It has been a HOT productive, wonderful time in the Philippines working with the children and families who have invited us into partnering with them as they seek to build a new future with hope. In Upper Javier, the sewing center is being expanded and Alan Miller, our construction supervisor, is employing local labor, creating jobs and stretching the budget like only he can - he barters for every penny we spend to make it go as far as possible. The expanded sewing center will create more jobs for more community members and the construction is also employing and training community laborers in need of work. The pre-school has a new floor and our teacher, Ate Olive, is excited about school starting again- the parents are so grateful and contribute by keeping the building clean and preparing the meals that are served each day to the children - for some, the only real meal they have each day. Thanks to the generosity of our donors we have funded another full pre-school year with the Jessica's Table feeding program included. Bellaire United Methodist Church and St. Stephens United Methodist Church have been particularly generous in this regard. Thank you!
In Malis, we have three young people finishing college through Strings of Hope: Rosette is getting ready to take her teacher's licensing exams, Jenny is in her 3rd year toward a degree in education, and Jesusa is in her 4th year at Harris Memorial College. Rosette and Jenny are also supporting their families as their parents cannot find work.
Jessica's Table continues with 205 children regularly attending and registering and usually 300 children total attending each week. These children are receiving education and leadership training, as well as nutritional support.The young people from Malis who first participated in this program are now helping to lead it and the mothers and father's in Malis go early to the market to buy and prepare the food. It is a program fully lead by the community in which it was born. Because of our reputation in the community, we were also invited into the elementary school for the first time and were able to donate volley ball equipment as well as soccer balls, school supplies, and provide a nutritious meal for children that had not eaten all day - the government here offers public schooling but cannot provide meals, school supplies, uniforms or transportation.
I have been accompanied on this trip by Rev. Tori Butler and 5 youth from Bellaire United Methodist Church, Elizabeth from St. Stephens United Methodist Church (who is working in Upper Javier for 3 months as a volunteer) and Alan Miller from Memorial Drive United Methodist Church. We are so grateful for our faithful volunteers!