April & May 2014: Over the last couple of months, I had the opportunity to be involved in a summer employment program for students in Santa Rita, thanks to my Peace Corp friend Donna.
Santa Rita is the largest barangay in Olongapo City. For four weeks during their summer vacation (which occurs during April and May in the Philippines), 80 youths went door to door, educating families about recycling and signing people up to participate in a new program to set aside their recyclables and turn them over to the students.
Because of our trip to Myanmar in April, my role was limited to helping with the early planning stages, attending the initial orientation and giving a presentation about money to students at the end of the term. We also toured the Olongapo City Landfill (see previous post) and a local junk shop.
“Let’s Talk About Money” was an idea I’ve had for a while, after hearing firsthand some of the many financial challenges faced by so many Filipino families. Money management is an important life skill, so I was excited to be able to share some tips about spending, saving and sharing. It was fun putting the presentation together and creating scenarios for discussion that I hoped would seem relevant to these young people and get them thinking.
But standing up in front of the group and actually giving the presentation was a little daunting, although my sad attempt at juggling some ping pong balls while talking about budgeting got a good laugh. It was a bit difficult to engage the group late on a Friday afternoon, at the end of a long work week. Especially after the power went out half way through. Not only did we lose the powerpoint presentation, but we also lost the air conditioning. With that many bodies packed into a small space at the peak of summer, it was soon sweltering. But we made it through, thanks in huge part to the assistance of Mara, a social work student from Columban College.
It was interesting to work with Ying, the program’s coordinator, and learn about a few of the cultural differences in organizing programs and training activities in this country. It was challenging to prepare a presentation for students whose first language is not English. It was heartening to know that 1620 families signed up to participate in the program to help support the student’s education.
The program was a big success in increasing the amount of material recycled, due in part to the coordination and training efforts of Ying, Alen, Domingo, Pat and Donna and rest of the Peace Corp volunteers, Desiree and her social work students from Columban College, and mostly to all of the Santa Rita students who worked hard to spread the news about recycling.
With additional photos from Donna.