July 2015 Balay Pasilungan Update
Dear <<First Name>>, in 2014, we had our first contact with 43 children living at a house called the Balay Pasilungan in a mountainous and tribal area of the Marilog District.The translation is "The House of Refuge". During several visits to the Balay we were told stories of children as young as five, who walked 4-8 miles each way to and from their homes, to attend school. Due to the long distance, they have been allowed to stay at a house built by the government, from Sunday afternoon until Friday afternoon.These are all tribal children, mostly from the Matigsalug people group.
We were introduced to a home without lights or electricity. The kids had little food on most days. Some hunted for frogs to eat. There was very little supervision, especially at night. One of the girls had been raped. The windows had no coverings and there were no blankets, pillows, beddings, bowls, spoons, cups, etc.
They didn't have clean water and basic sanitation was lacking. For me, the place was in desperate need of assistance and crying out for help. We could show you many "before" pictures but that is not necessary as the better photos show the "after" conditions since many partners came together to help transform the house to a home.
One of the first needs was to find a coordinating pastor. We met Pastor Jake of the Alliance Church in December of 2014. His church is a short walk from the Balay. In January, he took on the coordination and liaison role and found a parent to work at the home. We began channeling resources through him such as rice, bananas, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other much needed items. Over the next months he was also able to coordinate projects to install electricity and lights and to use volunteers to paint the home, inside and out and make other repairs. He established routines with the children through the new house parent and helped with tutorials.
Several partners such as Global Impact, Rotary, Banana Brothers and Biosand Philippines joined in with the Alliance Church and the local government officials to improve the living conditions and to provide regular meals for the children. We also received some designated donations from USA and Canadian donors and also from New Zealand (through Global Impact).
On June 2nd, the home reopened at the beginning of the new school year. Instead of 43 children, 65 children are now living at the home. Many parents were there to attend the reopening as were visitors from Missouri and representatives from the various sponsoring organizations. The children were given sleeping mats, blankets, pillows, backpacks, school supplies, shoes and other items. It was a great day of celebration.
In the next weeks, water filters and composting toilets will be added through a grant from Rotary International. Gardens will be enlarged to provide vegetables. A huge transformation has take place at the house which is now more appropriately living up to its name, as a place of refuge. The kids prepare most of their meals, they can study at night for the first time as there are lights in each room. They do not shiver in the cold at night, as they have blankets and the windows are sealed. They are staying in school for the entire week. The teachers report much better attendance and attention of the children in the classroom has improved. Full stomachs make a big difference.
There are still more needs as our budget really was designed for 45 kids, not 65. We use seven sacks of rice each month, instead of four. Improvements are needed for the second level of the home, which at this time is unfinished. So we do need some additional funds to keep the momentum going. We are trying to manage on a budget of around 500 USD a month for basic needs and supervision, which is not really adequate for this number of children. Local donations of bananas and other items are a big help. God is always faithful.
Lives are being changed. We are excited that God continues to open doors for ministry with these children.
Seeds of Dignity Ministries, Inc.
Seeds of Dignity Ministries - Mindanao, Inc.