Let the rhythm out!

Musical therapy has been recently launched at the SDC within the frame of the educational program focusing on individual development. This new activity is a natural follow-up of the activities already in place at the SDC, such as aikido practice and art therapy, both aiming at promoting self-expression and social development for these vulnerable children and youth.

Thanks to LEAD Volunteer (League for Environmental Advocate for sustainable Development), a local not-for-profit organization, this music project has been started at the SDC. Sandra and Daryl, two of their active volunteers and members of the Punta Tay Tay Drum Beaters band, brought their drums and other percussion instruments to introduce the children with their music. The whole band first held a concert at the SDC on December 1st. Following the positive feedback from the children, they have started organizing three music sessions per week. The young participants have been practicing on the bamboo drums made by Sandra.

The objective of this music project is to prepare the children to perform in front of a public. The attempt schedule is to have the children ready by March 2013 for the next Family Day, which will be the opportunity to play for their families and friends.

The musical therapy aims at encouraging the children to express their feelings in another way than through violence or anger. It also promotes mutual respect and communication to get successfully involved in a group. It should help increase the self-confidence of the children, as well as their ability to follow social norms and collective behaviors.


Organic gardening

Negros Island is a reference in terms of organic agriculture in the whole Philippines. Therefore the region holds the necessary know-how to transform the SDC's existing garden into an integrated organic learning and experimenting area.

Upon the recent partnership with CAPGEM, Capitol Government Employees Multi-Purpose Cooperative, the team in charge of community development within CAPGEM has been supporting the SDC to set-up an organic garden within its premices. This garden represents the opportunity for the children cared at the SDC to grow their own fruits and vegetables, to be served directly at their table.

The local agriculturist, Mrs. Edna Garde, from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA), has been promoting the benefits of organic agriculture for over 15 years. She is regularly sharing her knowledge and advice to the public through a local radio station. Mrs. Edna accepted with enthusiasm to get involved at the SDC on a weekly basis. Since October, she has been holding activities at the SDC every Thursday, with the objective of educating and raising awareness of the children on the importance of gardening to feed oneself on a daily basis while promoting the protection of the environment.

The following topics will be addressed with the young students throughout the sessions: how to enrich the soil with compost, preparation of plots and containers, concoction of natural fertilizers, effects of pesticides and chemicals, laying out of the gardening area, solid waste management, etc.
All the participants have showed great interest from the very beginning of this activity and they are now used to take care of the garden everyday. The first outcomes are very promising: eggplants, squash, and chinese cabbage are growing fast thanks to the suitable local climate.

The initial part of this training intends to provide the children with actual gardening skills, which might help them to find a job when they return to the community. In the Philippines, there are indeed over 30% of agriculturists. Mrs. Edna also wishes to maintain her support throughout the year in order to share the love of the earth and healthy food with as many underpriviledged children as possible. With all these fruits and vegetables to be prepared, the SDC's cook and his young assistants won't be out of work in 2013!


SDC's Family Day

On Saturday, 22nd of September was organized the very special Family Day, an event gathering all the families and friends of the children catered at the SDC for a festive and playful reunion. Every child and member of the team was very excited and nervous to see how the day will turn out. It was actually very successful as 26 families came to the SDC to support the children during that difficult period of detention.

The volunteers from Lifegate involved themselves and organized the first games, dance and music performances in the morning, with the participation of every child, family and staff member of the SDC. Lunch was a collective sharing from families and from the City with a whole assortment of local specialties: chicken and porc adobo, valenciana, bihon, afritada, etc. In the afternoon, Mrs Gina  F. Castro, Center Head of the SDC, introduced the art creations made by the children during the art therapy sessions held by Pastor Arthur Bayles, a local artist from Bacolod City involved at the SDC. The emotion was high among the families as the art topic focused on the children's life, dreams and family.
This discussion was followed by a movie about the relationship between parents and children. Afterward, the 'FUN' took over the SDC with the organization of basket-ball and collective games, which everyone took part of in a happy atmosphere: children and their families, university interns from UNO-R, SDC's team members, volunteers from Virlanie-Bacolod and Peace Corps, members from Lifegate Congregation, etc. The snack (locally called “merienda”) was offered by HOST-NGO to be shared with all the participants. The celebration ended with a “karaoke party”, which was the opportunity for the children to sing and dance with their friends until the night came along.

Life at SDC can be pretty hard as most of the children bring along their issues and difficult background. However this type of event helps them to share moments of pure youthful joy and leaves a warm feeling of love in their heart.


Art therapy program

Hardly encouraged to express themselves and not really used to being congratulated for their actions, the children cared at the SDC often have low self-esteem, which may result in anger and violence. It is actually the usual reason why they are admitted at the center.
Following a long-term observation period, Virlanie-Bacolod's team has assessed the increasing need of the children to express themselves via artcrafts and leisure activities: drawing, painting, cutting, modeling, in a word, the need for CREATION. As a complement to the educational and training program implemented at the SDC, it is indeed necessary to focuse also on individual development, which is part of the rehabilitation process.

For a month now, Pastor Arthur Bailes, a local and active artist of Bacolod City who is running CANVAS Gallery, has been proposing his voluntary services at the SDC to hold art therapy sessions for the benefit of every interested child. This new activity has been very successful from the start as 30 children regularly attend the weekly sessions.

The objective of Pastor Arthur is to encourage the children to create and develop ideas of their own on various topics. The first sessions have been focusing on the family and the children were taught how to draw their own cartoon story. Each child was able to address this topic with his own emotions and creative abilities. The children had the final goal of presenting their cartoons to their families on the Family Day, to be held end of September at the SDC. In addition, our psychology interns from the University UNO-R will use this material to better understand the children's profiles in order to address their issues over the psychological support program to be started in November.

The following sessions will be organized around the Masskara Festival, happening in October in Bacolod City. This will be the opportunity to set-up a workshop to make masks out of clay to be decorated with bright and joyful colors. Afterward, Pastor Arthur will conduct mural painting sessions, which will allow the children to bring colors to their housing facilities right at the SDC!


AIKIDO: how to reach harmony and peace

Thanks to the involvement of Warriors For Peace (W4P), a local non-profit organization specialized in conflict resolution and prevention, an aikido program has been implemented for a few weeks already at the SDC. Based on weekly sessions, the volunteers from W4P intend to use this martial art as a mean of pacifying the children and promoting a non-violent approach to deal with conflict. Noël, the Senseï (master teacher), and his two students, Kenneth and Sol, are educating the children and youth of the SDC on aikido's ethical and philosophical frame. In addition to the actual practice, there is also a whole set of rules and values to be observed by the participants.

Aikido, initially created by the Japanese Morihei Ueshiba, means “the way of harmonizing with the universal energy”. This statement is the actual basis of the educational program conducted by W4P at the SDC. Principles and virtues to be taught include humility and gratitude, respect for others, empathy, harmony and cooperation, reconciliation, openness, and integrity. W4P team is using innovative methods to teach and integrate aikido and its unique properties in addressing how the children react to, respond to, work with, and handle issues and difficulties.

The first sessions have been dedicated to teach the children how to avoid conflict and confrontation facing an opponent, and how to select the best strategy to stop him or her. This is not an easy thing to do for these children who often react to violence with more violence, without even thinking of the possible consequences of their actions. They also have to reject their competitive instinct as aikido does not involve any kind of competition and there shall be no fight.

After a few sessions, an increasing number of children are getting voluntarily involved into the activity, even though they were shy and discreet at first. We noticed a great improvement in terms of behavior as the children are more and more focused, listening quietly, participating with calm and positive energy, and showing greater self-control. The volunteers encourage the children to feel more responsible and they expect some of them to progressively step in to lead the activity very soon.

In addition, W4P will dedicate some time to educate and train the team members of SDC relating to conflict understanding and transformation. They would like to increase their capacity to constructively approach conflict and advocate changes toward a non-violent approach.


In English, please!

Within the frame of the integrated educational program implemented at the SDC, activities dedicated to promote English language have been launched at the beginning of June. In addition to the tutorial sessions held by the students from Riverside University, the children and youth have now access to English lessons held three times a week by a French volunteer. The learning program is emphasizing on developing the children's abilities to communicate in English, on both oral and written basis. The first sessions allowed them to learn or review the basics : how to introduce oneself and one another in a simple yet effective language. The children were encouraged to express themselves without any shame in front of the class. Upon the first month, they were more and more enthusiastic to speak out in English during and also outside the study sessions. Every activity lasts about an hour and a half and includes exercises focused on grammar, pronounciation, conjugation, as well as recreational activities such as games or songs, and the use of any interactive way to stimulate individual creativity and encourage the children's participation. From July onward, the English activities will be held twice a week according to the availability of the volunteer.


Mudpack spirit at SDC

Following the mudpack festival organized every year in June in Mambukal, an hour away from Bacolod City, the children recreated the spirit of this celebration within the SDC !
On June 26th, the young people, staff members and volunteers from Virlanie-Bacolod took the opportunity to paint themselves and wear some eco-friendly outfits, made of cardboard and other recyclable materials. The activity topic of the day was the making of cameras from cardboard with the help of Amélie, one of the volunteers. The children learnt how to make the camera from scratch, cutting and assembling the different pieces, and incorporating a silver film within each small boxes. Upon the finalization of these home-made cameras, the children spent the whole afternoon posing in their outfits and make-up. This was actually a very special experiment from the children as they had to stay still for at least 10 seconds in order to avoid blurred and fuzzy pictures... which was not so easy to do! Here are the results of this fun and educational activity...


Involvement of Bacolod City Livelihood Department at SDC

Virlanie-Bacolod has been working in collaboration with the City of Bacolod to support the vulnerable children within the Social Development Center (SDC). It was then justified to contact some of the city departments to suggest their involvement for the benefit of the children at risk. It is indeed the strategy to call for every type of partner, private and public ones, as well as the civil society, to be committed to rehabilitate and train the children and youth, for a successful community integration and empowerment.

The City Cooperation and Livelihood Department Office has decided to join this intervention and proposed to organize training sessions at the SDC. In May, the children were offered to learn how to make jewelry (earings, necklaces, bracelets and rings) thanks to the city employees from this department.
The training has a double objective: providing them with skills and knowledge, which could be used in their adult life, and also empowering the children to increase their self-esteem and personal confidence. This is a critical asset to be considered in terms of individual development and life accomplishment.


Legal awareness of the children at SDC

Jovi Cabcaban, Head of Woman and Child
Desk Police Department
Often in conflict with the law, the children taken in charge at the Social Development Center (SDC), tend to forget that they have rights and need protection, even though they are suspected or guilty of committing an offense. Many children are actually transferred at the SDC because of a lack of guidance and follow-up.
Therefore Virlanie-Bacolod team has proposed to organize awareness sessions at the SDC to inform the children about their rights and duties in the society. The first session was held at the end of April by Mrs. Jovi Cabcaban, Head of Woman and Child Desk Police Department of Bacolod City.
The information along with the answers to the questions asked by the children should help the children to better understand their own situation and issues. The objective is also to make sure that they are able to claim the respect of the right to be protected from any kind of abuse. Considering the very positive feedback from the young participants, the sessions will be continued on a regular basis, with the support from Mrs Jovin, and possibly from IBP lawyers (Integrated Bar of Philippines), or students from the department of Criminology Justice of UNO-R University, partners of Virlanie-Bacolod.


Riverside University partners with SDC

Educational activity: reviewing the values
Recreational activity: 
organization of a birthday party
Since March and upon the initiative from Virlanie-Bacolod, Riverside University (private institution) has become an active partner at the SDC. The objective of this collaboration is to help the children and youth to become responsible and active members of the community by addressing various topics dedicated to promote individual development. Volunteering students from Riverside University are offering services of medical, therapy and hygiene support, while focusing on behavior and values, especially social and spiritual ones.

Individual counseling session

For a few months now, the children have been provided with educational and recreational activities, psychological group/individual counseling, and awareness sessions dedicated to hygiene promotion. Numerous topics and intervention areas will be addressed in the following sessions, such as tutorial activities aiming at maintaining or improving the school level of the children, as well as medical consultations in order to ensure good health for every child at the SDC.

In addition to the energy and commitment of the volunteers, the children have been provided with hygiene supplies and snacks upon every intervention.

Collective therapy session
(using drawing to express the perception of oneself)


Comprehensive program of daily activities and skill training at SDC

Virlanie Foundation started supporting the Social Development Center (SDC) in January. The involvement of the team deployed in Bacolod City includes the facilitation of daily activities aiming at promoting the children's individual development and well-being.

At the SDC, the children stay for a period of time which can be extended from a few days to one or two whole years. During that “detention period”,  the children are left out of the formal schooling system and other educational programs. Considering that situation, Virlanie-Bacolod team has prioritized the need to protect these children from the society's challenges, and to offer them better chances for future reintegration into their families and into the community.

The team has been collaborating, for a few months already, with the Center Head, Mrs Gina F. Castro, and her local staff, to design and implement a comprehensive program of educational and recreational activities. The activities are currently organized by the center's nurse with the assistance of the house parents, responsible for the children's supervision. Every morning, the children have access to a whole range of activities, which include tutoring, artcrafts, and sport activities. In addition, skill training sessions are organized several times a week in order to provide the children with practical skills and possibly initiate a future vocation: manicure, cooking, bamboo crafts, etc.

Virlanie-Bacolod's mission is to facilitate the sound implementation of the activity program, while encouraging local initiatives from the SDC's team members. The ultimate objective is indeed to increase their involvement and commitment to provide daily follow-up and support to the children.