Helping Children Develop

We're here to improve education of disadvantaged young people in the Philippines.

Dear Reader,

I founded SIKAT because I believe that education makes a huge difference to a child’s chances in life.

I grew up in the Philippines and although I was lucky enough to go to school for a few years, when I reached 13 years of age my parents could not longer afford to send me to school. For two years I watched other children go to their lessons while I carried water and worked on our family farm in Calingag. However, I was lucky. Having graduated from school, my elder brother managed to get a job and paid for me to continue my studies. I eventually did graduate secondary school and even got a place at University. Having a degree allowed me move to England in 1973 for work and, in turn, I managed to send money home to pay for my younger sister to train as a doctor.

Today, many children in the Philippines simply don’t get the chance that I had. It either costs too much to go to school or the state schools are too overcrowded and don’t have the resources for the children to learn properly. For some, there’s just no school to go to, they’re educationally stranded and their choices for the future work are very limited.

So, when my family got involved in helping the Calingag community build their own school, I knew just how excited the children were feeling. At last they’d have the chance to go to their very own school, even if it was just one classroom with very basic facilities and not even enough tables or chairs. When I saw this, I felt there must be something I could do to help. I founded SIKAT so that I could help enhance the education experience for the children and make the most of their new chance to go to school; the chance that I so nearly missed out on.

We started with modest aims: to provide the children with the equipment they would need for school, such as pens, bags and books. Since then, we’ve appealed to various charities, libraries, and second-hand book stores here in London in order to gather these things and ship them to the Philippines.

In Oct. 2008, SIKAT was able to open a makeshift library in an old rice warehouse because of all the donations. Local volunteers acted as librarians and organized the collection so that now the children and the whole community have access to a wide variety of books. There are over 15,000 books currently on display and loads of full boxes standing by until the space can be expanded and urgent structural refurbishments can be afforded. Nonetheless, the library has quickly become an important resource, being used by up to one hundred children a day and inspiring the students to learn, despite its lack of furniture, no air conditioning or electrical lighting.

Now, whenever I go back to Calingag and see all the children working so hard to learn, I feel even more inspired to do all that I can to help. The more children we can help to go to school, the more they will be able to make the most of their talents, helping them and their whole community.

I want to help transform the current basic school into a real learning establishment that gives the children all the facilities they need to do well and achieve their ambitions. I hope that after reading about Sikat you will want to help us achieve that goal, either as a volunteer, as a fundraiser or by making a donation. I recognize the great amount of work needed to achieve our goals, but I am very willing to work hard to reach them. With your help we can really help bring about a new dawn for children in Calingag and eventually in other disadvantaged parts of the Philippines.

What excites me is the difference that SIKAT can make to the lives of disadvantaged children and their families. I want to see them fulfill their hopes and dreams and know that I contributed in a small way. Speaking to the children when I last visited in summer 2010 made me very determined to give them a chance to be the doctors, engineers, nurses, policemen or teachers that they want to be.

With kind regards,

Linda Manlises
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