The project breathes life!

This week has been a busy one, communications with our sponsors has given us hope that our project will bring changes and successes beyond our dreams.

A shipping company has agreed to provide free passage (donate the freight) of our Aid from Adelaide to Manila. This correlates well with the news that our request for additional aid from South Pacific School Aid was accepted.

Peter Kirk will coordinate the loading of a container with the resources we so desperately need. Our long wish list is apparently all possible. It is exhilarating to hear this after working hard to put the project together. When we first introduced the idea of a Literacy program it was just a pipe dream, an idea!.

Armed with ten boxes of school uniforms and books that I brought with me from Adelaide, courtesy of South Pacific School Aid, Nelia and I were adamant we could put a project together. We were sure we could put these resources to work, to be successful in helping some desperate, needy people. Gradually contact by contact we established a series of meetings with different groups.

While discussing our wishes with a member of Nelia’s family, we met with  member of the Philippine National  Police (PNP). The conversation started when we were asked what was our purpose and interests together here in the Philippines, we mentioned our interest in education and helping the most poverty, stricken people. A couple phone calls later we were overwhelmed when the Senator Ninoy Aquino PNP office offered to set up a project to assist the Manobo People.

We had found ways to bring our plan to a reality. It is very difficult to coordinate a project of this type in a country where funding and sponsorship are met like a foreign language…communication falls on deaf ears.

When you see the plight of the Manobo, a  proud yet needy people – it is difficult to “let go”. Tenaciously, Nelia and I put the pieces together and after just four short months we were attending the launching…our Literacy project was alive!

While the Literacy phase of the program is developing and the Manobo are acclimating to their new facilities, we are planning the health and hygiene module.

When we broached the idea of teaching the Manobo people to build permanent dwellings we were surprised with the response. They stated that this is their greatest need, in an area where the average annual rainfall is in excess of 1.5 metres, keeping dry when it rains is a major problem. I had queried why everything had a place on the wall, I understand now that when 2-4 centimetres of water is running across the living room that life is not so pleasant. When I mentioned my plan to build a compressed earth brick (CEB) press and that we planned to teach them to make bricks so we can teach them to build permannet “dry” dwellings there eyes welled with tears. The hard work all becomes simple when the need is met with this acceptance.

The teaching and training phase of CEB making and building a dwelling will start with the building of the Community Centre where we will conduct the training and education, set up our library and install computers. Between official training sessions the people will have time to stockpile bricks, ready for our building training sessions. As they learn their new trade we will set them tasks to build some dwellings. Firstly for the community leader and his family and then they will build their own homes one by one. This phase has limits as we require some cement to add to the earth bricks to make them waterproof, corrugated iron for roofing and the necessary fasteners. Timber is not a problem as there is adequate bamboo available to support the roof structure in the jungles.

I am hoping my emails to the major hardware companies around Adelaide will be fruitful in providing us with some “seconds” or damaged stock to help with the project. Another method of sealing the outer walls is to paint them, maybe we can collect part cans of paint and make a colourful cocktail of leftover paints to provide the resilience we seek.

We will be approaching schools and community groups to assist us in raising some funds and donations to make our project successful.

A project of this nature is very challenging, but it is amazing where offers of help spring from…I have regained my faith in modern man…he has not lost his sense of charity. It make Hope and Faith much closer to reality.

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