The deaf kids are were so excited when December 13 rolled around. They knew that was the day that “Mrs. Clause”, Marilou Drake, and her elves, the IDEA Philippines office staff, would be coming to their dormitories with loads of Christmas gifts.
Most of the gifts that the team delivered were purchased with money given by the individual sponsors of the students and were specifically shopped for from wish lists sent in by the kids. Even if the kids didn’t have a sponsor, IDEA made sure that everyone of the children got some nice presents. There were smiles all around.
Marilou and the Elves also wished the students a Merry Christmas through caroling. You may wonder how the students could appreciate the singing? The carols were also interpreted in sign language and many of the students have some residual hearing so could pick up a little of the music. In addition, all the students got new hearing aids from the Starkey Hearing Foundation just the week before so this was a chance to test them out. A few of the kids had dramatic improvement and could hear quite a lot of the music. Even if it wasn’t crystal clear for everyone, it was the thought that counted. Everyone had a great time.
The kids will be busy this week making thank you cards. IDEA as an organization would also like to thank the sponsors for making this a Merry Christmas.
Here are a few photos of the event and also a video.
Maasin City, Southern Leyte, Philippines, August 21, 2011
Hundreds of deaf children live in isolation in the mountains of Southern Leyte with no chance for an education because of distance and economics. There is only one practical solution to providing them schooling and that is to bring them down to a Special Education Center and give them a place to live while schooling. This has been the strategic starting point for an amazing collaborative effort of establishing a dormitory for deaf children in Maasin, Southern Leyte.
The partners in this project are IDEA, Maasin Department of Education, and Faith Chapel of Billings, Montana. IDEA has provided the road map, coordination and man power, the Department of Education has provided an abandoned building, and Faith Chapel donated $10,000 and sent a team of volunteers to rehab the building.
For the past two years this abandoned building has been used to grow earth worms and produce organic fertilizer. Although it is a worthwhile project, it was a waste of a very good building. It was filled to knee high with soil. On August 9th, a group of 12 Faith Chapel volunteers arrived to take on the challenge of rehabilitating the building. The first thing they did was to wade into the piles of soil, bag it up and transport it out. Some of these bags weighed over 100 pounds and this work took place during a rainstorm. With the roof leaking badly, the soil quickly turned into mud.
IDEA Philippines also sent a team of ten (10) men from its construction group to work side by side with the American volunteers. Most of the men on the IDEA team are deaf and former students under IDEA’s education program.
The entire roof and ceiling of the building needed to be replaced so a group of women on the Montana team were tasked with painting 150 sheets of plywood. With all the mud and paint flying around the work site, by the end of the second day the Montana Team had earned the title of “THE DIRTY DOZEN”.
THE DIRTY DOZEN Chip Crees and Ron Todd
This post is being put up on August 21st and the teams are still working on the building rehab project. The work is being documented by professional videographer, Mark Hanson from Faith Chapel so additional post will be up soon on the continuing progress of the team.
The Faith Chapel team headed back to the U.S. last night leaving Manila about 10:00PM. Although they had to be exhausted after the incredible week of work they put in on the new dormitory, they were in remarkably good spirits. As Ron put it, this rather eclectic group had really become a team and he gave all the credit to Jesus.
It was unclear from the beginning of the work on the dorm as to how extensive the renovation was to be. It was only after the ceilings came down, the old roof taken off, and wall panels removed that they could see the termite damage. It turned out to be significant. Additional trusses had to be made and walls replaced. Despite these additional tasks, the team saw 2/3rds of the work on the dorm completed before they had to leave. The two bedrooms, boy’s and girl’s sides, were clearly defined as well as the kitchen / dining area and the living room area. All the ceilings and walls were in place as well as all the electrical lines were installed. Oh, and we should NOT forget the removal of nearly 8 tons of garbage and soil from the inside and out side of the building.
IDEA’s work crew will now finish up the work on the dorm in hopefully about 10 more days.
Boy’s Bedroom Girl’s Bedroom
Final Group Shot On Last Day In Maasin
Mark catches the action on video The group starts the trip home.
A well earned rest on the outrigger boat to Bohol Island.
By: Francis and Laura Mallorca
IDEA: Southern Leyte, Philiippines
Seven year old Peljune lives with his aging parents and sister in the mountains above Maasin City, Southern Leyte and the city’s SpEd center. IDEA’s transportation allowance is enough for the boy’s fare to and from class, but the extremely rough road makes the trip twice daily nearly impossible. Even if the road was passable, his parents are unable to accompany him because of their poor health and dire poverty. For now, until alternative housing can be arranged, Peljune will not be able to enroll. Despite their disappointment, his parents’ warm welcome during our home visit and gifts of corn and bananas showed their commitment to do whatever they can for their son.
The government red tape involved in setting up this work is huge but it’s worth it. Every second of waiting, every minute in meetings, and every moment spent working toward creating education opportunities and life for the deaf children in Southern Leyte is worth seeing the progress of the program and growth of the newly enrolled students. While in Maasin last week, we had a chance encounter with Peljune and his mother who were down from the mountains to visit his aunt. It was wonderful to see the boy again, and at the same time was a powerful reminder that IDEA’s work here has just begun.
Peljune and many more like him are still in the mountains, waiting for a dormitory and their chance to join their peers, to study, learn and grow like all children should.