You could say that it started with a sigh of restlessness that resonated amongst my peers. There was a certain fatigue from the mundane living of daily routine coupled with an inner desire to do something meaningful, something larger than ourselves.
It was with this seedling of aspiration that my friends and I decided to proactively engage ourselves by purposefully adopting an outward looking approach with our resources this year – and we didn’t need to look far. Through Goducate, we were presented with the opportunity to be a project partner in their community outreach effort at Laguna, Philippines – a work that we decided to check out for ourselves before fully committing.
In total, 13 of us went to Laguna over the long (Hari Raya Puasa) weekend in September just past. Our primary objective was to personally see the on-going Goducate work so as to gain a better understanding of (and emotional connection with) the actual physical needs, thereby enabling us to assess how we could more effectively contribute towards this cause.
Ours was a diverse group, made up of dynamic young adults mostly in our mid-late twenties, and amongst us were a handful from the creative industries (including a professional photographer, a piano teacher, a visualiser and myself an architect), folks from the finance and banking sectors, as well as those from the fields of marketing, healthcare and administration. This was an exciting mix, as each of us, with our varied skills set and training, saw things through unique lenses, and came away with different perspectives, thoughts and ideas.
For me, as someone who subscribes to the poetics of the everyday – in particular, of transforming ordinary, banal objects into pieces of recycled art – Goducate’s livelihood program naturally arrested my attention and inspired me most. For in the same spirit, villagers are taught to be enterprising by making soap and detergent from a simple concoction of kitchen ingredients, and by producing organic fertilizers (for vegetable farming) from breeding earthworms in their very own backyard. These livelihood skills not only provide poor families with an alternative source of income, but also empower the villagers with sustainable knowledge, giving them a sense of self-worth and hope as they learn to help themselves.
It was also fascinating to me that a big thrust of Goducate’s efforts in Laguna is directed at equipping children and teenagers with musical skills, which if honed, could potentially gain them free entry into High Schools, setting them on the path to break out of their poverty cycle. This ability to play a musical instrument also provides the youth with a means to earn some pocket money from performing at events; while the time spent practicing instills discipline and keeps them off the streets where vices abound. The Orchestra is an excellent Goducate program, but the problem as we found out, is a lack of musical instruments, which are acquired solely through random donations.
Being a DIY junkie, it immediately struck me that some basic instruments, particularly woodwinds, could be easily self-made using everyday materials and common household tools. And since all the juniors in the Orchestra begin their music education with recorders, this seemed like the perfect place to start.
With this in mind, I contacted a friend whom I know has a personal interest in woodwind instruments and who previously made his own flutes using plain PVC plumbing pipes! With his advice and direction to the appropriate Internet resources, we have since attempted to make whistles (similar to recorders) out of PVC electrical conduits available from any hardware store, using only a small hand saw to cut the pipe, a wooden dowel insert for the fipple block, an electric drill (or manual hand drill) to make the tone holes, a set of small files and some sand paper for the finishing touches.
These DIY PVC flutes/whistles play surprisingly well with a relatively decent sound, volume and pitch, cost next to nothing and do not require special skills, materials or equipment to produce. And because they are self-made, the combinations (of pipe length, bore diameter, thickness, position of tone holes, etc) can be customised to produce flutes/whistles in virtually any key. More advanced versions can even be made tunable, or have interchangeable heads (same mouth piece for bodies in different keys). Done well, these could certainly be sold. Having tried it ourselves, we are thrilled with the outcome and excited at the thought that this new found ability to make their own entry level instruments might better enable our Goducate partners to bring music to a wider field of poverty-stricken children in the rural outskirts of Laguna, and with it, plant a new song of hope into their fainting hearts.
As for my friends and I, what began as a restless sigh has since given place to a chorus of dreams as we each pitch in with little initiatives that we envision might some day form a collective movement much larger than the sum of ourselves. Dream big with us. Nay, not only, but come also, and GO-ducate with us!
Earlier this month, Goducate Children’s Home, Cambodia, welcomed 5 new children into the “family”. These children, Nat, Lynn, Kanya, Mon and Nia, come from Battambang, a 12-hour drive away from the Home. They come from very poor homes and have received little education. They came to the Home in hope of a better education and a better life in the future.
The new children were taken for medical check-ups… Continue reading
Since Goducate aims to help needy Asians help themselves, Bangladesh is a country that has attracted its attention.
Recently, Bangladesh was in the news because of a horrific factory collapse that killed over 1100 garment workers. I was in the country when that accident took place.
Bangladesh is the most densely populated large country. It has about 160 million people (half of US population) squeezed into a land… Continue reading
Goducate Training Center (GTC), in Iloilo, Philippines, held its first Recruitment Conference on May 6-8.
Invitations had been sent to new university graduates, to working people, and to those who had expressed interest in being trained as community development workers (CDWs). Over 300 people from all over the Philippines attended the conference.
The topics covered included the history of Goducate, its philosophies, its CDW training program, and the… Continue reading