The Philippines continues to have a very high birth-rate because of the Roman Catholic Church’s opposition to birth control. As a result of this many families struggle to provide for the needs of their children. Added to this problem, is the fact many adults (especially the ladies) have to go abroad to look for work. Therefore, many children grow up without the care of a mother.
Lack of money and lack of parental guidance has resulted in a many out-of-school youths, many unwanted pregnancies, teenage marriages and juvenile delinquents.
A year ago, Goducate decided to start weekend camps for Filipino youths in the island of Panay. Groups of about 100 youths from poor villages were invited to join these weekend camps – where they attended teaching sessions, played games and made new friends. The result of these camps was remarkable. Parents noticed visible changes in the behaviour of their kids. And the kids clamoured to join subsequent camps. However, due to the lack of camp facilities and funds it was not possible to invite these youths to follow-up camps.
At about the same time when we started experimenting with youth camps, a Singaporean who presently resides in Brisbane, Australia asked me how he could help. I suggested to him that it was a good thing to help the poor youths of Philippines and he readily gave a generous check – which was then used as the down-payment for a 6 hectare piece of land in Alimodian, Iloilo Province, Philippines.
The owner of this land, Mrs Gonzales, was a poor single mum who ran a market-stall selling vegetables. Later she became a successful wholesaler of mangoes. With the profits of her business, she bought this piece of land many years ago. It was a beautiful piece of flat land surrounded by hills. On the flat land are 2 springs of water, which do not ever stop flowing. Each weekend, she and her children would go to this piece of land to plant mahogany trees, fruit trees and bamboo on the slope of the hills. The flat land was cultivated with rice.
I had the privilege of meeting Mrs Gonzales through mutual friends. When she heard that we were looking for land to build a camp, she offered her land at a very good price.
A camp committee is presently looking at how we can best develop this land so that poor youths can have the chance to learn many useful lessons and skills.
The cost to develop this large piece of land is beyond our present resources.
The possibilities are mind-boggling.
The number and needs of Filipino youth is scary.
But we must do our best to help them – before it is too late!
More photos (click thumbnail to view photos):
Dr. Paul Yew Hua Choo is the founder and chairman of Goducate Limited, a Singapore-based not-for-profit organization with projects in nine Asian countries that include China, Cambodia, Malaysia, Mynmar, India… Continue reading
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