Coming alongside our Badjao friends these past seven years, we've had more than a few setbacks. Children have died, parents have been killed, young teens in our program decided to leave school and get married. But the last few months have been different. A steady stream of good news!
- Lorna and Madonna, the first ever in the community to attend college, were helped with a college scholarship the last 5 years and graduated in October! With a Criminology degree, they'll enter the police academy next year.
- Our short-term team of health professionals successfully taught more than a 100 kids health and hygiene basics (a big deal with communicable diseases that have been fatal with kids).
- With a lot of community support, we are now helping 140 kids get to school everyday. To help oversee this expansion, we've hired a part-time interim Executive Director, Mr. Ronnie Saguit. He has both the heart and organizational skills to help us expand even further.
- We are finally moving forward on our Lighthouse Project - with a serendipitous change of plans!
We ambitiously planned a three-story preschool, office, livelihood training center and storm shelter during typhoons. To no avail, we have spent two years trying to resolve a thorny road access issue which prevented us from starting construction. Our latest plan is to scale down our Lighthouse Center to a size that can be constructed without a road for construction equipment. This one-story building, with the option for a second story later, will break by April 2017!
Because this building will not cost as much as we planned, we were able to purchase a second property for another Badjao community that desperately needed land to build their huts. The 3.2 acre ocean front property can accommodate more than 120 families. In the Lighthouse spirit of providing a refuge for sea-dwellers, this expansion to the second location was fortuitous - we're now helping two communities instead of just one!
Shown above are some of the families visiting the property we purchased in November. After we build enough toilets, (with their sweat equity) they will be able to move!
Shown here below is an aerial shot of the property. After years of renting beach space from land owners, they will finally be able to settle on their own property.