By John Coffey, IT Tender Team Leader
(April 26, 2019)
School is out for the summer in Manila, but the children are still hungry to learn. During the months of April and May, the learning continues at IT Tender with our summer projects and events. The temperature reaches almost 40 degrees celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), but that doesn’t stop the children from packing into our drop-in center every day to learn more about literacy, music, dance, cooking and more.
Most of the summer projects are taught and led by our very own youth – who are sponsored to go to school by donors and friends of IT Tender. In addition to the youth, we were pleased to have volunteers from the Philippines and Canada.
Scroll below to learn more about ER partner IT Tender.
IT Tender Preps 220 Kids For School
(July 6, 2018)
We love it when ER partners stretch funds to meet more needs than expected. IT Tender (ITT), which serves the families living in squatter communities and settlements in metro Manila, negotiated hard to turn school funds designed to meet the needs of 164 kids into 220 kids!
IT Tender’s John Coffey shares:
Words aren’t enough to express how grateful the children, families and communities are for the new school supplies provided through ER and your incredible efforts! Because we had so many children who need school supplies and they come from three different slum communities, we gave out the supplies over several days from June 9-13.
We know you sent funds for us to provide school supplies for 164 students (per our request). However, our Filipino team did an incredible job haggling at the big market (called “divisoria”, the largest public market in the Philippines). We bought great quality items in bulk and we were actually able to purchase comprehensive school supplies for 220 students.
Another thing we appreciate about IT Tender is its excellent documentation. Here’s how the school supplies were distributed:
Group A (70 students)
70 of the students are very regular attendees of our programs and we are intentionally mentoring and tutoring those 70 students at our center. These students were each given a set amount of funds and they went “school supply shopping” with their parent or guardian in which they were able to pick out the specific school supplies that they needed for this year.
Some kids purchased new uniforms, school shoes, backpacks or other school supplies. It was very empowering for them to select the items they want/need (e.g., a student may want their favorite “Hello Kitty” backpack, or if they may decide they have enough notebooks this year but need more pens, etc). They then returned to our center after shopping to submit the receipts and to proudly show off their new items.
Group B (150 students)
The other 150 students are part of our programs but attend occasionally. These kids come to our center to use our free library and computers/Internet/printing to do their school assignments and attend major events only. For these students, our staff purchased their school supplies in bulk and put together a comprehensive kit.
The list of school supplies has a few variations from what North American kids need, although much is the same. Children around the world deserve an opportunity to attend school, use the same educational tools as other students, and compete at the same level as their peers. Our plan is to see these kids will graduate, live sustainable and fulfilling lives, and contribute greatly to their communities and society.
ER continues to raise funds to provide 1,000 kids with school supplies this year and we still have a ways to go. Through June 2018, we’ve raised enough funds to provide for 427 children! Would you help us provide for the rest of the kids?
$33 allows us to purchase the packs and supplies and transport them to the field. $99 will give three kids the chance to stay in school, $990 will provide for 30 kids. Any amount will help. If you can help, click here to donate. Or, send your check to ER School Packs, P.O. Box 345, Snellville, GA 30078-0345. ER will provide a receipt for your donation.
Stitching is Enriching
(Feb. 12, 2018)
ER loves to leverage relationships with our partners to maximize impact. The following story is a great example. ER operates the Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program which teaches vulnerable women sewing and business skills so they can help provide for their families. IT Tender serves struggling communities through education, skills training, nutrition and more. By working together, IT Tender was able to place three women into the current Golden Hands training course.
By John Coffey, IT Tender Team Leader
(Sept. 27, 2018)
For many poor Filipino families, the mother is the fiber that holds the fabric of the family together. A long list of problems threatens to unravel the family – unemployment, poor health, substance abuse, domestic abuse, and more. Nevertheless, through her wisdom and resourcefulness, a mother does her best to provide and make a better future for her children. At IT Tender, our expertise is empowerment through education. Education doesn’t begin or end in the classroom, and it doesn’t end at a certain age. Mothers in our communities are hungry to learn more practical skills, some of which our staff aren’t always equipped to teach. This is why we partner with other organizations in a variety of fields, including skills and livelihood training.
One of our partners, Extreme Response, runs a program called Golden Hands for urban poor mothers in Manila. This program mentors struggling mothers while training them to use sewing as an income-generating sideline for their families. They meet once a week, encouraging one another and practicing basic sewing and pattern making for skirts, bags, aprons and much more.
Program director Anne Benavidez created Golden Hands with a holistic vision. Her passion is to empower women not only by developing skills, but also by developing self-confidence and trusted relationships. Three mothers with children in IT Tender’s programs are currently attending Golden Hands, and we’re proud of the growth they’ve experienced through the program.
IT Tender Responds to Extreme Crises
(Feb. 12, 2018)
IT Tender, an ER partner serving in three impoverished communities in suburban Manila, had a busy year in 2017. In fact, its work vividly illustrated the very idea behind the words “Extreme Response.”
One of those communities, Napacor, was reduced to rubble from a fire. (Pictured at right are before and after images.) Each of the 50 homes was destroyed in less than an hour. Thankfully, each family escaped with no injuries. However, most lost everything they owned – shelter, food and clothing. IT Tender was able to provide each of these families with extensive relief kits, which included food, cooking utensils, clothing, sleeping mats, blankets, pillows, sandals and more.
Another community, Upper Sucat, was demolished so the land could be developed into a commercial property. Some 100 families were left without a home. Many were able to save their belongings and move out safely before the demolition, but some lost belongings and others lost family businesses, such as sari-sari (variety) stores and farm land.
IT Tender was able to assist these families in finding or building new homes, and with the help of a $2,500 donation from ER, also funded livelihood projects that would help the families move forward with a sustainable income.
IT Tender’s social worker and community development staff engaged the families through group orientations and individual meetings. Beneficiaries presented their plans for a business or livelihood project. Many were re-starting a business or livelihood they had lost due to the fire or demolition, such as a variety store or canteen/restaurant. Others presented plans based on their skills and background. IT Tender continues to follow up with the beneficiaries to track their wellbeing and success.
Following are images and testimonials from some of the beneficiaries of ER and IT Tender aid.
“I support my children through a manicure-and-pedicure home service. However, in the wake of the fire, the income I earn is not enough to provide for all of my family’s needs. I thus proposed a second venture in which I would sell clothing from a booth in the market and also at my home service. ER provided the capital I needed to establish this sideline, and now I can support my family and their needs. Thank you ER.” – Sherryl Arevallo
“I am so glad that we are part of IT Tender. They were the first ones came to our rescue and offered us temporary shelter. Through IT Tender we were able to receive clothes, hygiene, food and more. No matter what we felt, we knew they are always there to support us. From the bottom of my heart, I’m very thankful to IT Tender, to Extreme Response, to the local government, and to the rest of the people who helped us. I learned to never give up, even when you lose everything.”
– Jericho Bitayong (IT Tender sponsored child)
“The fire was a severe trial that I never imagined would happen to my family. My children were crying. I told them not to be sorry for all the things that we lost, but instead be grateful because we are all safe. Having a complete family is priceless. My children are part of IT Tender, which is a very great help for us. Through the organization and through ER, I was able to start a small business and also receive assistance in fixing our new house.” – Genelyn Impas
“After the fire, I was so afraid and worried about where my children would live because I am a single parent. IT Tender and ER were there to help us during and after the fire. They assisted us in finding a home and starting a small store, which is a very big help for us in order to survive and provide for our daily needs and pay our rent.” – Precila Viagedor
“My family and I, and others who are survivors of the fire are very thankful to Extreme Response and to the people behind it. If not because of them, my family wouldn’t have a home. I am so grateful to all who helped us.” – Kimberly Morales
NAPACOR Fire Victims Finding Homes
There’s good news among the devastation that hit the NAPACOR Tower community in April. After losing their homes to a massive fire and being told they cannot rebuild in that location, many of the families are getting resettled.
With a lot of help from ER partner IT Tender (ITT), families have been able to move to new housing and in some cases, new businesses. ITT went far beyond its mission by helping relocate and transition many of the families.
Rita, her husband and her two sons were one such family. After the fire, they found a simple home to rent near the elementary school the boys attended. However, they were anxious about whether they could afford rent and daily expenses on their small income. Rita’s husband works in construction and she has always stayed home to cook, clean and hand wash their laundry.
Rita came up with the idea to build a simple convenience store at the front of their new home. IT Tender helped supply the materials for the store, a freezer for cold drinks, and other initial products to sell. Rita is now successfully managing the store and supporting the family through this business.
Jizza Magallanes-Malquisto, program manager and social worker, recently shared first-hand reports from some of the fire victims, including Jericho, Rita’s oldest son:
Jericho, 13-years-old and a beneficiary of IT Tender’s Sponsor-A-Child program:
I remembered that my mother was urging me to wake up, which was unusual. She shouted at me to run because there’s a fire. So I immediately ran down the stairs and even forgot to put on sandals. I tried to go back to our house to retrieve some things but there was too much smoke, and we also heard an explosion caused by the gas tank of our neighbor.
My mother asked me to watch over my younger brother because she was trying to get a few clothes. I was starting to see with both my eyes how the fire consumed our house. That’s when I realized how hard it is to lose a home. We were still crying after the fire died down. What added to our pain was that the owner of the electric tower was yelling at us and telling us that we can never go back.
My family and I chose to stand up again after that trial. I am so glad that we are part of IT Tender. They are the first ones who rescued us and offered us a temporary shelter. A lot of people were helping us, and through IT Tender we were able to receive clothes, hygiene, food and more. No matter what we felt, we knew they are always there to support us. I even cried when I learned that we will have our own store again, and this time it is better than our store in Napacor. From the bottom of my heart, I’m very thankful to IT Tender, to the local government, and to the rest of the people who helped us. I learned to never give up, even when you lose everything.
Genelyn, mother of 6 children:
“The fire is a severe trial that I never imagined would happen to my family. It was an ordinary morning for us and we were having our breakfast when we heard our dog barking wildly, and it was very noisy outside.
I asked my son to check what was the commotion about. When he came back he was shouting ‘Fire!’ I urgently told my children to go outside while I carried my then 3-month old baby. I was panicking because there was no one to help me. My husband was working. I tried to go back to our house and save important documents.
My children were crying. I told them not to be sorry for all the things that we lost but instead be grateful because we are all safe. And having a complete family is priceless. After the fire died down, I couldn’t help but felt depressed when I realized we had lost our home for 15 years.
My children are part of IT Tender which is a great help for us. Through the organization, I was able to start a small business and also receive assistance in fixing our new house. I praise God because of His goodness, for saving my whole family, and for helping us to start over.
NAPACOR Village Burns To the Ground
(April 19, 2017 update)
A huge, tragic fire swept through the squatter community of NAPACOR Village yesterday leaving hundreds homeless. Miraculously, there was no loss of life.
The NAPACOR community is very familiar to Extreme Response because our partner IT Tender is located next door and has taken many visitors to meet the residents. IT Tender serves the community by providing educational support and much more.
Here’s what IT Tender’s John Coffey has shared so far: Urgent help and prayers are needed for NAPACOR – one of three urban poor communities we serve. Today the entire community was reduced to rubble by a fire that engulfed all of the homes in less than an hour.
Thankfully each family is safe and no one was seriously injured. However, most of these families lost everything and are literally without shelter, food and clothing. Since the need is immediate, we are already purchasing items for “relief kits” that we will give to each family.
Safe “Nightlife” Trumps Risky Street Life for Boy
(Feb. 12, 2016)
By John Coffey
IT Tender Director
William, an 11-year old boy living in a squatter community in the Manila suburb of Putatan, initially came to IT Tender through a nutrition program called Food For Life.
One day, William stopped attending Food For Life and instead began spending time with a gang of older youth. Karin Jose, the nutrition program’s coordinator, repeatedly visited and followed up with William, doing her best to encourage him to return to the program, but he seemed more interested in hanging out in the streets.
The nutrition program ended after a year, but IT Tender staff wanted to maintain the relationships with children who had been a part of it. They decided to establish an evening drop-in program called Nightlife in which kids could continue enjoying healthy meals and also be tutored in their studies.
Jam Coffey, who began at IT Tender as a volunteer teacher in Food For Life, become the head teacher of Nightlife in the Putatan and Alabang communities. Jam attended an extensive training course at the Institute for Foundational Learning to help develop her teaching skills. Incorporating what she learned at the Institute, she introduced a curriculum at Nightlife called SSRW (Sing, Spell, Read and Write), and she also began sharing stories with moral lessons.
Upon conducting an enrollment and diagnostic test for the Nightlife children, Jam was surprised to see William among the enrollees. In her conversations with him, she found him shy and clearly ashamed about his past behavior, but she welcomed him with open arms and quickly made him feel comfortable being part of IT Tender’s programs again.
Now William is one of the early birds at each Nightlife session, holds a perfect attendance record, is active in lessons and achieves high scores in the exams. Most importantly, he is proving to be a good listener, and is kind to others. The IT Tender staff also recently discovered he has a talent in singing and dancing; the excitement he brings from that is contagious to the other children.
It has been a joy to witness William’s new journey. In just a short time back at IT Tender, he is transforming from a caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly!
ER partner IT Tender seeks to empower children to become educated and responsible leaders in their community.