If you think all of this is small beer, let me illustrate how this helps. There is not the state support that we enjoy in the UK. A year's school fees for the elementary school is about £4.50 (depending on currency fluctuations), and many children do not go to school because their parents cannot afford the fees. Even if they can afford these fees, they still have to find the money for a pencil, ballpoint pen and writing paper etc. Through the charity we currently pay for the school fees of more than 200 children per year. This year we gave school supplies (pencils, pens, paper, calculators) to students in each school, over 1,000 in total. And I think you’d agree, stopping the rain from leaking through the roof, or giving each class access to clean toilet facilities, is pretty worthwhile.
Then there was the time we were in a coffee shop and the young waitress asked if we remembered her. In truth we said no and she told us she had been a student at the Botao schools. She told us her parents were poor, she had many brothers and sisters and her folks couldn’t afford to send her to school any longer. Then she had won one of our scholarships and this enabled her to finish her High School education. With that qualification she was able to get this job as a waitress and she told us she was now saving to go to college. As she explained, had she not got that scholarship she would have left school at 12 years old, uneducated, unable to get good employment and probably ended up washing bottles in a local factory for a few pennies a day. Now she was going to study to be a teacher!
So the contributions we receive make a direct impact on the lives of the parents and children of our local village, Botao.
At the same time, malnutrition is a factor for some families, again due to poverty in the local area. The Barangay (village) Health Workers visit the families and identify children as individual cases. These are then introduced into a feeding programme, which supplies additional nutrients into a basic diet. We do not spend charity money on food, but we have helped to supply the Barangay Health Workers with medical equipment to assist them in their work. We have made small tables and benches for the children to sit at while eating, as well as purchased cooking equipment, feeding bowls and cutlery etc. for the feeding programme. This all helps to keep the children at our schools healthy. We have also now built a small clinic so that the dentist and health workers have somewhere clean and tidy to tend to the children. We are currently upgrading a basic canteen, and will make further improvements to catering as funds allow.