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Oct 13, 2014

School Gardens and Nutrition in Typhoon Areas

AAI waterpipe: handwashing mandatory, all students
AAI waterpipe: handwashing mandatory, all students

The greatest challenge one year after typhoon Haiyan is that hundreds of communities are still severely damaged.  Food and shelter is still desperately lacking.  And illnesses caused by lack of clean water and malnutrition is rampant in countless schools.  Asia America Initiative has mobilized local communities as partners to provide resilient and long-term clean water, nutrition, gardening, school books and supplies and rubber sandals for children who must walk 2 or three miles to school each day.

One of Asia America Initiative's model schools and communities is the Bulak Elementary School in Batad Iloilo, a farming and fishing community, which was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan one year ago. Our goal for the school's 300 children to assist their parents and teachers rebuild and create lasting solutions for the most essential needs of the children through the end of the 2014-15 school year.  

 At Bulak Elementary School in Batad, 6th grade teacher Maria Joseta Peregil, says:               

“Ours is a farming community where most families live by a ‘hand-to-mouth’ existence.  Every day, we witness the struggles of our pupils. Many of them go to school wearing worn-out rubber sandals and clothes. Their worn-out school bags have insufficient school supplies. Some walk three to four kilometers to school without eating their breakfast.  This situation make them difficult to teach because often our pupils are restless and noisy. As teachers we do our best to help them.  We even take what little funds we have from our own pocket to reach out but we cannot afford that much. We have our own struggles too, trying to ‘make both ends met’ with our meager salary.”

These children are met with insufficiency in every essential need.  At home, there’s not enough food to eat and no decent clothes to wear.  In school, students lack basic facilities such as access to water, toilets, windows and ventilation in classrooms, and few school books.  When Typhoon Yolanda struck our community and destroyed our homes and school, the children were even more deprived of the little they had. We did not believe there were people out there who were loving and caring enough to share with us.

We were surprised to find that there are still many kind-hearted people around the world who care.  But charitable foundations come and go to give relief goods and shelter.  Their help only lasted for a while.  What we need is a sustainable program to help us rebuild our lives, if only for a year to help us gain strength and fully recover from the tragedy.

God is really good.  Asia America Initiative (AAI) came unannounced and gave us books, rubber sandals, school supplies and tents which makes our pupils very happy.  AAI President Albert Santoli required the whole community to work together to make the programs strong and to share our resources in support of each other.  It made the children feel the LOVE and CARE necessary to overcome the trauma of the tsunami and broken lives (aside from their parents and teachers).  It helped them regain their dignity, self-confidence, and trust. The donated textbooks enhanced their interest in reading and learning.  Their new sandals protect their feet and make them look neat and presentable. Among all these efforts by AAI, it is the Daily Feeding Program cooked by school mothers, which motivates the children to go to school every day. For the children, school is now the best place to dwell because they learn and are hungry no more. Even we teachers are happy because we can also eat and don’t teach with hungry stomachs anymore.  Pupils’ absences have been minimized.  The parents are inspired to be more diligent and cooperative in all activities of the school especially in cooking for their children.

We asked for a little LOVE and a chance to regain our dignity, but we received much, much more through AAI listening and making sure the children’s plea, and wishes for a normal life without hunger, sickness and fear were granted.

On the wall of the main classroom building, which is still damaged from the tsunami wave and wind that turned reinforced steel stone buildings into bent and twisted ruins, are two big cardboard sign with the picture of a rubber sandal -- the new symbol of hope.  One sign celebrates the community's partnership with Asia America Initiative.  The other sign includes the words "Thank You Global Giving." 

Outdoor school kitchen, cooked by moms
Outdoor school kitchen, cooked by moms
Big cooking pots bought by AAI for school
Big cooking pots bought by AAI for school
Dads help serve school lunch too!
Dads help serve school lunch too!
Children learn good hygiene/handwash before lunch
Children learn good hygiene/handwash before lunch
Providing rubber sandals to every school child
Providing rubber sandals to every school child
Bulak students thank Global Giving for sandal fund
Bulak students thank Global Giving for sandal fund

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Oct 13, 2014

New Life for Women,Children with Rare Diseases

October 2014:  Pauline, age 9,  receives care
October 2014: Pauline, age 9, receives care

In October, 2014, at Philippine General Hospital in Manila, doctors and nurses from the National Institutes of Health [NIH] under the authority of the Philippine Department of Health began Stage 2 of Asia America Initiative’s Art of Hope and Program for Women and Children afflicted by cancer and rare genetic diseases such as Gaucher Disease and Pompe Disease.  Without proper treatment, women with breast and other cancers have no chance of survival and the rare genetic diseases usually cause the death of children by the age of 7.   

With your help, we have been able to help answer the prayers of the patients and their families  – almost all of whom are under the poverty line and unable to afford the cost of such treatment -- by providing “gifts of life” without charging them fees beyond normal outpatient costs. This is made possible by an incredibly generous pharmaceutical company who specializes in rare diseases and anti-cancer organizations in the United States and Germany.  Donations from Global Giving donors permit us to purchase light medicines to neutralize side effects caused by the powerful medicines. 

In Spring 2009, AAI President Albert Santoli started Stage One of this program, and by late summer it was supported by Global Giving.  All 20 children in Stage One are now cancer-free.  Out of 30 women with breast cancer, according to the Philippine Cancer Society, 27 are now in remission.  And after 5 years, 7 out of 8 children with rare and deadly genetic diseases which affects their liver and kidney functions, are otherwise healthy and strong.  In September and October, 2014 genetics medicines needed to cover the next 6 months of steady treatment for all of these children was coordinated and shipped to the Philippines by AAI, in partnership with the Philippines Secretary of Health Enrique Ona, MD, the NIH and our pharmaceutical donors. 

The past two years medicines for children's cancers such as Lymphoma and Leukemia have been extremely difficult to acquire.  Donations of adult-related cancers have also been difficult to obtain.  However, in late September 2014, AAI shipped 50,000 tablets of an anti-breast cancer medicine called Letrizole for use in the Breast Cancer center at Philippines General Hospital, the main Department of Health public hospital in the Philippines. Philippine General Hospital cancers to hundreds of women per year who suffer from breast cancer.  These medicines will be used for patients at or below the poverty line with no cost to them or their families.  Funds from Global Giving donors will also be used for light anti-side effect and nausea medicines and much needed vitamins and other nutritional support of patients.

Dr. Maryanne Chiong, MD, a Clinical Geneticist and lead doctor of such diseases at the National Institutes of Health in Manila has expressed her profound gratitude to AAI and our donors, including those from Global Giving.  “We have never imagined such generosity, especially from new friends to our country from across the world, who have made it possible for us to keep these women and children alive.  Without regularly scheduled doses of these very rare medicines, the children could not survive.  We wish many blessings for all who have contributed.  They should know that they have a profound place in all of our hearts.”

15 year old genetic medicine patient going strong
15 year old genetic medicine patient going strong
Little Pauline in 2011 "end stage" genetic disease
Little Pauline in 2011 "end stage" genetic disease
AAI coordinates donated meds as "gift of life
AAI coordinates donated meds as "gift of life
Wonderful medical care at Philippine Gen. Hospital
Wonderful medical care at Philippine Gen. Hospital
Cancer and Genetic Specialists supported by AAI
Cancer and Genetic Specialists supported by AAI

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Sep 23, 2014

Mission accomplished: Thanks to Our Donors

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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