On April 24, 2015 the final eleven Bright Future Scholars who were supported by Asia America Initiative and our GlobalGiving donors graduated from Visayas State University in Leyte which was especially devastated by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. The purpose of the scholarship was to inspire the surrounding communities by the success of these undergraduate students whose families’ homes and livelihoods were destroyed by the epic storm. We were pleasantly impressed that there were five Cum Laude graduates among the Bright Future group.
Although we did not reach our full target of $24,000 for two years of tuition coverage for 27 to 40 students, AAI covered close to half of the amount needed. Three other partner organizations covered the remaining amount of funding needed for these youths to stay in school and graduate. And Visayas State University administrators provided full support for this program to succeed. AAI's intention was for these youths – whose parents are hardworking community members – to represent the willingness to achieve a college degree in practical, professional fields of study. This will enable these new graduates to find decent jobs and to help rebuild their communities over the long term.
Sharmaine graduated Cum Laude with a degree in Environmental Management. She says, "Our community has suffered great hardship and despair after Typhoon Yolanda. People have gotten more poor. Our role as scholars is to assist the community with the skills we have learned."
Another honors student, Leomar, graduated with a degree in Chemistry. "The scholarship inspired me to strive more," he states,” and to work harder to achieve greater heights in my field of study. I am so grateful to all of our benefactors who permitted myself and the other scholars the opportunity to go far in life."
"I now see a bright light in what had been a dark road," says Bonifacio who earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering and who was recognized as the most inspiring student by his graduating class because of the obstacles that he and his mother, who hand-washes clothes to support her son and elementary school daughter, have overcome. "We scholars are becoming role models to motivate the people that poverty is not an impossible hindrance to achieving success... as long as we have the desire accompanied with perseverance."
And with a little help from their friends at AAI and Global Giving, their dreams of education have been realized. Thank you all!!
In April 2015, the second batch of 11 Asia America Initiative/One World Institute college scholars will graduate from Eastern Visayas State University near Tacloban Philippines. All of the scholarship students had their lives disrupted by Typhoon Haiyan, which is considered by the United Nations as the largest Pacific-based storm ever recorded. As part of the recovery process, Asia America Initiative backed by GlobalGiving donors assured that 27 juniors and seniors would have their tuition and other fees paid for so they could complete their educations and assist with the rebuilding of their communities.
We welcome our extended community of donors to views a very joyful short video of the 2011 graduate ceremony of the first 16 scholars. It is a heart warming experience that is a testimony to the strength of our shared human spirits and the power of friendship. We congratulate the teachers and mentors at VSU for inspiring our students. And we thank all donors who helped to make this achievement possible.
Please use this link to AAI's web site where the video is located.
Following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in November 2013, thousands of college students in the Visayas region faced a life-altering dilemna: Their homes and families' savings were devastated by the massive destruction caused by the flooding, storm surge tsunamis and raging 200 mph winds. They were doubtful they could afford to pay tuition and fees for graduation. A consortium of non-profit organizations and philanthropists, including Asia America Initiative, formed a network to assure that at least 30 to 40 scholars at Visayas University in Leyte could overcome their families' misfortune and finish their targeted graduation on schedule. The scholastic achievements of the Bright Future Scholars would be a morale booster and symbol of hope for their home communities.
Thanks to a little help to AAI from Global Giving donors, we assisted some 20 scholars graduate in the Spring of 2014. As we enter 2015, another 11 Bright Future seniors -- 7 females and 4 males -- at VSU are entering their final semester to qualify for bachelor of Science Degrees in Agriculture/ Botany; Chemistry; Finance, Civil Engineering and School Teaching.
In the recent Global Giving "Haiyan Matching Fund" campaign, AAIraised close to $200 which will assist 3 of the scholars to cover the cost of their final examinations required for graduation. The three students will be earning Bachelor of Science degrees in Agriculture, Education and Civil Engineering. All of these fields are vital for the long term rebuilding of storm-damaged communities.
Dr. Yolanda Ortega Stern, an education and community economics specialist is President of One World Institute, a consortium partner in the Bright Future Scholars program, She says, "The achievement of the scholars has been an inspiration to their families ansd communities, which are largely agriculture based. The support from people they have never met has inspired everyone in the surrounding communities where the scholars live to keep their heads held high and keep up their efforts to persevere in the wake of the storm. We are very grateful to all of our donors who have enabled us to keep our promises and sustain this academic effort."
On behalf of the Bright Futures team members and beneficiaries, we send our sincere appreciation and wish many blessings and happiness to all of our contributors in the New Year!
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.
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