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.
Oct 20, 2015

Learning from Failure: Adapting to Opportunity

Building faith for recovery thru loving care
Building faith for recovery thru loving care

LEANING FROM FAILURE: ADAPTING TO OPPOTUNITY.  One of the most fulfilling results of the Asia America Initiave Program to support children with cancer and life threatening diseases in the Philippines is how we have become more effective with modest funds and now support four times the original number of childen. The roots of our success were motivated by the fear of impending failure. Since 2011, with the help of Global Giving donors we have aided the recovery of 49 out of 50 women and children who struggled in dire poverty to be healed from cancer by helping to provide medicines and art supplies to instill a positive attitude foir recovery.

The program:suddenly changed in 2013 when all charitable organizations dedicated to fighting lymphoma and leukenmia could not find donations of medicines. We  were still assisting  ten childen who were born with terminal rare genetic illnesses. if they do not receive monthly genetic replacement medical injections they will perish. And due to local bureaucratic and corruption issues the genetic medicines were becoming harder to get past the Customs "brokers." and kickbacks can be a major obstacle. We were crushed with the fear of impending failure which could lead to the death of some wonderful and hopeful kids. 

For the sake of these children, my staff and I were determined not to fail.. even if we didn't know what we could do.  Giving up was not an option. In my own experience as a cancer and life-threatening immune disease survivor I had endured emergency surgery, a stroke and a broken artery, . I was not expected by some doctors to live past 2009.  But the angels of health had other ideas, in part because I loved these cancer and rare diseases stricken kids who depended on my survival.  I also had the benefit of understanding that in order to recover, a patient needs strong faith and effective chemo-therapy along with proper nutrition and a positive attitude. Feeling  love from family and friends is also essential.  So we created a new plan of action and tried to find where WE were failing. We had to calmly evaluate and take advantage of what would be possible to save these childen.  Being angry or feeling sorry for ourselves was not allowed.  Instead, we created an action plan: 

Partners:  We were inspired by being accepted into the Global Giving community.  Some longstanding donors had left us because they thought I was "dead man walking,"  Global Giving showed me that good hearted ordinary people would support us with modest donations to compensate for the loss of larger grants. Yes, it was more work to prepare donor campaigns, but the resulting generosity was worth the effort. And we always ask our program partners for their inputs and lessons learned.

Alernative Health Resources: We placed a heavier emphasis on vitamin supplements and nutritional support that would counter the effects of chemotherapy and strengthen young bodies' reistance to fight back against disease.  In addition, we used  Global Gioving donations to buy emergency medicines and pay for blood tests.  And we reached out to willing partners to supplement medicines that we could not find.  Humility and Egolessness is key -- share the credit and publicity.

Don't Be Shy to Reach Out:  To overcome issues of corruption and bureaucratic obstinacy, we reached out to influential private and government sector officials to help us cut through "red tape." To recover from terminal illness requires low stress, thus I learned the "humanitarian ninja" techiniques of how to fight without anger and transform heavy emotion into positive energetic efforts in defense of our beneficiaries.  This positive attitude attracted powerful officials to respect and assist our efforts.

In addition, we developed private - public partnership with wonderful doctors, caretakers and pharmaceutical wholeslers and retailers to stretch every dollar contributed by our Global Giving family of donors.  There is no such thing as "too small" a donation if it is budgeted properly. We always tell the kids that they have many people who they have never met who love them and value their lives --  all ten of the original rare disease children from 2009 are still alive and growing strong.  We now are helping our partner Philippine Society of Orphan Disorders and the governmental National Institutes of Health to provide monthly nutrition and medical supplies for more than 200 children each month. Sometimes we have to accept there are situations that we  can't control or change.  However, it is also true that sometimes small miracles can happen.  

Special children with their Grandma at PSOD
Special children with their Grandma at PSOD
why we can
why we can't give up
Art therapy
Art therapy
AAI  monthly nutrition supplements
AAI monthly nutrition supplements
Special child with AAI nutritional supplements
Special child with AAI nutritional supplements

Links:

Oct 5, 2015

Standing for Peace Without Prejudice or Fear

Angels on Parade in Indanan
Angels on Parade in Indanan

 

In life we find that sometimes communities or individuals who seem to have no chance to succeed because of an impoverished or life-threatening environment end up doing incredible achievements.  The southern Philippines is such a place, especially in Duenas, Visayas where landless farm laborers were devastated by a Noah’s Ark type of typhoon in 2013 which destroyed many homes and schools.   In Visayas region, tens of thousands of families remain without adequate homes. Malnutrition is rampant among children who attend schools where the classroom chairs and roofs, sanitation and textbooks were largely destroyed. Today, governmental support is scarce and most foreign charity groups have already departed. Fortunately, Asia America Initiative values hard-working partnership above sympathy. 

In southwest Muslim areas of Mindanao, there is an ongoing prevalence of armed conflict and shootouts between the army and kidnap gangs and feared meth-amphetamine dealers supplied by the Chinese military and local criminal gangs creates a climate of fear.  Sulu Province is rated by the United Nation and Philippine government as the most underdeveloped area of the Philippines and at the bottom of the international human development index.  Despite the very real jeopardy, Christians such as the priests, brothers and nuns at Notre Dame College and the inter-faith Asia America Initiative are considered as partners in development by most Sulu Muslims. 

The schools are our neutral “peace” zones and form the basis of our ‘Youth Spark” campaign to unite Christians and Muslims through education.  Thanks to Global Giving donors and some matching from Microsoft we consistently help feed and provide clean water to more than 30,000 children combined in the Duenas area of Visayas and the Sulu area of Mindanao.  We are eliminating malnutrition and helping to reduce disease through clean water programs.

In August-September 2015, I made a working visit to both regions to conduct unity and oversite activities and to touch base with my dear friends, no matter their religion or language.  The night before I traveled to Sulu, a schoolteacher called and had me listen to the very clear sound of artillery explosions not far from her home.  She asked, “Are you sure you want to come here now?” I responded, “If a friend is not with his friends when times are difficult, then how can any of us stand against the darkness.”

Please see the attached pictures which speak thousands of words about my visit and our progress based in full community partnership with teachers and parents. Last week all 11 elementary schools in Indanan district, which is among the most feared due to kidnap gangs and some armed extremists, stood up against the darkness by conducting a three-day outdoor music, dance, academic and sports festival.  They defied evil through the joy of learning and performing positive competitions.  AAI receives no support from any government at this time.  None of this could be done without the support of our extended community of donors. 

Rural Timbangan Elementary School, is one of AAI’s 20  Models of Excellence schools in Sulu Province.  After a morning-long library and school textbook distribution, I boarded the crowded mid-day ferry boat for the 5 hour ride on the Sulu-Celebes Sea to Zamboanga.  A delegation of school principals, teachers and nurses extended their Salams and other statements of friendship.

As I boarded on the wobbly wooden plank, carrying a bag full of fresh tropical fruits, I was handed a heartfelt thank you card from Head Nurse Jubalya Damlan of Timbangan Elementary.  “You are angels that answered our prayers,” she wrote.   “The needs of our school children are now in reach thanks to you.  We believe our dreams for them nearly may be coming true because of your support.   We will never forget you throughout our lives.  Thank you so much!!"

Majorettes for peace and unity, Indanan
Majorettes for peace and unity, Indanan
School officials & Elementary principals march
School officials & Elementary principals march
Moms pushing decorative floats with their children
Moms pushing decorative floats with their children
Moms cook lunch at Sheikh Mustafa Elementary
Moms cook lunch at Sheikh Mustafa Elementary
overcoming malnutrition w/ home cooking in schools
overcoming malnutrition w/ home cooking in schools
School hygiene with support from AAI and community
School hygiene with support from AAI and community
walking the robot  in culture and sports parade
walking the robot in culture and sports parade
AAI books and school supplies for Sulu schools
AAI books and school supplies for Sulu schools
School garden assists daily school feeding program
School garden assists daily school feeding program
thank you note from Grade 4 student in Duenas
thank you note from Grade 4 student in Duenas

Links:

Sep 25, 2015

Feeding 1000 child storm survivors for $200 a day

In the storm ravaged areas of central Philippines, close to 500,000 people, predominantly infants, children and youth, remain displaced by the destruction of their homes, schools and community livelihood systems during the November 13, 2013 super-typhoon Haiyan [named Yolanda in the Philippines.] The impact on children includes rampant waterborne diseases and widespread malnutrition.  Most international charities that made up for slack government recovery operations have now transferred to areas of the world with new cataclysmic refugee and internally displaced persons [IDPs] crises.  Asia America Initiative (AAI)has continued our work on a very modest budget thanks to the hard work and partnership of local community members and public school teachers.  On the island of Panay, which includes Iloilo and Capiz provinces, AAI continues to feed close to provide water and food assistance to ten schools with close to 3,000 pupils at 20 cents [US] per student per day.  

In many situations around the world, no matter how many people remain in dire need sustainable aid is precarious. Usually following a flood, an earthquake or an armed conflict, funding support from politically expedient governments and the kind-hearted donor bases usually dries up in  6 to 12  months after the most dramatic images vanish from the media spotlight.  Two key factors we have learned to sustaining aid in international humanitarian crisis have been strongly supported by Global Giving’s corporate and private donors. First, is the need for consistent oversite and reporting by local implementing personnel and groups. Second, is to tightly budget all grants and donations and encourage local self-sustaining fund raising by credible institutions such as churches and schools and civic organizations.

We emphasize communitydignity, especially among hard-hit families.  We request of school leaders and PTA parents that they at least perform necessary labor for rebuilding homes and schools, as well as improving nutrition for malnourished children through lunches cooked by parents, and families can grow nutritious vegetables and fruits in home or school-based gardens where AAI assists with gardening tools, additional seeds and irrigation.  With those “wheels in motion”  it is more possible to assistance growing programs for a necessary 12 to 36 month period of reconstruction and health infrastructure, as well as emotional trauma recovery. 

In August 2015, Project Leader Albert Santoli made an oversite and assessment visit to AAI programs in the Visayas region. He witnessed first-hand the impact of the ongoing hygiene and nutrition programs. Hundreds of children at many schools presented Director Santoli with hand drawn cards thanking AAI and our international donors for their support. The cards were heart-felt and amazingly cute with colorful crayon-drawn care-bears, happy dinosaurs, flowers of all colors, hearts with smiley faces.  Here are some of the children’s comments [their grammar unedited]:

“Thank you for giving so many books and many school supplies and many children are very happy.  Because in afternoons students come library and read books.”  Arlyn P, Grade 6

 “Thank you for the school bags, rubber slippers, books, seeds, toothbrushes, lunches and many more.  Thank you for your kindness.  May the Good Lord bless you with with good health.  GOD BLESS YOU!!”  - Cheerie Tina B, Grade 5

"Thank you very much for giving support to us students at Auroira Areaneta Memorial Elementary especially the books that we learn to read things every day to finish our studies…” –Jona P, Grade 4

“Thank you very much for the school supplies, food and clean water, and books we read every day. Many children need your help. Many teachers, classmates and my best friend is very happy. You are an inspiration for me.  I will always remember you. God love you.” – Trixie B., Grade 3

“Thank you for giving the food to my classmates and other children in our school Catig-Lacadon.  Thank you for the many beautiful things you give the children. I love you and will always remember you.”  – Juna Lyn, Grade 5.

“Thank for the school supplies,, school bags, feeding program, tooth paste, tooth brush, pencils, notebooks and other things.  Thank you so much.  We Love You.”  --  Rhyleen ., Grade 4

Moms cooking colorful fresh veggie soup
Moms cooking colorful fresh veggie soup
school garden with flowers and veggies Catig
school garden with flowers and veggies Catig
A 4th grade pupil tends soy beans in school garden
A 4th grade pupil tends soy beans in school garden
sports champions at Bulak ES overcame hunger
sports champions at Bulak ES overcame hunger
Cuartero HS District sports champs
Cuartero HS District sports champs
AAI Dir. Santoli with Catig Lacdon ES community
AAI Dir. Santoli with Catig Lacdon ES community
Award winning students have overcome hunger
Award winning students have overcome hunger

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