Dear Supporters and Friends,
This edition brings the latest news of our children’s village which reached an important construction milestone, and provides an update on our very successful #BeAChildsBetterFutureBuilder program which, thanks to the incredible support of our donors, now gives 50 very poor children access to an education, which they would certainly miss without Balay’s intervention.
In 2017 we invited our supporters to ‘be a child’s better future builder’. The response has been fantastic – thank you to all that have supported us with this. This program was something we started in response to the immediate needs of very poor children in our local communities who were falling into child labor instead of receiving an education, and a wish, amongst our trustees, supporters and the government to start a program which provides more immediate benefits to children in need. The children’s village still remains a huge priority for us, but because of the costs involved it is a ‘slow-burn’ project with each construction milestone requiring significant funding.
It is a very sad reality that many children in the Philippines are missing out on their right to an education by being forced to work because their families simply cannot afford to send them to school. State-provided schooling is essentially free in the Philippines but even the modest burden of school supplies, uniforms, daily transport, lunches and the cost of regular school projects cannot be met by many families in extreme poverty, and there is little accessible government support to help.
Without an education, children have little hope of breaking out of the poverty cycle and building a future for themselves and their future families. The reality is that poor families generally remain in poverty from generation to generation – a life of squalor, hunger, poor health and little hope for the future.
The program’s target beneficiaries are children belonging to families with a monthly income of less than PHP5,000 (US$92, GBP70); with no more than one working parent or guardian (due to parental illness, death, or family breakdown) and who are categorized as ‘Child Labor’ or at ‘Risk of Dropping Out of School’. It is hard for many of us to imagine an income at that level, but in the Philippines monthly salaries in the range of PHP3,000 to PHP5,000 are common in the informal work sector, despite a legal minimum wage of PHP466 per day.
Our program comprises of three interlinked components:
Donations have increased to the point where Balay was able to commit to providing financial support to 50 children at the beginning of school year 2018-19, but we still require additional donations to get these 50 children through to the end of the year. We hope to increase the number of children supported significantly next year as there are many other children in a similar situation, but will need more donations to do so. The financial support provided to each child varies depending on each individual’s circumstances but covers those additional education-related costs which cannot be met by the child’s family. Costs are paid directly by Balay wherever possible to avoid misappropriation of funds. Many of the children who now receive an education through Balay were previously child laborers.
Parental Livelihood Programs
Providing food on the table each day remains a key concern for very poor families, and it is usually this lack of food which forces children to drop out of school and into labor. As part of our sustainable approach to assist families to help themselves, we have therefore worked with other local NGOs, such as CAJDEN, and the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) to develop and implement simple livelihood programs which help uneducated parents earn a basic income to help support themselves and their children. This is working well, with mothers involved in schemes such as small-scale rice trading. The inputs from Balay and other NGOs include the provision of initial capital, training to parents and ongoing monitoring.
We are indebted to the efforts of local NGO, CAJDEN, whose staff and volunteers work tirelessly to make this part of the program a success. It’s a match made in heaven – they provide the dedicated people with experience of working with local poor communities and the co-ordination with DOLE and Balay provides the financial support needed.
Character Development and Awareness
In parallel with their normal education the children are also involved in a series of camps, training workshops, participatory drama, music and art designed to improve value formation, increase their knowledge of child rights, improve awareness of various forms of child exploitation, encourage teamwork and a commitment to the community and improve life skills.
Some children are already showing real signs of leadership and have, for example, organized a local sports festival in their community. Below are images from some of the various events.
Why Every Little Helps …
The benefits of this program are huge, but its costs are incredibly low. This is what can be achieved with regular donations based upon our average costs per child:
- PHP500 (US$10) per month provides a full time elementary or junior high school education for one child
- PHP750 (US$15) per month provides a full time senior high school education for a child
- PHP1,000 (US$20) per month provides a full time education for a child and assistance to his/her parenwith a simple, sustainable livelihood program to teach them to become self-sufficient.
Your donation will give these children the opportunity of a brighter future, giving them the chance of an education that all children deserve.
Construction of Children’s Village – Status Update
Construction has moved a long way this year, with completion of levelling of the site ready to allow construction of buildings, full construction of the 220m long boundary wall and the installation of the main gate. This is a major milestone as we now have a secure site allowing us to store building materials and start construction of buildings.
Major injections of funding are now required to move the project forward, and we have a number of initiatives to be implemented in the coming months to assist with this:
Application to Achieve Official ‘Donee Status’ in the Philippines
Corporate donations in the Philippines are only tax-deductible if the receiving foundation has been awarded official ‘donee status’ by the tax authority, BIR. To encourage corporate support, it is essential that we achieve this status as soon as possible. The application, which required considerable preparation, has now been made to BIR, and a decision is awaited. Once ‘donee status’ is achieved, we will be in a position to call upon support from various corporate social responsibility programs.
Registration as a Charity in the UK
Fundraising efforts outside the Philippines are often difficult without having the charity registered in an internationally recognised jurisdiction. For example, common fundraising platforms such as ‘Just Giving’ are only available to charities registered in particular countries. It does not support charities registered in the Philippines. Also, many government authorities around the world will only allow fundraising campaigns if run by internationally recognised charities.
Because of our close links to the UK through our Chairman, Robert, we have decided to formally register the charity in the UK. This will be a feeder charity to the main foundation based in the Philippines. We are almost ready to make our formal application to the UK Charity Commission. We would be very happy to hear from anyone based in the UK who would like to consider becoming a trustee.
Our main goal is to open a charity shop in the UK which will provide revenue for operation and maintenance of the children’s village.
Our Continued Pledge to our Supporters
Please remember that Balay is different to most other similar foundations because:
- it operates with almost zero administration or management costs, as all Board of Trustee members and other volunteers give all of their time, personal expenses and use of their premises free of charge. Therefore, every donation made really does make a difference to children’s lives
- it is creating small homes with no more than 12 children in each with a home ‘mother’, ‘aunty’ and ‘siblings’ so that children grow up in a loving environment which feels like a real home, not a large institution
- it operates under strict financial rules on how donations can be spent to avoid any misappropriation or poor management of funds.
Thanks as always for your continued support. Every little really does help change young lives for the better.
The Balay Team