ceremony at VSU -- overcoming typhoon
Bright Futures Scholars all present and achieving
Bright Futures Scholars all present and achieving
Ms. Lourdes, Elisha and VSU advisor
Ms. Lourdes, Elisha and VSU advisor
scholars 2014 batch on VSU campus
scholars 2014 batch on VSU campus
scholars with mentor Ms. Lourdes
scholars with mentor Ms. Lourdes

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Organization

Project Leader

Albert Santoli

Washington, DC United States

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Map of Support 40 Typhoon Survivors Finish College