Two meters long and 10 meters wide, with a decent enough yet unfinished wall on one side, a makeshift chalkboard on the other, a bamboo fence on the third side, and fresh earth for a floor.
This is the only space Anecita Awitan could claim as her daycare center at Dodiongan, a remote village community in Barangay Bonbonan, Iligan City of the Philippines’ Mindanao region. Since she got assigned as a day care teacher in 2004, she never had a room assigned to her so she used her own land instead and utilised whatever resources she could find to build the center.
But even her limited funds could not shoulder all the construction costs in building a daycare center so Awitan continued soliciting assistance for the center’s concrete flooring. The government, however, could not help her unless she donates the land she owns to the government as per protocol. And so Awitan carried on with her daycare center located on her own lot.
Every day, she would squeeze in 40 kids who learned not to complain about how cramped or uncomfortable their room is just so they can learn new things. Life is better on days when the earth is dry, but when rain falls, which happens often, the ground gets too wet, muddy, and dirty, further making the kids uncomfortable.
“They would get easily distracted with their lessons. Some will not even attend class because of this,” she lamented.
To help these day care children go to school, keep going to school, and have someone nurture their learning so they can get the quality of education they deserve, Agapay provided funds for the construction of concrete floors in the center, also with the help of the company’s Philippine employee-volunteer, Harvey Darell Dalman.
Aside from the materials needed for the flooring, Agapay also shouldered the construction’s labor costs. It also provided an electric fan to help the kids feel more comfortable in their day care center.
When Awitan learned that the company is helping the center, she almost could not believe it until the actual floor had been built. She felt so overjoyed to be chosen as a recipient of Agapay’s donations, and was especially grateful that her pupils would now have a chance for a better learning experience because of a better learning space with a better floor.
“Agapay is the only company that has helped our center, and this is something I will never forget. This project can last forever,” she added.
Promoting proper hygiene
If teaching 30 day care pupils in a 30-square-meter makeshift room made of water bottles and plywood is difficult enough, having no sanitation facility is even more challenging.
This is the daily dilemma of daycare center teacher Dona Opon who has to teach her pupils proper hygiene and sanitation. In mountainous sitio Calma of Barangay Tisa, Cebu City, where Opon’s daycare center is located, most of its families do not own sanitation facilities. With nothing to use, children would go uphill to find relief, and if the need becomes more urgent, they would just find a slightly secluded spot around the neighborhood.
“It was a struggle because I can’t keep them in one place, our place would also get dirty, and I could not properly teach them sanitation and hygiene. And this is something that they needed to learn as kids to ensure their health,” Opon added.
Since her house is just a few steps across the center, Opon had been offering their own comfort room just so these kids can have some privacy. But not all kids know what a toilet bowl looks like, much less properly use it, and they ended still preferring open nature for their relief.
For years, Opon had been asking the local barangay (Philippine term for a village) officials to help them build their own cubicle. Aside from the sanitation and hygiene it offers, it would provide the kids their much-needed privacy. But with a population of more than 50,000, the local government could not accommodate all requests.
But all these discomforts will now become a thing of the past with the promise of a new cubicle coming the center’s way, courtesy of Agapay’s financial support.
The donation will pay for the material needed in building a cubicle as an extension of the center with concrete floors, proper ventilation, and toilet. It will also have a sink where kids can wash their hands. The construction is expected to be completed by the end of this month.
“This donation is a dream come true for me. To Agapay, I did not expect that it will happen so suddenly when I just sharing what my need for my center is, but it’s really happening at last. Thank you so much for all your support, and may you continue to be blessed so you can help more,” Opon said.
These scenarios represent most of the struggles daycare centers face. Since these centers are not formally funded by the country’s Department of Education, teachers rely on local barangay units to financially support them, but not all needs can be covered and addressed by the local officials. More help is needed.
Agapay believes that all children are precious and is committed to help nurture their future and potential by supporting causes that help them learn better. If you want to be a volunteer and be a part of our mission of spreading love and giving back, you can reach anyone of our employee-volunteers here or call us at 800 644 3909.