Sunday, December 14, 2008
Australian engineer enhances urban poor school
Australian mining engineer Scott Dennis heard so much about the Philippines from his girlfriend and former CERV volunteer Jennifer Duncombe he wanted to volunteer on his own. He got his chance when he visited Jenn in the Philippines who was volunteering in the Manila office of the World Health Organization.
For 14 days on weekdays, Scott painted the Busilak Day Care Center at the multi-purpose building in Sitio Veterans, Barangay Bagong Silangan in Quezon City, Metro Manila which also doubles as a meeting room and chapel on occasion. He also finished the painting of the office, clinic and library on the second floor. He bought the paints and the materials from his own pocket and, at the end of his project, donated funds for the procurement and installation of glass window panes plus more paints for the building exterior.
Last December 7, Scott and Jenn also worked at the newly-established native tree species nursery of Hortica Filipina Foundation, Inc. at Rodriguez, Rizal east of Metropolitan Manila. It was Jenn’s second time to work with the environmentalists who organized the now defunct Philippine Marathon for the Pasig River/Pasig River Heritage Marathon.
Last December12, Scott was feted in a farewell program attended by officers and members of the Samahan ng Maralitang Kababaisang Nagkakaisa (Association of United Urban Poor Women) or Samakana, a nationwide organization of urban poor women, and Samahan ng mg Kabataan ng Veterans (Youth Association of Veterans) or SKV. He was regaled with songs and dances as well as speeches by the children of the day care center, Samakana and SKV.
“I am very grateful for the warm welcome you have all given me. I enjoyed every minute of it and I don’t want to change any of it,” Scott said in his farewell message before the groups. At the end of his speech, Scott turned over a boxful of children’s books, crayons, pieces of colored chalk and other school supplies for the use of the day care center. Scott also thanked his young new friends who not only kept him company but assisted and even played basketball with him as well.
Samakana national secretary general “Nanay” Bising Taldo profusely thanked Scott for his kindness and international solidarity to the struggles and aspirations of Filipino urban poor women. “It is heartwarming that we have been made recipient of this act of kindness and labor of love from someone who came from overseas,” Nanay Bising said.
From a ramshackle affair of discarded tin roofs and rough walls, Busilak Day Care Center and Multi-Purpose Hall is now a three storey concrete building with tiled bathrooms and floors and light-pink and brown walls. Majority of the funds for its construction were raised with the help of Italian humanitarian organizations. Several Veterans children and members of the youth organization were regularly invited in Italy for concerts that helped in fund-raising.
“There is still much work to be done,” Nanay Bising said. “But with this building, we are already assured that our children will no longer study in leaky rooms with no doors and windows. We can also have medical missions here. Plus, with the books and computers donated by former CERV volunteers, our youngsters are given more opportunities to study. We thank all those who help us help ourselves, especially when these basic social services are denied us poor people by the government,” she added.