Tuesday, December 23, 2014

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Volunteering with Bloggers at ANDAKidz

I've had the privilege of working with ANDAKidz before when they needed some shirts designed and printed for the kids under their program so seeing and being able to work with them again in their home town really put a smile on my face and helped me get a clearer picture of the people behind this wonderful family.

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ANDAKidz during their soccer clinic

During our bloggers' trip to Anda, we caught a glimpse of the kids during their sponsored soccer clinic in the fields by the beach before we met them personally at the Community Center. PIA (Philippine Information Agency) Bohol donated a full sack of "indestructible" soccer balls for the kids and got some instructions over with them to facilitate an activity with the kids. To say that grins and cheers were everywhere is an understatement.

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Robin and Birgit

The bloggers met Robin Gurney and Birgit Naur; founders of ANDAKidz. I meet Robin a few years ago from my first job with ANDAKidz but this was my first time meeting Birgit. Both are very passionate and kind people that literally give everything they have to those in need. ANDAKidz's Q&A explain a lot of their reasons behind staying and helping improve Anda. One of those endeavors is the Community Center that they are setting up for both the kids and adults. It is also the project where the bloggers volunteered for, other than the gift-giving.

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Plastic bottle "bricks"

The Community Center is planned to house the adult's livelihood activities, programs and meetings during the day and will serve as a learning center and library for the kids when they're done with school in the late afternoons. The idea is to open the space to everyone in the community keeping the kids as the top priority.

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The Community Center under construction

Construction of the center is still ongoing with a lot of the raw materials used being recyclable materials. Instead of purchasing concrete bricks, plastic bottles full of sand are used. For ventilation, hollow bamboo tubes are used, alternating between rows of plastic bottles, to allow the wind to breeze through. Aside from the windows, recycled clear beer bottles also allow light to seep through creating a peculiar yet beautiful glow inside the center.

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The cleaning team (photo ©  Dalareich)

The bloggers were divided into different groups depending on the type of labor they would be doing. The more muscular bloggers were responsible for scooping and carrying cement and the heavy-lifting of treated wood to the construction area. Others were assigned to clean the empty glass beer bottles to serve as makeshift window panes for the center and others were tasked to tile the walls, laying down a sheet of cement and either rows of plastic bottle bricks or hollow bamboo tubes. And of course there were also those bloggers that were doing the actual blogger's work by interviewing the kids and personnel and doing the documentation. 

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Scrumptious snacks by the TAFIAS

TAFIAS or Talisay Fishermen's Association is an association of fishermen in Anda, Bohol and were responsible for the snacks we had after our volunteer work. The Taro Ice Cream was easily my favorite above all of their other products. The fact that it's home-made with all natural ingredients that they grew themselves is a huge plus for me. ANDAKidz is also partnered with them, helping not only the fishermen but also their family, giving seminars on other alternatives for livelihood like weaving or, like in this case, food production. Other than the Taro Ice Cream, they also have Taro Chips, Tialpia Chips and Polvoron con Taro. They even sell Taro Flour!

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ANDAKidz dishing out their wit against the bloggers

Kids didn't stray from the spotlight since a bunch of them arrived from their soccer clinic just as we finished our snacks break and man were these children smart! When I look back in my elementary and early high school years, all I remember is collecting Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and crumpling thick wads of paper to throw at each other but the kids of Anda have another thing going and that's riddles!

I suspect the most popular kid is either the best riddle-teller or riddle-solver. They gangaed up on us, mostly against Angela and Dandreb, to tell us all their wiley riddles in the Visayan tongue. My confidence in my intellect and self-esteem plummeted down when I couldn't even answer half of the riddles they threw at us. Here are a few I managed to take down to remind me of our defeat:

"Gamay kay negro, Pagdako kay mamistiso!" (While young, is dark, when old is white)
Answer: Aso sa Cigarilyo! (Cigarette Smoke)

"Tigbas, tigbas, di matigbas!" (I'm not sure but basically it means, "Hit and Hit but can't be Hit")
Answer: Tubig! (Water)

"Usa ka bay, usa ka tukod!" (One house, one pole)
Answer: Payong! (Umbrella)

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The second batch of  what I brought for the kids

The last activity of our stay with ANDAKidz is the gift giving. Initially, it was Dalareich who wanted to simply give chocolates to the kids in celebration of Ginto Luxury Chocolates' launch but generous hearts attract others, it seems, as sir Rey Chiu of PIA Bohol offered to organize a bloggers' event that we had the privilege to attend. So along with the chocolates, bloggers brought some clothes, books, school supplies and goodie bags full of essentials for the kids' families. Everyone had a swell time and people brought so much that there were left overs!

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Chocolates, a goodie bundle and some supplies for the kids (photo © Dalareich)

All in all it was a wonderful experience working with ANDAKidz, meeting the people behind it and the kids that started it all. As a call to action for anyone willing to work with ANDAKidz, their goal is to have at least one activity a week for the kids. Any and all volunteers are welcome to help out in the community. Volunteer painters can go over and hold a quick painting workshop for the children, volunteers that know how to dance can teach the children basics of their preferred dance style, or even those that simply want to lend a helping hand can come over. There's something for everyone! 

Birgit even told us that there was a pair that visited a time ago. Neither knew how to paint or dance but one could juggle. So, what they did was bring everyone to the beach, bought snacks and gave the juggler a few bamboo sticks to juggle with and they put on a show for the kids. It's was a fun afternoon for everyone.

For more information on how to help ANDAKidz, check their website at http://andakidz.org/. They can even help you find lodging and a decent priced Anda, Bohol tour to spend a wholesome vacation with your friends or family. 

Thank you, ANDAKidz for being so welcoming and we'll definitely see you again in the future!


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