The Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns has spearheaded a distribution of story books donated by Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (CANVAS) under its One Million Books for One Million Filipino Children. The distributed took place in 5 communities in Marikina city from June 12 – July 1. The activity has benefitted at least hundred (400) children, 257 girls and 143 boys, whose ages ranging from 7 – 17 years old. Most of the beneficiaries are students (Grade 1 to Grade 12) while some of them are out of school children/youth.
The activities have been conducted in partnership with the chapters of Salinlahi Youth in Marikina as well as the homeowners associations s in respective communities. Aside from book distribution, children were also given food and drinks sponsored by the Task Force Children of the Storm (TFCOS).
Supposedly, the distribution would commence immediately after the receipt of the books from CANVAS in April. However, it was temporarily postponed in consideration with the upsurge of cases of COVID-19 in the city of Marikina as well as the existing quarantine measures imposed by the national government.
After a series of consultations with the Salinlahi Youth Marikina and leaders of target communities, schedules of distributions were initially identified. As a result, the Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns was able to distribute story books for at least 400 school-aged children in the four Barangays of Marikina City from June 12 to July 1.
During the Book Distribution, the staff of Salinlahi gave utmost importance to the well-being of children and youth beneficiaries by properly observing minimum health protocols such as wearing of facemasks, implementing physical distancing and the provision of alcohol.
In most of the Barangays, the story books were distributed in front of beneficiaries’ houses in order to prevent the unnecessary gathering of children. In some areas where children have already been going outside for play and recreational purposes, the Salinlahi have reached out to homeowners associations and officials of the Barangay to request for permit allowing the conduct of discussion with older beneficiaries.
These children were gathered either in open spaces and multi-purpose halls with the objective of making them aware of the good intentions of the One Million Books for One Million Filipino Children Project as well as the contents of each book which primarily focused on the rights of children and youth.
In every activity, the officers of each chapter were the ones who received the story books from the Salinlahi before giving out provide to the beneficiaries whom they identified prior to the actual distribution.
The children beneficiaries were very happy upon receiving the books as it would not only provide them with new knowledge but also additional productive activities while observing home quarantine during the pandemic.
Some of the beneficiaries we interviewed said that from these books they would learn a lot of things that they could share to their fellow children. It would also provide them opportunities to impart their reading skills to younger children – including their siblings and friends. Most of the children who received Sino Si Juan immediately grabbed their crayons and amusedly added colors on the black and white illustrations.
There were also areas that held story-telling sessions using the books with beneficiaries during and after the distribution.
Aside from the community leaders, parents of the beneficiaries also expressed their appreciation to the project.
Overall, the activities were held successfully aside from the instances where some children in the communities who were not given with books since there were only 100 children allotted in every Barangay and the beneficiaries were pre-identified by the partner organizations. In order to resolve the problem, the children were encouraged to allow others to lend their books.
During the third quarter of 2021, the cases of COVID-19 pandemic in the country have dramatically increased due to the spread of more transmittable Delta and Lambda variants. Alarmingly, cases among children also spiked in Metro Manila and other regions in the Philippines. Worse, there were even reports that pediatrics wards in some hospitals have already reached its full capacities.
Such a scenario has resulted in stricter implementation of quarantine protocols, particularly in areas with higher number of cases which consequently affected the implementation of the project.
Thus, Salinlahi decided to postpone some of the previously scheduled distribution of story books in consideration with these developments. At the same time, a program staff and another volunteer of Salinlahi have tested positive to COVID-19 in mid-July which triggered a more than three-week home quarantine. Luckily, both of the patients have recovered after having mild symptoms.
After receiving negative results for all of its staff and volunteers, Salinlahi resumed its efforts in distributing CANVAS books in August. As expected, there were still difficulties since most of the target communities have cases of COVID-19 while respective barangays have been closely monitoring the conduct of activities within their areas, including humanitarian efforts.
Grounded on the previous gains and experience in collaborating with the local government units in Marikina City, Salinlahi has reached the assistance and partnership of the Sanguniang Kabataan in various barangays of Marikina by writing a formal request to jointly conduct the distribution of CANVAS books. Fortunately, most of the SK in target barangays favorably granted the requests and assisted Salinlahi in the actual activities.
During the book distribution, the staff of Salinlahi gave utmost importance to the well-being of children and youth beneficiaries by properly observing minimum health protocols such as wearing of face masks, implementing physical distancing and the provision of alcohol. Temperature of beneficiaries who took part during orientations and face-to-face discussions were also checked.
In most of the Barangays, the distributions occurred in front of beneficiaries’ houses in order to prevent the unnecessary gathering of children. In some areas where children have already been going outside for play and recreational purposes, discussions with beneficiaries were held in open spaces, basketball courts and multi-purpose halls and were conducted in coordination and partnership with barangay officials and homeowners’ associations.
There were also instances wherein distributions were made more existing and educational for beneficiaries by asking them to answer sets of questions related to their school subjects before receiving the donated story books from CANVAS and Salinlahi.
In Barangay Tumana, 200 CANVAS books were distributed for children in two (2) areas – Ilaw and Creekside. House to house distribution was held in Creekside while the distribution of books in Ilaw was combined with a discussion of Filipino children’s rights and situations. Aside from the books, some of the children beneficiaries who joined the discussion were given vegetables and bread donated by People for Accountable Governance and Sustainable Action (PAGASA).
Another distribution of books was held in July for 100 children of Sitio Paradise in Malanday, Marikina. Using the multi-purpose hall as venue, Salinlahi held a brief discussion of children’s rights before distributing the books among children.
In Barangay Nangka, Salinlahi was able to distribute books among the members of Salinlahi Youth on August 2 while another batch of house-to-house distribution was held together with SK officials for their young constituents in Camacho Compound. Aside from brief discussions about the books given among beneficiaries, SK Nangka also distributed nutritious hot meals which were donated by volunteers of KusiNangka.
Salinlahi Youth in Fortune have decided to distribute the books for 100 children on their own as a way to minimize the contacts from people outside of their community while the cases were still high. Hence, Salinlahi have just formally turned over the books among the officers of SY Fortune and closely monitored their actual distribution.
In coordination with the SK council of Barangay Barangka, young residents of Urban Bliss in the said barangay have received CANVAS books from Salinlahi and hot meals from community pantry organizers in the city.
Last August 31, Salinlahi together with Iglesia Filipina Independiente – Sto. Nino has successfully conducted a one-day feeding and educational program benefitting 100 young residents of Sitio Isla de Lata in Barangay Concepcion Uno, Marikina City. During the activity, children were gathered in a compound wherein a brief orientation about the project was discussed. Aside from the CANVAS books, children beneficiaries were also given nutritious hot meals under IFI’s Kusinang Bayan program.
Through a partnership with youth organizations in Barangay San Roque such as the Bayanihan ng Kabataan ng San Roque and Barangay San Roque SK Council, Salinlahi was able to provide 100 CANVAS books for young learners of San Roque Primary and Secondary Schools particularly the members of student councils and school publications. Some of the books were also donated for learners with special educational needs. In order to ensure health protocols, the books were delivered in front of beneficiaries’ houses.
In Barangay Tanong, Salinlahi has formally turned over the books to the SK Officials. Since the Barangay Captain wasn’t allowing even house to house distribution of humanitarian supports, the beneficiaries received their CANVAS books at the barangay hall after participating in a webinar organized by the SK Tanong entitled Kaagapay sa Bagong Sistema ng Edukasyon para sa Makabagong Henerasyon which was aimed at providing the educational needs of children and youth of their barangays. Learning resources and the CANVAS books were included in the kits. During the webinar, the SK officers discussed the CANVAS initiatives with Salinlahi as well as the brief descriptions of the books.
The children beneficiaries were very happy upon receiving the books as it would not only provide them with new knowledge but also additional productive activities while observing home quarantine during the pandemic. The SK officials who helped in the project have also expressed appreciation by saying that the initiative has contributed a lot in making children and youth aware of their rights and roles in society. They specifically highlighted the importance of fighting fake news, misinformation and disinformation as well as in protecting digital privacy especially that millions of Filipino young people are very online.
The discussions, on the other hand, gave children and youth opportunities to share their stories during the pandemic, their views and opinions towards the impact on their lives and their wishes to return to their ‘normal life’ including the immediate reopening of schools.
The followings are some of the feedbacks from beneficiaries:
“Thank you po for giving us books. Makakatulong po talaga ito sa mga bata lalo na ngayon na sa bahay lang pwede mag-aral. Hoping po kami na masundan pa po ito. Salamat po.” Ayessa Queberin of Salinlahi Youth
“First of all, it gives a very big help para sa aming mga kabataan to be aware sa mga issues ng ating bansa. It also helps us know our rights as children that must be protected,” Jamine Cabal said of Salinlahi Youth.
“Napaka ganda nung libro na pinamigay po ninyo lalong-lalo na sa mga kabataan, na kailangan nila malaman ang kanilang mga karapataan … bagay ang libro sa aming generation, mga millenials mas marami kaming natututunan.” Aj Marquez of Dead-End Community Pantry.
“Interesting po ang mga libro. Tugma sa sitwaston at problema ng mga bata ngayon at naiintindihan ang aming pangangailangan at mga karapatan bilang bata….nagpapakita ng pagiging matatag sa sarili at pinapaintindi ang kahalagahan ng pagprotekta sa aming sarili habang gumagamit ng teknolohiya. Higit sa lahat, nalaman namin ang aming karapatan bilang isang mamamayan ng bansa.” Claire of Salinlahi Youth.
Community and barangay partners have given positive feedback and expressed willingness to continue collaborating with Salinlahi and CANVAS on programs relating to children’s rights and youth empowerment. It also gave community pantry organizers the idea of initiating education and awareness programs aside from their existing relief efforts. Parents of the beneficiaries also expressed their appreciation to the project.