July 23

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#StandStrongManila

Fundraising and Media Outreach To End Corporal Punishment and Prepare For Disasters:

Do you agree with corporal punishment? Many of you may have been spanked as a child, but I doubt many of you suffered severe injuries. I personally wasn’t corporally punished, nor did I punish my children in such a way. “Corporal punishment” according to the Philippine definition includes severe spanking, pinching, and whipping with a belt. Studies from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have shown that around 17% of children across 58 countries have been subjected to severe forms of physical punishment. I have seen the severity of injuries here from such punishment. It’s heartbreaking. I am assisting with the fundraising and media outreach to end corporal punishment. I personally agree with this campaign and stand behind it fully.

In time for the upcoming final State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino III, child-led organizations wrote an open letter addressed to the president on Monday, July 20, pleading to end all forms of corporal punishment in the country. Save The Children also advocated in front of Congress and on CNN locally against this. It was quite an event to get to participate in.

Advocates sought for the passage of the Anti-Corporal Punishment or Positive Discipline Bill, which is currently pending at the Senate Committee on Women, Family Relations, and Gender Equality.

I’m stepping off the Soapbox and putting on my Fundraising hat now. My job also includes preparing funds in anticipation of a national disaster. The Philippines is the most at risk country in the world for natural disasters. Manilla is the second most disaster prone city in the world. We are now in typhoon season, not to mention the risk of an anticipated massive Earthquake. I have gotten experience with both a typhoon and earthquake during my stay here. In the Philippines, these are just a fact of life. Last night we experienced a heavy rain downpour. Even in the absence of a typhoon, the heavy rain causes mud slides and four people were killed in Manilla. Hence, I am organizing campaigns so funds are available to ship supplies in ahead of a national disaster. How helpful could we be in the field without any supplies if a typhoon hits?

I have also help to organize and assumed leadership of an internal campaign called Sparebucks4change. Employees are asked to give at least 300 pesos per month, which is the equivalent of $10 per month in US dollars. It costs just 60 pesos to send a child to school for a year. My boss and I set a goal for me to enroll twenty new employees over the six months I am here. I am pleased to report I have enrolled over fifty participants already and am getting 100% engagement during my talks. I am getting to travel to other Save The Children locations and present at company meetings. I love that this campaign enables employees to personally see the impact of their donation. All funds remain locally in the Philippines, and I will send welcome letters and periodic updates on how the funds are helping particular children, etc. I am taking photos on my field visits to work with the children, and plan to include some of these too.

I’m also observing firsthand how crucial corporate and institutional funding is to enable important programs to be carried out. The funding mechanisms can be very difficult for a Save the Children “country office” that is not a “member country” and is registered as an international charity rather than a local Philippines charity. Often a payment needs to be deposited to Save the Children UK and subsequently transferred to Save the Children in the Philippines. Every time the country office needs to obtain corporate-funded money for program implementation, the awards management unit needs to reach out to a “member country” to access the funds, even if there is a local presence of the corporate donor in the same city as the country. Talk about red tape.

I am currently reaching out to other companies with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs that I met at the CSR Expo I attended earlier this month. I am asking them to contribute to our disaster readiness campaign. I am also able to educate these exhibitors and attendees about the “First Read” programs and other key initiatives being implemented by the staff in the Philippines Country Office. “First Read” is a program which works with parents of children ages four to six to provide them with knowledge, skills, and materials to support their children’s emergent literacy and numeracy skills. I was able to visit the sight and discuss its progress with the local mayor last month.

This Pulse experience makes me so grateful for my upbringing and quality of life in the US. Americans don’t worry everyday when the next of 52 annual typhoons will hit. Funding for natural disasters is not an issue. I encourage each of you to reflect on the gift of being a citizen of a modern country. We really hit the lottery by just getting to live where we do.

In closing, I will quote Nelson Henderson, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” Perhaps you can join me and help to plant a tree so someone’s life is a little brighter. Can you sacrifice one Starbucks a week or a pizza a month? Then you can give this small amount to a charity to help the underprivileged. Even a small amount of money will go a long way to improve the life of a child.

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