Partnering with other NGOs, Staffhouse International gives hope to Philippine children who swim to school.
The “Children of the Marsh” or the kids living in the surrounding area of Liguasan Marsh in the towns of Pagalungan and Datu Montawal, Maguindanao, no longer have to hitch a banca ride from fisher folks or swim their way to school since they received beautiful gifts from their uncles and aunties of the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation (YBHF).
A total of 80 paddle boats (bancas) were given to the students and one motorized boat for teachers was given away by the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation (YBHF) on Sunday, December 7, 2014. Fifteen of these bancas came from the Staffhouse International Resources, a Filipino-owned international recruitment agency that has long been supporting the YBHF in its mission to provide better access to education for children in the poorest and most deprived areas in the Philippines.
Jeffrey Mendez, chief implementer of YBHF in the Cotabato area said, “The boats will serve as school buses for the students.
“About 6 to 10 pupils can ride each banca. This is a big help to take the students to school and from school back to their houses,” Mendez said.
The Staffhouse gave paddle boats for the students of Zapakan Elementary School and Balungis National High School, two of the eight schools that have benefited from YBHF’s outreach project, which also includes Balungis Elementary School, Kalbugan Elementary School, Lower Baguinged Elementary School, Buliok Elementary School, Buliok National High School and Dalgan Elementary School.
The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia personally witnessed the situation of the students and their families in the marshland, and on the same day, Alamia was assisted by the members of Proud Emergent and Empowered Pinoy (PEEP), as they distributed 10 paddle boats to each of the beneficiary schools.
“It is good that we are able to come here and we are able to address this situation to the concerned agencies and help them to improve through other programs of ARMM,” Alamia cited.
“We are encouraging,” Alamia stressed, “the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Montawal and Pagalungan to submit proposals based on the needs of their municipalities and expect positive response from ARMM Government.”
Alamia also thanked the partner agencies and individuals that donated the paddle boats thru the YBHF including the Staffhouse International Resources.
During the turnover ceremony, students of Balungis National High School, Mohamed Ablal, Morshid Jaman and Sandra Inggod thanked the Staffhouse for the paddle boats. They said these will help them come to school earlier and easier. Now that they have paddle boats, they will no longer be late in their classes since they do not need to wait for fisher folks to pass by their houses so they can hitch a ride.
The Liguasan is a World Heritage site but a marshy area drenched in water and is often affected by heavy flooding.
Airanor Abubaker Datumanong, a teacher and humanitarian who lives in Pikit, said, “the children living in the area are mostly Maguindanaon who are part of the wider Moro ethnic group in Mindanao. The name means people of the flood plains or derived from the two word maginged and danaw which means people of the marshy.”
The Maguindanao are one of many groups of “lowland” Filipinos who arrived on the island of Mindanao during sequential waves of migration from the Southeast Asian mainland several thousand years ago.