SDC's young skilled gardeners

The dry season started a few weeks ago and the SDC's organic garden has been blooming very fast. Thanks to the involvement of some house parents, dedicated to the protection of the nature, the children are now used to take care of this garden, twice a day, and they enjoyed this activity. It is located in-between the girls dormitory and the nipa-ad, which is the traditional bamboo house that serves as a watching and meeting point in the center of the SDC courtyard. Last year, they had been planting medicinal seeds, which allow to treat minor infections. This year, the children can now eat their own eggplants, pumpkins, green beans, chilli peppers, and chinese cabbages.

Mrs. Edna Garde, the Filipina volunteer, who has been coordinating that project on a weekly basis, has definitely succeeded in her mission to raise the awareness of the children on the benefits of gardening. The children genuinely love looking at the veggies growing up. Over the last few weeks, they have been planting tomatoes on the soil previously enriched with compost. They should start producing a new compost with the support of CAPGEM, SDC's partner, whose team will provide all the equipment needed.

Upon six months of running activity, the initial objective has almost been reached: to educate and train the children of the SDC on gardening technics. The first results have already been observed. Four young boys, aged 15 to 17 years old, who were regularly involved and showed lots of attention to Edna's gardening sessions, will enter a community-based rehabilitation program with a gardening certificate signed by their teacher. They have succeeded to acquire the knowledge and skills shared by Edna, which offers them better opportunities to find a job in the future. The labor market of the Philippines remains very informal and every asset counts for a potential employer.


SDC conducts a team building seminar

On March 20th, the first team building session was held by Daniel Ress, US Peace Corps, and Kenneth Lee O. Materum, Warriors For Peace, at the New Government Center of Bacolod City. Twenty members of the SDC staff, including Mrs. Gina Castro, Center Head, along with a few volunteers from HOST-NGO and Virlanie Foundation participated into this one-day workshop.
The seminar is part of the SDC capacity building program implemented in collaboration with SDC's partners, HOST-NGO and Virlanie Foundation. Following an assessment phase, several tools have been designed to be used at the center in order to reinforce the team motivation: 'appreciation board', 'Employee of the Month award' and 'community plan'. The objective of the day was to introduce a positive culture within the SDC and to give the opportunity to each staff to express himself/herself.

The working atmosphere was friendly and the seminar started with an ice breaker, “The Boat Is Sinking”, which illustrated the necessity of team cooperation and good communication. After this activity, the appreciation board was created to underline every little thing that the team is doing on a daily basis, which contributes into making the center a better place for the kids to live and for the adults to work. The Employee of the Month award was welcomed with enthusiast by the team. Each member was involved to decide on the selection criteria, based on attendance, behavior, listening skills, commitment to work, capacity to take initiatives, etc. The discussion led to the staff agreement on the policy, voting process and type of award. Upon lunch break, the Participatory Analysis for Community Action (PACA) methodology was used to identify and list the strengths and concerns at the SDC. This participatory process resulted in community mapping, calendar, assessment of needs and priority ranking. The children's safety has been ranked as foremost priority to be addressed at the SDC.

Overall this seminar was a success and it highlighted the necessity to conduct such sessions in order to motivate and commit the staff members. Team spirit is indeed one of the most important values to be promoted to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of our support in development projects.


West Negros University supporting SDC's education program

West Negros University has a National Service Training Program in Literacy Development. As part of this program, they ran six Saturday tutoring lessons with the children of the SDC. We were happy to have 22 Teacher Education students help our residents. The children were divided into two groups, those enrolled in ALS and the younger children not enrolled in ALS. The ALS students focused on activities to supplement the ALS curriculum. The other children worked on functional literacy skills that varied according to the children’s wide-ranging abilities and academic experience.

It was very exciting to see this program not only as a welcome addition to our growing education program at the SDC, but also as a support to the building culture of learning at the SDC. The children are very eager to learn and to progress academically, and turnout at the optional tutoring sessions is always above 90%. Even after the tutors left the sessions, several of the children would keep working together to practice and teach one another skills.

It is now summer break for schools in the Philippines, so tutoring from West Negros University is on hold. However, we hope to solidify a formal partnership over the summer so that we will have tutors during both semesters next school year and in the future. This program holds great promise as a means of bolstering the ALS program and in providing basic literacy education services to the street children and other children at risk at the center, as well as in providing hands-on teaching and community outreach experience to teaching students at West Negros University.