Bringing hope to 82,000 dreamers nationwide Caohagan

As we invest in various opportunities for personal growth, millions of Filipino families spend most of what they have on basic necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing. Worrying about survival everyday, the bottom 30 percent of the country’s population only has 2.3 percent of their income to expend for education, according to the 2015 Family Income and Expenditure Survey. Although they aspire and toil daily for a better life, they are faced with the reality that their dreams are but distant prospects.

Determined to provide underprivileged Filipino children with the school supplies they need to pursue a brighter future through education, integrated marketing communications firm TeamAsia and the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) spearheaded My Dream in a Shoebox.

Driven by its commitment to making an impact in the lives of the next generation, My Dream in a Shoebox was able to deliver 82,474 school supply packages to children from all over the Philippines for its 2017 campaign—well over its goal of collecting 75,000 shoeboxes. Kids were inspired to dream again as they received shoeboxes that bore not only school supplies but also a solid reassurance that others believe in their potential. Get a glimpse of the stories of these children from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Lanao del Sur, Mindanao

It was summer of last year when extremists laid siege to Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, which ended up in a five-month war that claimed lives, displaced residents, and reduced the city to ashes.

Families dispersed: others travelled to Manila to stay with relatives, some rented apartments within the province, and many sought refuge in relocation centers in neighboring cities. As for schooling, numerous institutions set up temporary satellite campuses. Public and private schools in Iligan City also accepted students to sit in, although language served as a barrier for many as the communities differ in their conversational dialects. Sadly, children from destitute families who suffered loss during the war did not have the means to continue their studies.

Seeking to help the students recover after the traumatic turn of events, My Dream in a Shoebox delivered more than 100 books and 1,000 school supply packages to relocated children through the efforts of DSM Manila LLP. Upon receiving the gifts, the kids were encouraged to use the art materials to express their thoughts and feelings as a way to help them cope with their experiences. Although their works reflected devastating images of the war, it also displayed hope in the form of pictures of their families and volunteers.

“Para silang mga batang inagawan ng kanilang kinabukasan dahil sa siege. But seeing their artworks, masasabi mo talaga na they have potential. Kailangan lang talaga nila ng guidance,” testified Settie Mutia-Magumpara, Administrative Officer III of the Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao (IPDM).

Ten thousand more shoeboxes with school supplies will be sent to Marawi in time for the upcoming school year, through the enablement of VXI Global Solutions, LLC and the Football for Humanity Foundation.

Cebu, Visayas

Popular for its breathtaking tourist destinations and exquisite furniture, Cebu is among the most developed provinces in the Philippines. However, there is also widespread poverty in both its urban and island communities.

Within metropolitan Cebu is Mandaue City, a rising business district frequently affected by flooding and garbage problems. It is home to families that live on scavenged food and belongings from the dumpsite in Barangay Umapad, which also serve as their residence. At a very young age, children in Umapad help out their parents in collecting and trading scrap plastics and metals to earn a living. Although public schools are available to them, many kids decide to skip education and dedicate their lives entirely to helping out their families.

A few miles away from Mandaue City is Caohagan, an islet part of the Olango group of islands. Near its pristine beaches live families that earn from small businesses, being separated from the metro by water. Primary and secondary schools are accessible to the island children but many discontinue afterwards because the institutions that offer the new K to 12 curriculum are located in the city. Dropout rates soared because of the extra amount that has to be paid for daily water transport required to get to the schools.

Poverty and lack of accessibility has shaped the mindset of kids concerning education. Sadly, they lose heart. Their circumstances have persuaded them that merely finishing primary school is enough. To encourage Cebuano kids to dream big, My Dream in a Shoebox partnered with the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation and Wipro Ltd. to bring school supply packages to 1,000 kids throughout the province. Moreover, the turnover of a school boat to an island community is currently being arranged to reduce the students’ daily transport expenses.

“We gave the school supplies to those who need it the most. Sila, kahit bigyan mo lang ng lapis na pudpod, they would love it, malaking bagay na sa kanila ‘yun.” said Ace Pierra Jr., Co-Lead Implementor of the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation’s Cebu Funds For Little Kids.

As an educational movement itself, the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation has connections to 25 communities throughout Cebu, who they assist via livelihood programs, infrastructure development, and boat provision. Through their support, My Dream in a Shoebox was able to reach not only Mandaue and Olango, but also San Remigio and five different communities within the metro.

Pampanga, Luzon

At the foot of the infamous Mt. Pinatubo live families belonging to the first known inhabitants of the archipelago: the Aetas. Maintaining components of their traditional culture, Aeta communities dwell in their ancestral forests and strive to live on its provisions. However, they are being compelled to shift their way of life as rapid urbanization slowly makes hunting and gathering more unsustainable by the day.

In pursuit of livelihood, some Aeta families travel to the city to find jobs, sell produce, or beg if left with no other choice. Parents encourage their children to study with the hopes of giving them a secure future. Fortunately, the government’s commitment to protecting and promoting the rights of indigenous people have driven the establishment of numerous educational facilities nearby.

But going to school is a daily battle for Aeta students. Aside from the challenge of poverty and arduous commutes, many of them experience discrimination among their peers from the city. Teased for their cultural identity, Aeta kids become disheartened to continue their studies.

Seeking to empower Aeta students to chase after their dreams, My Dream in a Shoebox delivered 100 school supply packages to their community in Porac, Pampanga through the assistance of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines, Inc.

These are only three of the 96 communities that were reached by My Dream in a Shoebox in its 2017 campaign, through the invaluable contributions of its partners (The Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, National Book Store, Res|Toe|Run, and Loc & Stor 24-7 Secure Self-Storage, among others), 28 shoebox and cash sponsors, 42 donors, and 589 volunteers. Since its inception in 2009, My Dream in a Shoebox has grown from only 200 shoeboxes, 100 volunteers, and one community into a nationwide movement of education advocates who passionately champion Filipino children’s right to dream.

Visit www.teamasia.com/shoeboxcampaign to know how you can be a part of the 2018 campaign.