Over 8,000 students and 250 teachers from two public schools in Northern Mindanao were aided with workshops on digital citizenship and cyber safety, sports clinics, storytelling sessions, school repairs, and a feeding program through the Better Together 2018 Overseas Volunteering Program.
Around 36 employees from Globe Telecom, Singtel, Optus, 24/7, and Convergys went to Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon to participate in the citizenship drive in areas including education, sports, as well as environment awareness and protection. The program was held from July 16-20, 2018.
“We believe that engaging employees through volunteerism helps them live out their purpose and the experience enriches them on a professional and personal level,” said Yoly Crisanto, Chief Sustainability Officer and Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications at Globe.
Indahag Elementary School in Cagayan de Oro and City Central Elementary School, both of which are Global Filipino Schools were chosen for this year’s OVP. The volunteers conducted a sports workshop, feeding program, storytelling, as well as Brigada Eskwela and Farm to Fork initiatives at the two public schools.
The Digital Thumbprint Program (DTP) was also conducted for more than 500 elementary students who were given lessons in cyber safety and digital responsibility. The volunteers taught two of four modules, namely: Digital Insight, which features activities to help students discern proper online behavior to secure their information better; as well as Digital Impact, which tackles issues on technology’s impact on students’ social activities.
In partnership with Hineleban Foundation, the volunteers of Better Together 2018 OVP also planted over 100 trees in Bukidnon to promote environmental conservation.
Hineleban Foundation is engaged in the preservation and restoration of rainforests and critical watersheds. It is also involved in developing livelihood opportunities for the indigenous people (IP) in Bukidnon and Lanao Del Sur in Mindanao.
Huang Kun, a network cloud engineer at Singtel, said the overseas volunteering program served as an eye-opener for him.
“Everyone deserves access to good education. What we have done is nowhere near adequate for them. More nourishment, be it material or non-material, will be beneficial to these kids who will become leaders in the next two decades. I sincerely hope that I can give back more in the future, and wish this program can continue to expand, and create greater impact by making the world a better place,” Huang said.
For Walid Sukkarieh, associate director at Optus, seeing the unfortunate circumstances that some communities in Northern Mindanao face inspired him to do more volunteering activities in his hometown.
“Nobody will ever forget the smiles on those little kids’ faces at both Indahag and City Central schools, nor those on our own faces for having experienced the opportunity to be surrounded by such joyful people who continue smiling despite the challenges they face. The unfortunate circumstances and challenges that these communities face are quite common and replicated in our own backyards and beyond. Let’s get back home and drive the continued expansion of volunteering and awareness for those less privileged than ourselves,” he added.
The Better Together program is now on its seventh year. The program was created to foster engagement opportunities for employees of Singtel and its affiliates. Back in 2011, Singtel launched its first OVP in the Philippines with Gawad Kalinga where volunteers helped build villages and communities.
In 2017, the OVP was done through a four-day outreach program at the Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education (Centex) in Bauan, Batangas, and Taal Lake Conservation Center. The volunteers conducted a DTP workshop, sports clinic, school repairs, under Brigada Eskwela, storytelling sessions, as well as a clean-up drive. Other OVP efforts in 2017 were done in Thailand, Australia, and India.