Together in Hope works in three communities in the Philippines; Upper Javier, Bicol, and Malis providing nutritional and educational support, health support and livelihood training. Together in Hope began working in Malis in 2008 establishing the Jessica’s Table program. This program was created in memory of Jessica Wright Pottinger, who passed peacefully from this life into the arms of heaven in December 2008. Jessica loved serving little children, and she lived her life with the openness and enthusiasm of a child even in life’s darkest hours. Many of the world’s children live continuously in the dark hour of hunger and hopelessness. Jessica’s Table has been created in loving memory of Jessica to feed the world’s children in her name.
Jessica’s Table is running in Upper Javier, Bicol and Malis feeding over 900 children each week. The food is bought and cooked by local community volunteers who then prepare the food and serve it to the children. Through Jessica’s Table, children receive essential nutrients, and their health is improved. Together in Hope seeks to provide the children with highly healthy food that is affordable and readily available in the local community.
Children ages 4-16 are receiving basic educational support through tutorial support. Local high school and university students volunteer and teach the children once a week and assist them with their educational needs. In 2010, the government passed an act where all children are required to attend preschool before they can be accepted into the local schools. For many of the families in Upper Javier and Bicol, they cannot afford to send their children to preschool. At the request of the communities, Together in Hope facilitated the opening of a preschool in these two communities. The preschools are run by local volunteer teachers. There are over 100 children enrolled in the schools and once they finish preschool, they can now attend the local schools.
For almost 90% of the people living in Bicol, Malis and Upper Javier, they cannot afford to see a doctor. Many rely on traditional methods to treat illness which actually makes the illness worse. Together in Hope brings medical personnel from the USA to work with local Filipino medical volunteers to provide free health care in each community up to twice a year. To date, over 2,000 adults and children have been seen and treated by our doctors and dentists. Our local staff is also teaching preventative healthcare classes each week to the children and women living in each community. Topics include hygiene at home, and personal hygiene, through these classes the spread of disease has been reduced.
A sewing program has been developed for the women in Upper Javier and Bicol. Women are learning to sew items such as dresses for their children, bags and school uniforms. The women are hoping to start their own small business where they can sell the items and use the money to support their families. This program is self sustainable as the women must pay a certain percentage back into the program to pay for maintenance of the sewing machines and to buy materials.
Micro Credit Program
Together in Hope have has launched a new micro credit program for two communities in the Philippines who have lost everything due to Typhoon Yolanda.The project aims to provide the beneficiaries a very significant opportunity to increase income by working together to revive their mussel or “tahong” farming which can be harvested twice a year. In between harvests, the beneficiaries earn their daily income from catching fish and crab using “bentolan”, a 2x1x1 feet cage usually made of bamboo or aluminum wire used to catch crabs around their tahong farm. There are many crabs around the areas of the farm because they get food dripping from “tahong” bivalves. A portion of the tahong harvest will be processed into tahong crackers or kropek by the women in the communities. The tahong crackers preparation will be enriched with moringa to make it more nutritious and ideal snacks for school children. The crackers will be marketed locally in the poblacion or town proper and in other town centers. Towards this, a marketing cooperation will be undertaken between the organization and an urban poor organization in Tacloban city.Even before typhoon Haiyan, the people in the communities have their own traditional practices in working together without spending cash for labor. Using their local dialects they name this practice as: “araglayon,” “burubligay”, ‘tiklos” and “pintakasi”. Thus, when the community people hear these calls from their leader, each one will volunteer to help in the different work such as clearing the areas for planting, carry the materials needed to the project site, prepare the poles to be used in the tahong farm and other related tasks. This practice proves that working together will help them cope with their situation.Where feasible, the families will maximize family labor also by raising chicken and pigs in their backyard or nearby farm.