Dear Supporters and Friends,
There’s lots of exciting news in this edition! Hope you enjoy the read.
Please pass it on to your friends and family …..
Welcome to our new Board Members!
We are pleased to announce that at our recent Board Meeting in February we appointed a number of new Board Members. This was considered necessary as we extend our educational support programs and start construction of Felisa Children’s Village. All the new members are based in Bacolod giving us much stronger ties to the local community.
Here’s the new team! Actually what a team – we are so blessed to have them all on board.
It goes without saying, of course, that all the new and existing board members continue to give their time free of charge thus keeping our management and administration costs to an absolute minimum.
Change is Coming!
The last few months have been an interesting time in the Philippines, with a change of President, and a lot more international media coverage than we are used to receiving, much of it not particularly flattering or positive. However, we fully support the government’s new focus on providing more efficient and effective government services aimed at helping poorer and disadvantaged communities, but the sad reality is that it is going to take many years before the lives of disadvantaged children noticeably improves. Many thousands of children continue to live below the poverty line; do not receive an education, and have lost parental support through being either orphaned, abandoned or taken into government care due to abuse. The need for a facility such as the Felisa Children’s Village is as strong as ever. But these days we see a positive wind of change as we move from working in isolation against a backdrop of non-government action and indifference towards a partnership of closer collaboration with relevant government agencies and a real desire to work together to make a difference. Please don’t believe everything you read in the press about the Philippines – there’s a lot off ‘fake news’ being published by those that don’t want to see the change that is happening on the ground.
Felisa Children’s Village Ground-Breaking!
Because the village is a much bigger project than we had originally envisaged, it has taken us a little longer than we had originally planned to reach this point, but on 25 February 2017, Felisa Children’s Village was officially born with a ground-breaking ceremony marking the start of construction. The plans remain very much as described in the last newsletter with 6 family-style houses able to take 12 children each, plus a management office and a multi-purpose hall, set in its own landscaped gardens.
A big thanks to all Councilors, Local Government Officials including the Child Protection Department, Local Teachers, Lions Club Representatives, Volunteers, Board Members and the Construction Team who came out to mark the occasion.
We have now completed site regrading, which was necessary to improve drainage and provide flat plots for the buildings, and have also started the construction of the boundary wall and gate, which has been made possible through recent donations taking us to our PHP 1 million target. Thanks everyone! The photographs show the deep water well, setting out the boundary wall and site regrading works. It’s so exciting to see our key project taking shape. The next newsletter should show some completed construction!
Re-thinking our Vision and Mission
Up until the recent board meeting in February our stated objective was to provide homes for children who have lost parental care. That main objective still remains of course, but having now worked in the local community for the last 4 years, we realise that we can also use some of our funds effectively to assist many children who are unable to attend school due to extreme poverty or neglect. Also, our annual Christmas event for children in poor communities has grown into a major undertaking. Our event in December 2016 brought smiles to over 300 disadvantaged children.
Taking into account, our additional activities, we have amended our vision and mission to be:
- to provide support to children in need, through
- providing family-style, loving homes to children who have lost parental support through death or illness, being abandoned or being removed from parental care by the authorities due to abuse;
- providing financial and other support to children to allow them to return or continue with full-time education when at risk of losing their access to education
- bringing joy to children in poor communities through our program of special events such as the annual Christmas party.
Christmas Event 2016
This was our biggest and best event yet. We had a fantastic volunteer turnout leading up to the event and on the day itself, which helped to make at least 450 children happy. We received around US$ 1,500 in donations specifically for the event, but also many helped out by providing toys and gift wrap.
This was a real community effort, and as you will see from the photographs below, both young and old came together to help. This is what Balay Dalangpan loves – getting people together to make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged children. The local media gave us some good coverage too, with Judith and Rosemarie interviewed on local radio to report on the event.
We now have funds to complete the boundary wall and gate, and this work will take around 6 months to complete. While that is going on we will redouble our fundraising efforts so that we can start the construction of our first homes soon after that. We need around PHP 4 million (US$ 80,000) per home, so don’t be surprised if you see various fundraising campaigns launched soon to help us reach that target.
As always, we are indebted to our many supporters. Every dollar or peso received really does make a difference.
Please continue to spread the word. We need all the help we can get to turn Felisa Children’s Village from a dream into reality.
The Balay Dalangpan Team