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.
Nov 29, 2016

Holistic Treatment for Children with Cancer

Pre-teen patient overcoming cancer, House of Hope
Pre-teen patient overcoming cancer, House of Hope

 

In 2014, 49 of our first 50 patients in Manila became cancer free. We are now support holistic treatment filled with hope and encouragement to assist more than 3,000 children suffering from various forms of cancer at the House of Hope Center in Davao, Philippines.  In addition, we are providing nutritional aid and supplemental medical support to an additional 50 children with life threatening genetic disorders at the Philippine Society for Orphan Disorders in Manila.  In almost all cases, the children come from impoverished communities where their families earn less than $5 per day.  Many of these children light up with joy to receive toys and coloring books and crayons for the first time in their lives.  

During 2016, Asia America Initiative and our partners from One World Institute have expanded our efforts to provide care for children undergoing treatment.   Sadly, there are always some losses of children suffering from terminal diseases.  However, we celebrate each gift of life. We have witnessed heart-warming healing experiences that rekindle our faith and fighting spirits.

At the Society for Orphan Disorders in Manila, 11 year old Pauline is reaching the age where most children with her type of disease are expected perish.  We first met this vivacious little girl, when she was 6 years old in a hospital bed at Philippine General Hospital.  Her eyes were silent with fright and her stomach swollen to many times its normal size due to the genetic disorder from which she suffered. Today, thanks to expert medical treatment by genetic specialists at the Philippine National Institutes of Health, she is no different in energy and liveliness than any other children her age.  Pauline’s  most joyful victory is to have been taken out of the special class in her school for children with disabilities.  She is now achieving good grades in ordinary classroom environments.  

The facilities at House of Hope are intensely overcrowded.  Many families must sleep on the floor or on the ground in the surrounding outdoor areas. We have addressed the need for additional lodging with “kubo huts” made of bamboo walls and thatch roofs.  These huts cost an average of only $300 US dollars and serve as the hotel rooms shared by families of the cancer children at the House of Hope. A local craftsman repairs any damages and only charges a small fee for his labor.

The success at House of Hope is a community act of love. None of the agencies and groups involved are especially wealthy.  However, teamwork and group effort has made a positive impact.   The City of Davao pays for the medicines, the local cancer center at the adjacent hospital facility provides free treatment.   Pidot Villocino of OWI, who also monitors activities for AAI, says, “First time visitors to House of Hope cannot hold back their tears.  300 kids cycle through treatment here each week. The isolation ward in the Children’s Wing is full.  The operating rooms are always full.  Thank God for our teen volunteers who drop in to bring food paid for by their own allowances from their parents.  They also unwrap little cooking sets for patients’ families and coloring books, crayons, toy trucks and stuffed cuddly animals provided by AAI and their USA donors.  It is our hope that the stuffed animals can, somehow, ease the pain these kids are going through….  Every time I tag along on these visits, I think, ‘Who am I to complain?’ 

Full house of love at House of Hope
Full house of love at House of Hope
Fun reading Big Books with AAI and OWI volunteers
Fun reading Big Books with AAI and OWI volunteers
AAI and OWI gifts under Christmas tree
AAI and OWI gifts under Christmas tree
Mom with children at House of Hope
Mom with children at House of Hope
Families stay in bamboo huts outside House of Hope
Families stay in bamboo huts outside House of Hope
AAI education, story books, medical supply gifts
AAI education, story books, medical supply gifts

Links:

Oct 30, 2016

Wisdom from Our Mistakes: Education, Nutrition & Water Programs Empower Peace Zones

Moms cook school lunches in Visayas
Moms cook school lunches in Visayas

Poverty, storms, and inter-cultural violence are detrimental to economic and social development in the Philippines. A school-aged population of more than 65 million children and youths are mostly impoverished and malnourished. Sulu Province with a majority Muslim population seeking autonomy, remains at the bottom of the UN's worldwide Human Development Index. Christian communities in Visayas infiltrated by a militant communist party and lumber smugglers are still recovering after Super Typhoon Haiyan.  In both regions, rural populations are caught in a deadly crossfire of hard drug and kidnap gangs and official corruption, Few schools have books, clean water, adequate nutrition and lack basic tools for livelihood training. Since 2002, Asia America Initiative has been working in both regions with a special emphasis on nutrition and clean water, no matter if a child is Christian or Muslim. We have learned from our initial misconceptions to always seek local elders' inputs and listen to include the community to build bridges of progress through positive teamwork and  unselfish partnerships. Programs are tested and sustained through the sharing of  "best practices" via social media.

When we began in 2002, we had a combination of private donations and modest US government funds to conduct a brief 12-month program.  We made the mistake of thinking US government foreign aid agencies would welcome innovation if it led to progress.  By 2003, we received awards from the Philippines President, the Regional Governor and the Philippine Secretary of Defense for creating "peace zones." But after stretching the funds from one year into a two-year program and raising matching funds from private donors, we were shocked when our grant was not renewed.  We learned that it was because we were not appreciated by bureaucrats for "revising" our "work plan" and "adjusting" how we spent funds based on suggestions from honest local leaders. 

Our mistake was expecting bureaucrats to not act like bureaucrats who value the letter of the contract whether or not it is leading to success.  However, we "failed forward" by adopting a more independent and appropriate development strategy based on community meetings and consistent oversite and testing of results.  Since, 2006 when we suffered with the disappointment of the initial grant not being renewed, our programs have grown 5-fold.  We have not taken a single dollar of US government funds, yet we have grown by utilizing basic modalities of grant writing and crowd fundraising through partners such as Global Giving.  We have earned the respect of our beneficiaries who have become full-fledged development partners in addressing nutrition needs, clean water and improved education opportunities.

The long-term positive impact of this program empowers Christian and Muslim communities to learn from each other through their respective best practices. Asia America Initiative serves as a communication bridge. Our social media networks facilitate transparent communication and dispel fear and myths that alienate communities who feel alone and abandoned. 

"AAI has the reputation of being good listeners. As a result, are welcomed and protected by local people. We are receiving requests from many additional schools for AAI support," states Nurse Shareen Mariwa, Head Nurse of the Department Education in Sulu. "We need to extend our partnership programs as we have already met our early goals last year. This is because of the confidence community leaders and parents have that there is more help coming from the AAI through your friendship.  No matter their cultures, religions and languages, we work best when it is for the interest of others.  The well-being of the children is the proven result."

 

mini nurses build mosquito traps in Sulu
mini nurses build mosquito traps in Sulu
rainwater catching tank at Timbagan Elementary
rainwater catching tank at Timbagan Elementary
school children help Dads build new school library
school children help Dads build new school library
mjorettes lead education fiesta parade
mjorettes lead education fiesta parade
Happy meal
Happy meal

Links:

Oct 11, 2016

NGO community-based partnerships improve lives of typhoon survivors

Fun lunch at Maindang Elementary School, Capiz
Fun lunch at Maindang Elementary School, Capiz

"Thank you for giving us, books, seeds, rubber slippers [sandals] and school supplies.  We appreciate your concern for us.  We promise we will study hard.  Thank you and God bless." Noel C., Grade 6 pupil, Catig-Lacadon Elementary

   In November,  2013 Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the central Philippines islands and coastal areas.  Brutal 200 mph winds and 30 foot storm surges [tidal waves] made Haiyan the most devasting storm in recorded history. Some 9 million people were rendered homeless and hundreds of schools and clean water systems were destroyed. As we approach the third anniversary, many communities and schools are still in recovery.  Asia America Initiavre is one of the few international humanitarian organizations that is still in full operational mode in the countryside areas of  Iloilo and Capiz provinces.  Even before the storm, the poverty rate of agricultural workers and small farmers was rampant and the malnutrition rate of children, whether of the Ilongo ethnic group or the mountain hilltribes was well over 50 percent. In his recent visit to some 10 school district or village schools in those areas, AAI Director Albert Santoli held community meetings with teachers and parents to better undedrstand and adapt these model programs for a wider outreach and scope of services. Principal Rowena Siverstre Ortizo of Catig-Lacadon Elementary in Duenas, Iloilo, says: "Thank you so much for the continued feeding programs of AAI The parents and students look forward to school each day because our schools have become true centers of health and learning. Our children's health directly affects their school attendance and classroom performance. We are so blessed and grateful to be one of your recepient schools"  

 "Thank you for giving us garden tools, books and many school supplies.  Many children are very happy because in afternoons pupils come to library and read books."  Ann P., Grade 6 Pupil, Aurora-Araneta Elementary

 In addition to food and clean water, the education, sports and health needs in damaged schools are being replenished, Student's fathers do volunteer construction and rennovation of buildings destroyed in the mega-storm.   In Cuartero, Capiz the results have been dramatic. “I have been to Carataya Elementary School, San Antonio Elementary and Maindang Elementary School conducting the pre-assessment in Math and English,"  says Dr. Luz Rojas Mayo of the Curatero Department of Education.  "I am happy to inform you that the said schools are now improving in terms of their health status as well on their academic performance. We are so blessed for the continuous support.of AAI and our community mobilization campaigns."  The recovery of Capiz province schools which were heavily damaged by the super typhoon.his has been made possible by the generosity of Global Giving donors. The key catalyst for success is partnership of AAI with local civic groups, village officials and parents and teachers at under-supplied schools.   

"Thank you, Sir Albert Santoli and your friends for giving the food to my classmates and other children in this school Catig-Lacadon.  We love you because you help this school.  We remember you wherever you are going to help many children in their places.  God bless you and your friends' families."  Juna Lyn R., 5th Grade, Catig-Lacadon

The new 2016-17 school year began in mid-June. Malnutrition has dropped from close to 50 percent of all students to around 5 percent. Each school now has a water tank and wash basins to provide for adequate sanitation. The quality of drinking water has dramatically improved, reducing water-borne and mosquito related illnesses. AAI and our donor-partners are viewed as reliable friends while communities re-establish farming and fishing as means of livelihood and basic sustenance. In September AAI added a new component to the rebuilding of western Visayas -- support to schools to keep youths away from drug addiction and to assist the police to reduce violence in the country-wide war on drugs.  AAI's Coordinator in Visayas, Nurse Faith Omel Dela Torre also works with the national police on the coastal Sebaste District, a frontline of the government's anti-drug campaign.  "We are coordinating with the police to distribute books, classroom supplies and games in isolated public schools,"  Nurse Faith explains.  

"The Sebaste police station officers would like to thank AAI for the generosity. The program is titled, "Oplan Ikaaram sang Kabaataan"... Ikaaram means knowledge and kabataan means children.  Everyone is very happy that AAI is part of this initiative of PNP [Philippine National Police].”

We have made great progress, in large part due to the kindness of Global Giving donors.  We are preparing for one more year of transition programs until Christmas of 2017.  Our goal is for these hard working comunities to get fully back on their feet.  We humbly ask you to join us through your ongoing support to build our school-based programs in Duenas and Capiz into Global Models of Excellence for Natural Disaster Recovery.  

Grandma teaches Moms for big crowd at school lunch
Grandma teaches Moms for big crowd at school lunch
Amazing school garden, Angub Elementary, Capiz
Amazing school garden, Angub Elementary, Capiz
Moms and Dads serve school lunch
Moms and Dads serve school lunch
AAI School Library at Aurora-Araneta ES, Duenas
AAI School Library at Aurora-Araneta ES, Duenas
Girl Scout Jamboree in Batad, Iloilo
Girl Scout Jamboree in Batad, Iloilo
Cuartero Natl HS Championship badmitton team
Cuartero Natl HS Championship badmitton team
Celebrating Natl Teachers Day at Aurora-Araneta ES
Celebrating Natl Teachers Day at Aurora-Araneta ES

Links:

 
   

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