Article by: DeeDee Aeschliman
The Philippine Christian Foundation, otherwise known as PCF, was one of the metro-manila ICARE sites that managed to pull through, despite the tough weather conditions that intercepted the spheres of our existence on December the 9th. “The typhoon definitely interefered with our plans” ISSBA pro Sougata Mitra admits, “However I believe that with the help of the administration, teachers, as well as students, ISM was still able to make the best out of ICARE.” Looking back at his experience, Mitra states that he is pleased PCF was able to remain as a feasible ICARE site, as he certainly had a “most delightful time”.
The foundation, established in 2002, is not only a registered British charity, but also a registered charity with the Securities Exchange and Commission department in the Philippines. PCF aims to relieve and alleviate the poverty for children and families who live and work in dumpsites and squatter camps around cemeteries. The charity runs learning centers and schools to help educate and feed some of Philippines’ poorest children.
Surrounding the bright sounds of laughing children that reverberate in the PCF school, are ramshackled slums, battered homes, that dock along a putrid river bank and carry forth the remnants of a garbage dump, where people make their living by rummaging through filth and collecting trash. If one is lucky, one can scrape along 100 pesos (2 dollars) in a day. PCF not only provides immediate relief to the kids that come from these backgrounds, but also provides the education as well as emotional support needed for these kids to attain higher schooling, find jobs, adopt sustainable and healthier forms of livelihood, and break the cycle of poverty.
The ISM students that went to PCF for ICARE were able to witness the magic that keeps this show running. They not only had the chance to interact and play with the children there; they also helped with the various chores and logistics involving PCF’s departments of livelihood. PCF afterall is an organization that does not completely rely on private funds. In fact, many of the family members of the kids in the PCF school are trained to use recycled items, in particular ring-pops, to create jewelry, handbags, and other aesthetically-pleasing crafts. These are then sold to make actual profits which helps to fund and sustain its school and education programs.
All in all, the ISM volunteers were able to confirm their fulfillment, knowing that they had helped a group of people that truly needed aid. “Having the chance to drive down to the PCF site was an eye opening experience,” senior Malvika Subramanium concludes, “I realized how important our donations are in the progress of both the foundation and the lives of the families and students that go there.”