ALABEL, Sarangani (March 9, 2020) – The Latter-Day Saint Charities (LDSC) has turned over approximately 17,400 books to the provincial government of Sarangani for the 58 Last Mile Schools beneficiaries, including 13 Indigenous People (IP) schools through the Department of Education.
“This is to fulfill our commitment to the project we call the ‘Last Mile Schools.’ We are trying to provide as being requested by the provincial leaders to help those far-flung schools that have no access to library materials,” said Jairus Perez, country director of LDSC-Philippines, during the turnover on March 5.
According to Perez, “this is the first project in the province with regards to giving books” to schools especially those in the remote areas.
The project targets to help support the education of the children “lalo na yung mga batang medyo napabayaan ng panahon” because of their location, especially the IP.
The books will serve as “references” not textbooks for the students, to encourage them to read, develop a love for it, and eventually develop their reading skills.
A Deed of Donation was also signed by both parties, the LDSC as the Donor and the provincial government as the Donee.
Approximately 300 used books will be given to every identified “last mile school" and a total number of 120 plastic storage bins for the 58 beneficiaries, which are 13 schools in Alabel, eight in Malapatan, seven in Glan, 12 in Malungon, six in Maasim, eight in Kiamba, and four in Maitum.
Perez said the books and the storage bins have an estimate total cost of “$25,000 or about P1.2M.”
“The Lord Jesus Christ came to earth for our brothers and sisters who are underprivileged, to give them somehow hope, and with these little things we are doing right now, the projects like this, we know the children will really benefit from it,” Perez added.
LDSC has been a partner of Sarangani since 2008 with projects like mobility devices, including wheelchairs and prosthesis, tutoring flashcards, laminating machines and films, and tutoring booklets for the School-Based Tutorial Program in the province.
Perez pointed out that “10 schools division in the country” have already replicated the SBT program in Sarangani “with our support, and all of them are really very grateful.”
The School-Based Tutorial Program was first executed in the province in the year 2014-2015, with the support of LDSC, to help reduce the large number of struggling and non-readers in Sarangani through the help of the tutors.
Now, Sarangani has a total of 7,704 tutors and 12,104 tutees in the seven municipalities.
On the other hand, Elder and Sister Owen, LDSC volunteers from Utah, have ended their two-year volunteer work in the Philippines on March 5.
The Owens shared their experience and commended the leadership of Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon for being “a phenomenal leader to recognize that education is so important for the children.”
“The people we have worked with here are so supportive and we love to work with them. When we call them, they get back right to us, and they just make the projects go easily,” said Sister Owen when asked what is about Sarangani that they love.
The Owens will be replaced by another couple volunteers, Elder and Sister Hadley from Idaho, who have already expressed their excitement to “help the people here” in the future projects.
Elder Hadley said they “will try very hard to fill the big hole that the Owens has left, and I know that we will work diligently to somehow make an impact like how they did.”
“I am impressed with the dedication that I can see that all of you have for your children in your areas, I just think it is marvelous,” said Sister Hadley, who is known to be working in the schools back in Idaho.
From 2015-2018, struggling readers in Sarangani was already reduced by 43% and non-readers by 54%. (Jori Mae Samillano/SARANGANI COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE)