Last February, my client booked me for a seven-day trip in the Visayas. Our main objective was to visit a small elementary school in San Andres, Villareal, Samar where his charity organization, Books for the Barrios, donated a small library a few years ago. With my passion for books and interest in socio-civic affairs as well as curiosity for places in far-flung areas of the country, naturally I was quite excited for the trip.
It turned out to be such a rewarding experience. I was happy to learn that the children looked forward to their Reading Hour every other day and that they loved the stories in these books that came all the way from the US. It was especially touching for me as I saw myself in them, in their joy in learning and seeing more of the world than their limited environment brings them.
Growing up, my mom never bought us any books, which I know is pretty odd given that she was a history teacher all throughout my formative years*. During highschool, I devoured the books (discarded from US libraries) in the English Department’s Reading Room. I was often bored and restless throughout my high school life and these tomes were my life line. Some of these books stimulated me, enlightened me and definitely changed my vision and outlook about the world. A little book you donate to Books for the Barrios can make a huge difference to a life of a person. That feeling alone- that there are certain strangers out there in distant parts of the globe aware of my presence and that made the effort to send me this book- of being loved and cared for, is important. Book donations are gifts that bless both the giver and the given.
Books for the Barrios is a small NGO that has trained teachers and donated more than 2 millions books to the poorest of the poor schools in the Philippines for the past 30+ years. They have done a great deal of work in remote sections of Mindanao. The money they spend to ship the books here come from their fund-raising drives and their own pockets. Aside from books, they also donate boardgames, art and school materials here. To the people who are part of Books for the Barrios especially to the founders Ms. Nancy and Dan Harrington, as well as the members of Joe’s Filipino-American Alliance Group, thank you!
Please click this link for information on how to donate to Books for the Barrios.
You may also follow them in Facebook here.
Here are some pictures from this wonderful experience:
Ms. Myla Sablawon is the principal of San Andres Elementary School. She is showing my client the design of the classroom
My client and I were treated like VIP in this school!
Here are the books that were donated by Books for the Barrios. The children love them.
Books for the Barrios book donations on display.
Books for the Barrios also donated boardgames and art materials for the children.
The cheerful and rowdy kids of San Andres Elementary School.
Finally it’s candy time! The children were so happy to eat American chocolates that we brought for them. It really is a treat for them.
EDIT: February 2018
This week, a heavy box, 55 kilos at least, containing 300 books arrived again at San Andres Elementary School. It was shipped the old fashion way, by ship. The box went out a week before Xmas and arrived only in February 201.
It will be put at a library that my client, Joe Cowan, had built for this school. The school even wanted to name the building The Joseph Cowan Building but he declined! ^^*
A vast majority of the books was assembled by Dan and Nancy Harrington of Books for the Barrios. Again, thank you to the Harrington’s that have established libraries in the most remote parts of the Philippines and have collected 2 million children’s books over 30 year of service. It’s all driven by a love of the Philippines and belief in the importance of education.
Pictures of the new library and the new books: