For the past three months, I've been involved with school library development at Tanauan, Batangas through Sambat Trust, a UK based charity that supports literacy development and education. Below is a draft write up on the organization. It's growing and accomplishing great things in small but sure steps since the past three years!
Who is Sambat Trust?
The Pied Piper of Hamelin, a folk story, teaches implicitly the importance of keeping one’s word and fulfilling a promise. With a magic flute, the Pied Piper successfully rid the town of rats for a promised reward. Sadly, the town mayor failed to do so. As a result, the Pied Piper took away from the town, its most valuable resource – its children. Indeed, the town had been freed from pestilence but it lost its joy and its future.
Keeping one’s words is as precious as valuing children.
Sambat Trust UK, a charity devoted to support literacy and education, does both. It is true to its words and believes in upholding the basic right of children to proper education and access to schooling.
Reaching Out and Giving Back
Sambat Trust UK began scholarship programs for underprivileged children in Tanauan, Batangas in 2007. It has adopted thirty-six scholars, from grade school, high school and college levels in various barangays in the area. Its founder, Mr. Anthony Mariano believes that the cycle of poverty that permeates the way of life of his kababayans (countrymen) in Tanauan can be broken through education. By providing its scholars with books, school supplies and basic tuition fees, the Sambat Trust scholars could go to school. Thus, they are given the opportunity to develop skills necessary for living a full life.
As a second generation Tanaueno, Anthony Mariano would go home to the Philippines for vacations and holidays with his parents, Eligorio and Beatrize, who were former teachers. His parents have found work and have settled in London in the 70s but the Philippines remained in their hearts. Anthony recalled one experience related by his mum. This particular story made him eager to reach out and give back. His mum related that, in one particular holiday in Tanauan, she met children as young as six and seven years old working in the streets selling mats, rags and sampaguita. A couple of years after, returning for another holiday with relatives in Tanauan, his mum observed that the situation has not changed.
Finally, visiting Tanauan in 2007, Anthony had a first hand experience of the poverty that has been slowly eating the children and the youth of Tanauan away. He had the opportunity to visit government run schools in the district, particularly, Sambat Elementary School and neighboring barangays (villages). He got to see its library, met its principals and spoke with the mayor of Tanauan for possible charity work in the area. Undaunted, he gathered the help of friends and relatives, raised funds, asked for donations and set the gears in motion. In the same year, the Sambat Trust Scholarship Programme was born along with the Sambat Trust Library Project.
To date, Sambat Trust has built five functional libraries in five schools in Tanauan namely, Sambat Elementary School, Talaga Elementary School, Santor Elementary School, Banadero Elementary School and, its current library project, Wawa Elementary School. The stages and the progress of these school libraries are being monitored and supervised on a regular basis. Photos, articles and activities about the development of these school libraries may be read and viewed at Sambat Trust’s blog: http://sambattrust.blogspot.com/
A Glimpse of Joy
Joy Villaflor is a new scholar of Sambat Trust for school year 2010-2011. She is in fifth grade at Sambat Elementary School. She lives with her parents, Benjamin and Noralyn, and her three siblings, Zeus, Eyt and Adelene in a 20 sq. meter house made of wood and cement. Everything is inside that small space – living room, kitchen, bedroom and dining room. For water, they fetch from a well that they share with a neighbor. The government rural health unit provides the family with health care much like everyone else in the community.
Benjamin has no work at all since he has been sick for a while. Noralyn is a household help earning Php 2,000.00 per month. This meager salary goes to basic needs on food, clothing and provisions for shelter. Benjamin and Noralyn could only hope for a good education for their children.
Joy, their eldest, keeps their hope alive despite limited income and resources. She goes to school every day fueled with the same dream her parents have for her.
Step by Step
Setting up school libraries and funding scholars are but two of the basic strategies that Sambat Trust has put in place to achieve its mission. The future holds so many possibilities for its beneficiaries and foster children.
In the coming years, more literacy activities are envisioned to take shape in its adopted schools. Writing contests and reading recitals; book making projects and storytelling sessions are some examples. These are activities perfect for the schools with functional libraries. Parent support is essential too. A home-learning program for parents can help a lot in establishing a learning environment for children even before they go to school. The plausibility to conduct adult education sessions that will economically empower parents of scholars is a dream as well. Tutorial sessions for scholars are being considered too. It is not enough that they go to school. A follow through on the their academic and formative development is important for a holistic approach to learning.
Sambat Trust values children. And it will keep its word.