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Mar 12, 2019

One book, one pencil, one teacher, one child can change the world

Classroom spirit
Classroom spirit

"One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world," says Catig-Lacadon Elementary School Principal Mrs. Rowena... explaining how her small mountain-top school became a finalist for the most productive educational facility in Iloilo Province in the Visayas Region of the Philippines.  "It has taken years of consistent partnership effort and love shown to our pupils by Professor Santoli and Asia America Initiative and their kind donors from the United States and around the world," she states. "The beauty of AAI's programs is that they show equal consideration and respect to Christian, Muslim and Mountain Tribe Filipinos without any type of discrimination."

During the five years Asia America Initiative has been involved with schools like Catig-Lacadon, following  the most destructive typhoon in recorded history which nearly flattened the school's buildings, some amazing developments have occurred. The children of Catig-Lacadon are sons and daughters of impoverished agricultural workers who don't own the land they work, often planting corn used for animal feed straight up mountain sides. They often lack adequate food to feed their children more than one light meal per day. With the help of GlobalGiving donors, AAI has been providing facilities for clean rain water, daily lunches at no charge to students and cooked by mothers, hygiene soaps and dental supplies. In classrooms, more than 500 text books and fun story books have been provided. The academic performance of students has dramatically improved.

"After Super Typhoon Yolanda, our students and their parents are so surprised to to see foreigners such as AAI with their local partners come all the way to the Philippines to make sure we are safe and being taken care of," recalls Principal Rowena.

In the Philippines southernmost province, Sulu, in Muslim Mindanao, AAI has been in the schools since 2002 and has shared the hopes, dreams, fears and laughter of the local Muslim, Christian and sea gypsy [Samar] populations.  When intermittent conflicts end, AAI's mission is to help local communities get back to normal as soon as possible. Learning from our Visayas programs, AAI sponsored schools are provided with lunch to begin to heal wounds following any incident and bring the teachers and students back to school as a neutral "safe space." Christian and Muslim educators are close knit in Sulu and when AAI Muslims visit Visayas, similar bonds between teachers are created.

Teacher Tarhata is a 5th grade lead teacher in Jolo, Sulu, in a classroom of 52 pupils. Her first visit to AAI Visayas programs was in 2017. "When I first visited Visayas, I found the schools welcoming and very peaceful. I felt friendship. The Ilongo people there are really genuine and as fellow school teachers, we could see in their eyes that they are glad to be with us. They are proud to be partners with AAI in building and fulfilling their childrens' future, just as we feel in Sulu."

AAI programs now assist 25,000 children in elementary schools in Sulu and Visayas. These communities are overcoming extreme poverty, harsh climate conditions and communal violence through integrated literacy, livelihood skills, and health support. We have created a social media network between Muslim and Christian educators and children to share their new skills, hopes, and dreams. Mothers and fathers of pupils assist teachers to cook daily meals and improve school facilities. We provide thousands of books, school supplies, garden tools and fresh water systems.

We agree with Principal Rowena that, "Life is better when shared. Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver."

In 2019-20 school year, our goal is to double the number of children and school communities who benefit from these simple acts of shared love. Thank you GlobalGiving family for backing us!!

award winning students of catig lacadon
award winning students of catig lacadon
Catig Lacadon Elementary School
Catig Lacadon Elementary School
parents & teachers work together with AAI resource
parents & teachers work together with AAI resource
Students around AAI sponsored water tank
Students around AAI sponsored water tank
Catig Lacadon students say Thank You to donors
Catig Lacadon students say Thank You to donors
toys for student achievers at Catig Lacadon
toys for student achievers at Catig Lacadon
Summer Reading program in Sulu with AAI books
Summer Reading program in Sulu with AAI books

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Jan 22, 2019

Begin a New Year Assisting Child Cancer Patients and Their Families

Dear Supporters of AAI,

We are looking forward to a New Year of Hope supporting the children with cancer and families at the House of Hope! The cancer center is located at the Southern Mindanao Medical Center in the city of Davao in the Mindanao region of the Philippines. The special quality of this hospital is that it is the only such center providing life saving treatment for children free of charge in a population of 25 million in the southern Philippines.

In June, 2018, Asia America Initiative expanded its toy giving program at the House of Hope. Donations from our Global Giving donors, were used to provide toys and books shipped from the United States and to purchase more healing gifts from local markets. "These toys are gifts of love," says volunteer coordinator Mr. Pidot.  "Positive morale and confident attitudes are the catalysts for healing in children who suffer from life threatening diseases."

In 2019, our goal is to provide a toy and book to each child as they arrive for their hospital each day. Our active partner, One World Institute [OWI], emphasizes the integrated psychology in healing and the benefits of a child feeling loved.  Dr. Yolanda, founder of OWI, is a child education specialist. "Children are naturally hesitant and often afraid when they arrive  -- as are their families," she observes.  "A simple toy can make all the difference in the world to a young child.  A cuddly stuffed animal is a friend who can be a constant companion as they undergo treatment.  This creates an outlet for a child to express their fear and to feel loved in a more hopeful and comforting world. Also, with art and coloring books we create activities for the entire famly.  Parents feel the pain of their sickened child and also need the friendship and the ability to be involved in healing." 

Thus far, our program expansion has been a substantial success, with more toys and books arriving. We are planning a Valentine party in February.  In addition, we will be providing vitamins and other nutritional essentials to the children and families staying at the center.   More details to come!

Thank you again for your kindness!

We look forward to your continued support.  

Albert Santoli,

Director, Asia America Inititative

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Jan 16, 2019

Becoming the Change We Wish to See

In providing emergency and long term relief in the aftermath of the September 2018 Typhoon Mangkhut/ Omphong in the Mindoro area of the Philippines, Asia America Initiative continues to provide programs that have addressed both short-term and long-term relief and recovery.  We have listened carefully to our beneficiary communities and local NGO and community development sponsors to adapt our methods to make a difference in the midst of a major calamity.  In essence, we have applied the wisdom expressed in the statement:  "Be the change you wish to see."                                                                
 
With so many disasters and natural disasters and violence around the world, we have learned to prioritize tasks we could achieve and do much with limited funding. In addition to Global Giving donors' contributions, we pooled resources with local partner NGOs.  In December 2019, we received a grant from GlobalGiving's Disaster Relief program of $5,000 to multiply our resources and capabilities with partners and local community groups, including local government agencies and the Philippine National Police who were tasked with search and rescue in remote mountainous areas. 
Thanks to all of our extended Global Giving family, we have surpassed our target population in need by providing immediate food, water and plastic temporary shelter materials to more than 100 families in the remote tribal areas of Mindoro Province. These families are members of the indigenous Mangyan tribe who are among the most impoverished and underserved people in the Philippines.  We have assisted mountain tribal people in numerous natural disasters since Typhoon Haiyan in 2013/14.  Thus, we and our relief partners know the area well and the needs of the people who survive there.
 
In Typhoon Ompong calamity was built on natural disaster due to mudslides and rockslides that buried entire villages and destroyed one of our favorite elementary schools --  Mabini Elementary -- which serves some 350 children from surrounding villages. Due to the lack of roads and many streams and swollen creeks during the rainy season, the children must swim to school at times where not even rickety bridges exist.  We have provided these children with clothing, rubber sandals, school bags and books and classroom supplies, as well as woven mats and light blankets for their families to sleep on, and mosquito nets to prevent diseases such as malaria and dengue.  We have also provided vegetable seeds for small gardens to ensure their survival.  When our advance team reached Mabini village area after the storm, many children were naked because all of their belongings were washed away or buried in mud slides.
"It is a blessing that Asia America Initiative, has always addressed the most essential issues in consultation with village elders and never makes promises they cannot keep, says Dr. Yolanda Stern, "director of the One World Institute. "The healing they provide is rooted in friendship and trust. The Manyan children and their families respond to their sincere outreach of our informal but experienced coalition."
 
AAI's general support funds and the funds from Global Giving donors were used quickly on food, water and shelter and some light clothes. AAI also sent some stuffed toys and story books donated as gifts-in-kind by a few churches in the US.  In addition, we continue a daily feeding program for impoverished childen in highland elementary schools whose communities were battered by the storm. 
 
We are using $3,500 to help build an all-weather school and shelter from the storms, to replace the destroyed Mabini Elementary School.  We will use $500 to donate gift-in-kind textbooks for the school and, of course, additional stuffed toys to help with the children’s psychological recovery from the trauma caused by the wrath of Super Typhoon Ompong and the mudslides that followed. $1,000 is being used for much-needed hygiene soap, mosquito repellent to prevent malaria, and assorted seeds for small family gardens to help alleviate malnutrition. 
We thank you all for your generous support. 
 


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