Sunday, June 24, 2012

Philippine Army 'Bayanihan' Yellow Boat of Hope

Meet Radzmah Mutalib, 10, and her friend Sherlyn Amirul, 9, of Bgy Layag-layag in Zamboanga City. Their homes are located at least 3 kms off the coast of Bgy. Talon-talon where their school is located. Most of them belong to families who escaped the battlegrounds of nearby islands of Sulu and Basilan where the bloody conflict had claimed thousands of lives since the ancient times.

Bgy Layag-layag is a typical 'lubog-litaw' village due to its location. During high tide, their homes are partly submerged by sea water. Most of the villagers have their own bancas while some of them just borrow from their close relatives.

The people in this village are either seaweed farmers or fishermen. You can find seaweed farms all over the place.

Children learn to paddle at an early age. Boating is their way of life.

During school days, children are transported by an adult towards school using a banca. When there is not enough space, some of the school children wade through chest-deep waters, carrying their belongings on their heads. Seeing the plight of these poor children who struggle to attend school classes, kind-hearted individuals like Anton Mari Lim and Jay Jaboneta came to the rescue. This is the birth of the Funds for Philippine Kids which later evolved as the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation.

Through Bayanihan activities with our partners, the Army is able to provide a boat named 'Philippine Army Bayanihan'. In this photo, I and Anton Mari Lim handed over the paddle to the beneficiaries.

The Army Bayanihan is now part of the fleet of Yellow Boats that ferry school children towards school.

As part of our effort to sustain the livelihood of the poor families residing in this isolated community, at least 800 people volunteered to participate in the mangrove tree-planting. We were able to plant at least 9,000 trees during that single day.

 Seaweed farms are located near the mangrove forest.

The main actors in this undertaking are the kind-hearted people behind the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, Tzu Chi Foundation, EDSA People Power Commission, Philippine Red Cross and other stakeholders in Zamboanga City.

Helping others is fun!

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