For this update, we are posting a report from the International Development Volunteers (IDV), one of the many partner organizations that CANVAS works with, and who are crucial to bringing the books directly into the hands of children all over the Philippines.
Their report has been edited only for brevity and clarity.
Thank you, IDV! And as always, thank you to all of you! Your continuing generosity makes all these possible! :-)
With the incredible support of CANVAS and its donors IDV conducted its second book giving event for children affected by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). This event, which took place on September 9, 2015, was for children with developmental disabilities who attend the Aram Learning Studio.
The Aram Learning Studio is a school that caters for such children who are aged from 2 and a half to 18 years old. It is situated in the centre of Tacloban City. The studio was heavily damaged during the typhoon but IDV previously provided assistance to help it recover.
Children with developmental disabilities, such as autism, have sadly been underserved by relief organizations and the local government. Even before Yolanda parents did not get financial support to access the special education interventions that their children need.
Most of the kids are from lower middle to upper middle class families, but the cost of this specialised education can take up much of their monthly income. The Aram Studio does the best that it can do to support these children and their families.
Many of the children have severe attention difficulties and thus their parents often find it difficult to read to them. However, the staff at Aram have special training and experience to deal with the kids and work with the parents to help them become more able to cope.
It is for these reasons that we were keen to work with CANVAS to support these kids. The book giving provided an opportunity for the kids to not only receive a book, but also for the staff to highlight the importance of reading for the kids.
Due to the previously described attention deficit problems, it was decided not to give the books as a group, which could have been very difficult for both the kids and teachers.
Instead, each child was visited in their own learning cubicle. These cubicles allow the children to more easily focus on their individual activities without visual distractions from other children.
IDV’s project manager Siggy and the Aram Studio teachers went from cubicle to cubicle to distribute the books and spent some time with each child individually. The teachers used their expertise to help communicate with each child and encouraged the kids to articulate their thoughts.
Some of the kids were very shy of talking in front of Siggy, who they did not know well, but from their facial expressions it was clear that the kids were very happy with the book they received.
Siggy was also then senstive enough to put some distance between himself and the kids and to spend a little time just observing the kids reactions. Then the kids were more relaxed and many of them asked their teachers to read to them, or to help them read the books themselves.
This book giving event was definitely sometimes challenging, but overall the kids were very happy to receive their own books. The teachers also said that the event gave them more experience of how to deal with similar activities in the future.