Sixty-three children from age three to six years, in the very poor community of Don Manuel village in Barangay Balingasa, Quezon City, whose parents can hardly afford to give them their daily food and certainly cannot pay for their kindergarten training, are enrolled in SIBOL Pre-Elementary School receiving preparatory education, gratis et amore.
Among these children are Michael Angelo, Cristine Joyce and Kim Kurtlyn Rose.
Children Of Don Manuel Village
Cynthia And Orquidia Distributing Merienda Packages To Children
Michael Angelo D. Dosal
Michael Angelo D. Dosal is six years old, abandoned by the father at an early age and whose mother died after a lingering illness because she cannot afford to buy the needed medicine. Michael and his brother and sister are now under the care of their grandmother who she is sickly and very poor. Their house has no electricity. They survive on the charity of [endteaser]their relatives and a few caring people.
Cristine Joyce Quirante is seven years old but quite small for her age. She is malnourished and sickly. She is one of the four children of a family where the father has no permanent job and the mother is a laundrywoman. Cristine’s family live together with the
Kim Kurtlyn Rose L. Villanueva
other married siblings of her parents and their children under one roof, her grandmother’s house.
Kim Kurtlyn Rose L. Villanueva like Cristine is small for her age and sickly because she is undernourished. Her father, too, has no permanent job and her mother is sick. Kim lives in a small and dingy house without electricity. For cooking, charcoal is used because her parents cannot even afford to buy cooking gas.
Cristine Joyce Quirante
Through Gawad Kalinga’s SIBOL Child and Youth Development Program, the children of poverty-stricken families in Don Manuel Village are able to avail of pre-school education. Pre-school education is a government requirement before a child can start Grade I in the elementary school.
Together with Cynthia R. Valenzuela of St. Theresa’s College Quezon City High School ‘70 (STCQCHS’70) Foundation which adopted the SIBOL program as its beneficiary for the school year 2008-09, we visited the children in their classroom. The classroom is in the third floor of the Cong. Rey Calalay Hall located at the village’s main square which is used for community meetings.
L-R 2 Volunteer Workers, Nanacy Amantillo, Minda Barcelo, Orquidia Valenzuela, Cynthia R. Valenzuela, Christian Dicioco And Romy Gutierrez
Having A Chat With One Of The Children
Gawad Kalinga project director Chris Dicioco with the help of some persons from Couples for Christ converted the room into a makeshift classroom. But, classes are suspended when the room is being used for a meeting.
The children squat during their lesson, the materials for teaching are limited and many times the teachers have to improvise. Their blackboard is too old, by western standard no longer usable, there is no cabinet to keep the school materials and no table for the children’s use when they eat.
There is no lavatory, and instead in one corner of the room is a makeshift CR…bucket, half-filled with water. A kind-hearted person, noticing the hygienic problem donated lavatory bowls for the children’s use. But to this date, the teachers and pupils are still waiting for the required government approval (Permit) to install them.
A Makeshift CR Being Used By One Of The Children
Classroom's Makeshift CR A Bucket Half-filled With Water
Each child was given one uniform, a donation to SIBOL project. Every day after school the uniform has to be laundered so the child can wear it the following day. Once a week the children are treated to an adobo lunch in school, courtesy of STCQC’HS’70.
The two teachers of the Program, Minda Barcelo and Nancy Amantillo are dedicating their services to the improvement of the children’s life. They attend seminars and workshops where they learn to design their curriculum and adopt it to the needs of the school and at the same time maintain a high standard of teaching. They solicit financial help from barangay captain and councilors for materials and equipment needed for the school. Many times, they have to use their own resources in order to continue giving the children the needed training and education.
Minda said, “These children whose lives were reduced to misery and helplessness possess nothing not even a few cents to spare for a candy. There are times they come to school having no shoes and no breakfast….I have to win them not only from poverty but also from corrupt environment to which they are constantly exposed once they go home from school. This pushes me to teach them the best I can, educating them with Christian moral values as SIBOL Program has endorsed.”
During our visit, we brought drinks and cakes for the kids. Their way of expressing their appreciation was to hug and embrace us. One boy put his lemonade in his bag, most probably his classmates said to share it with his other siblings. After drinking their lemonade, they queued waiting for their turn to use their portable “lavatory” which was in one corner of the room.
We were emotionally moved as we watched the children and listened to their “stories.” They talked spontaneously and vibrantly. Confidence-building is part of their teaching, according to Minda.
The parents of the children are cooperating to keep the school clean and doing other jobs for the children and their school.
Main Square With Cong. Rey Calalay Hall Building At The Left
Entrance To Don Manuel Village
Doing The Cooking At The Alley
Don Manuel village where the children’s families and others live can be reached from the main street by foot through a narrow passage along long rows of houses. Gawad Kalinga has constructed 76 houses for the very poor families in this village.
The village is so congested that there is no possible escape when there is a fire. A mother narrated that one time when there was a fire, no firemen came to their rescue and all they could do was throw pails of water into the burning houses and bring the image of the Virgin Mary to the fire site. Together, they were able to stop the fire from spreading further.
Typical Unit Main Door
Typical Unit Kitchen
Typical Unit Bedroom
Two meters away from the children’s playground which is a small rectangular place is an estero that stinks because it serves as an outlet of nearby factories. Its water is reddish-brown. At the time, the playground cannot be used because reinforcing steel bars which will be used for a construction project nearby were placed there.
Before the start of the school year 2008-09, the SIBOL Program was already experiencing difficulty in continuing the project due to lack of funding. The program manager assisted by GK leaders Christian Dicioco and Romy Gutierrez and the Educational Foundation Inc. coordinators were doing all they can to stretch the budget.
The continuity of SIBOL program till the end of the school year was assured when financial help came from STCQCHS’70 and a Dutch couple from Ijsselstein, the Netherlands. The morale of the volunteers and teachers was bolstered. The monthly wage of the two teachers which was P3,500 each was raised to P5,000. (+ P 61 = € 1)
Since it was established in 2002 in the poor community of Don Manuel, 200 children have graduated from the pre-elementary school education. Eighty seven percent managed to continue elementary education in nearby public schools, seven percent continued in the province, two percent went to YAKAP and about two percent went to private schools.
Children At Play
Doing The Laundry
SIBOL Program aims to expand the number of classes to three, one in the morning, another in the afternoon and the third late in the afternoon. This means more children to receive gratis pre-elementary education. Without SIBOL it is unlikely that the children of the very poor families in Don Manuel will have access to a free pre-school education.
Nancy has grown to love her work, she confided…”When I started teaching in SIBOL I said to myself I can’t do it and I can’t stay for long. A couple of weeks had passed, I noticed that I’m starting to enjoy and love my work. I realized that I have loved teaching children especially those who are poor.”
The volunteer workers and the teachers of SIBOL program are rewarded when they get news about the children who attended the SIBOL class the last five years. The children are the living testimonies of the success of the pre-education program.
A single parent proudly stated, “Ang aking si Mario na nag-aral noong 2004 sa SIBOL ay natutong magsulat, bumanggit ng alpabeto at sumagot sa math sa edad na 5 taon. Nagpapasalamat ako sa SIBOL, maski punit-punit ang kanyang uniporme at nakasinelas lang ay tinatanggap siya sa paaralan. Ngayon, mabilis siyang nakasasagot sa English sa Grade 2. Mapagmahal siya sa anim na kapatid niya, sa akin at sa mga kaibigan niya”. (My Mario studied in 2004 in Sibol and learnt writing, the alphabet and can answer Math problems at 5 years old. I thank SIBOL, that although he went to school in worn-out clothes and only in slippers, he was accepted. Now, he is in Grade 2 and can quickly answer in English. He is affectionate to us, his siblings and his friends.)
A mother has this to say on SIBOL: “Doon nagsimula ang anak kong gumuhit, magsulat, magbasa at natutunan ang iba’t ibang bagay, kabutihang asal, at pagkilala sa Diyos. Parang hagdan ang pagtuturo nina teacher Minda at teacher Nancy. Nagsimula sa maliit hanggang sa lumaki. Nasa ikatlong baitang na ang anak ko at marunong nang bumasa ng English. Lagi nyang dala-dala ang mga natutunan niya. Salamat sa SIBOL”. (There (in SIBOL class) my child started drawing, writing, reading and learning many things like good manners and knowledge of God. Minda and Nancy’s teaching method is like (climbing) a ladder, starting from the lowest to the highest. My child is now in Grade III and can read English. He carries with him always the things he learnt. Thank you SIBOL.)
Another mother boasts of her child’s achievement, “Di siya nawawala sa section 1 o 2, sa elementary. Sa Grade 5, di na siya nagpapatutro sa amin sa assignment. Sa Math, lagi siyang perfect…” (He is always in section 1 or 2 in the elementary. When he reached Grade V he did not ask us to help him in his assignments. In Math, he gets always perfect score.)
USD 3840 (Euro 3000) needed for school year 2009-2010
The people behind SIBOL pledge to continue helping the children in Don Manuel GK Village but, they cannot continue with the work if the amount of Php180,000 (roughly Euro 3000 or US$ 3840 ) for school supplies, teaching materials and equipments, school children’s needs, and wages for two teachers is not raised for the coming school year 2009-10.
To this date, there is no certainty if SIBOL program for the school year 2009-10 can continue. The principal sponsors cannot pledge support because they have other financial commitments.
Children’s uniforms for school year 2009-2010 will be donated by STCQCHS’70 foundation.
Information and queries about the SIBOL Pre-Education Program can be sent to Munting Nayon News Magazine: (email email@example.com )which will be forwarded to the SIBOL Program coordinators in Manila.
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