In Zamboanga, Yellow Boats Keep Hope Afloat for Kids Who Used to Swim to School
Kenneth Mheil Mangaya- Ay | May 27, 2020
Photos by Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation
Education is the greatest gift a child can ever have! But, this right becomes a privilege for many children especially in the far-flung islands in the Philippines. Schools are sometimes too far for the most remote communities to practically access. Transportation is another big problem. Kids walk to and from school every day. They have to cross rivers and climb hills with their book bags. Others even have to swim to school with their uniforms getting wet in the process.
These challenges experienced by children in Layag-Layag, Zamboanga City (in particular) gave birth to the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, a concept that was inspired by yellow school buses, the traditional mode of transportation for children heading school. The foundation hopes to widen access to education by providing students in remote areas of the country with the means to get to school via modes of transportation, such as their Yellow School Boats, and the construction of bridges and dormitories. Today, almost 20 communities in Mindanao are now being supported by the foundation.
As a volunteer-driven foundation, Bangkayanihan aims to solve various problems in the community. “When we spot a community in need, or whenever one is reported to us, we immediately send someone from our team from our partner organizations closest to the reported community to validate the situation on the ground. After checking and after identifying their specific need, we then look for a local implementer: community leaders who are familiar with the territory,” said Anton Mari Lim, Yellow Boat Chief Paddler.
“Our volunteers immerse themselves in the community in order to fully understand their way of life and their surroundings. This allows us to deliver a solution, including how it is delivered, in a way that is in line with their values culture and beliefs,” he added, “We simply guide and empower them in making it possible. We also consult with experts in the field to make sure what we come up with is the most effective and efficient solution.”
“Sweat equity” is required from the community to execute the project. “In our boats for example, most of our beneficiaries help each other in building them. In the process, we get to teach them the value of unity and hard work. We also want to promote the dignity of labor as opposed to just relying on dole-outs,” shared Anton. As an adopted Yellow Boat community, the foundation monitors their progress and link them to other organizations and government agencies to make sure they become sustainable, “We stay in the community until we are not needed anymore!”
“In areas where it is physically impossible to go to school because of geographic distance, our ALS teachers and volunteers bring education to the doorsteps of the learners. The Bangkarunungan boat is a complete school and adapts the DepEd Alternative Learning System to make sure no learner is left behind,” shared Anton.
“In a country where there is not much opportunity. Education is the only way out of poverty, achieve Peace, restore Hope, and spread Love.” For details on how you can help, visit the Facebook Page of Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation. #HopeSails