Cebu, Philippines team faces theft amidst turbulent COVID-19 lockdown; responds to food crisis by sharing farmland surpluses with community in need; Hope Center students celebrate 100% pass rate
Photo: Girls from our Cebu Girls Home are happy to show you the goats they've been helping to raise at the farmland.
May 30, 2020. Today we bring you a news roundup from our programs on the island of Cebu, Philippines. We are happy to report that all 40 of the students enrolled in our Children's Hope Center (ages 7-17, grades 1-12) passed their end-of-semester exams in March after diligently studying their school subjects of English, science, math, the Filipino language, and social studies. Thanks to your support of the program, they received plentiful after-school tutoring which we believe made the 100% pass rate possible for these at-risk, impoverished children.
In addition, 10 of our students received Certificates of Recognition for their high academic grades during the last semester. We are extremely proud of them, and want to emphasize how this is a true demonstration of potential being uncovered and fostered among the impoverished, struggling children who have entered the program.
However, due to the COVID-19 crisis, our Hope Center and all local schools were closed before the regular end of the school year because The Philippines is in the state of "Enhanced Community Quarantine" (a very strict lockdown measure) which was ordered by the government on March 16 (75 days ago). The school year normally begins in June, but due to the pandemic, the beginning of the school year will likely be delayed. Thankfully, all of our Hope Center students are healthy and safe at home with their families.
The lockdown is very difficult for our native team because they would rather be out in the community continuing their important work of supporting the poor families they are seeking to empower. Their neighbors don't have enough food because most people in the area did not have any work before the quarantine, thus they do not have money to purchase food. The government only gave 3 kg (6.6 lb) of rice and 3 cans of sardines to every household which is not enough food to sustain the needs of every family. But thanks to your generous support and the flourishing of our farmland enterprise, our team has been able to consistently distribute food to 26 impoverished families in the area, giving hope during the COVID-19 crisis.
This month we were able to distribute rice before the curfew of 5:30 pm. Between 4:00 and 5:30 pm, one person from each household was able to walk to our property with a quarantine pass, and we practiced careful social distancing. We have also been able to distribute fish from our fishery, eggs from our hen house project, and coconut and bananas from our groves by scheduling appointments over the phone. We also kept some of our fish, eggs, and produce to feed our native team and of course the girls at our girls home.
To keep our 2 ponds at the fishery at optimal quality, thus providing more healthy fish to impoverished families, our team will soon be purchasing 9 aerators which will enhance the pond fish habitats by improving the water quality, reducing algae, removing phosphorus, breaking down unwanted bacteria, helping with mosquito problems, and removing foul odors from the ponds — all by circulating the water and adding dissolved oxygen.
Because the government has given so little food to families and many people do not have a way to obtain food, there has been a problem with theft in the area. Our native team was recently a victim of looting — our rooster was stolen from our hen house project. We are in urgent need of security cameras that were destroyed by lightning during a previous thunderstorm. We are seeking to raise $1,235 to purchase 10 security cameras for the safety of our team and our farmland enterprise.
Our faithful field director sends this message of gratitude and prayer to you:
"We are so grateful, and blessed by you, our donors, for your unending support to us in times like this. Even if we are experiencing a very difficult situation right now, we still survive because of your great help to us. Honestly, our neighbors are in deep need because the government has not provided enough to sustain their basic needs. We are very thankful to all of you for your big help.
We have a prayer request that God will always provide for our needs, and that He will continue to strengthen our lives and also protect my whole family in the midst of this pandemic. And hopefully the situation we are facing right now will go back to normal so that we may resume all of our work."
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