We are now caring for 109 Ati children that range from babies to high school students. Technically they are all sponsored but here is the reality: There are some people who give donations that we have allocated to sponsor children which is how we can cover for the extra kids that we have taken under our wing. If we can get a few more individuals or companies to sponsor a child we can free up those donations for other needs and to be a buffer which would be great as sometimes payments don't come through and we are short of funds, or emergencies come up. So we could really do with that buffer.
We have had some extra generous donations that have come just when we really needed them. For example, this year at the beginning of the school year which is about to start now (June), we have 32 children in high school, many of whom have just graduated from elementary school. As you know to sponsor a high school student is €25 per year instead of €20 for elementary, the reason being that they have extra needs at the start of the school year so we accumulate the extra €5 each month over the year to help provide those needs at the beginning of high school. We had not calculated that we should have raised the €20 to €25 from Elementary Grade 6 rather than High School Grade 7, so we would have already collected what the new graduates need over the year. Because of this little blunder we were short of funds but thanks to the donations we were saved! So we will be contacting all sponsors of Grade 6 and up to see if they can make the increase and if not perhaps we can find people to share the sponsorship by adding the extra €5.
Some other donations were given specifically for a sustainable project to help sustain the Ati families in general and particularly through the Boracay closure. The ball is now rolling with that and we are working on a gardening project to grow crops and helping with fishing. I hope to have more updates on this in the near future.
Another issue we have found is that we can't really keep up with all the birthday presents. It's a nice idea and we would love to keep that going but have had to revise how we deal with that. Some sponsors like to give birthday gifts, we suggest about €15-20 which we send for them to get presents over there which Marissa kindly oversees. We tried to cover for all the kids that don't get the extra birthday money but with so many kids now it's not really feasible and we certainly don't want to pressure anyone into giving more as we are very grateful for the gift they are already giving in sponsoring them and providing for their education. So we will now just send the gifts that are given.
We tried to send photos out recently to all the sponsors but I am still missing a few pics so please bear with me if you haven't received one yet. As the number of kids and sponsors has increased so has the admin but we are doing our best to keep on top of it.
Thanks again for all the amazing love and support. You are making a world of difference to the Ati people of Boracay!
Here’s a little video catching some of our recent trip to Boracay. I spent much of the time taking pics and trying to learn all the kids names. We visited Ati village, Ati learning Centre, Mission of Love school, Bulabog where some families still live and took 15 kids for whose birthdays are around now for a shopping and games treat which they thoroughly enjoyed as did we. Many of the kids were not only thinking of themselves but of their little siblings, buying soap shampoo and ‘baby cologne’ for them. We also showed them some footage of their tribe over 20 years ago which they really enjoyed seeing. Life is better than it used to be for the Ati but they very much appreciate any help they can get so thank you so much to all of you that make it possible. 79 kids are now sponsored and we will be taking on some more little ones as well as looking into some other projects to help...
To all who have donated and sponsored children through Mission of Love, thank you so very much. Your support is amazing and life changing to the Ati kids of Boracay in the Philippines, where together we are helping over 60 of them to have an education and better opportunities in life. I know I have told their story many times but for the sake of those reading this that know nothing about it, I'll attempt a concise summary ... After a life-changing encounter with a street kid in Manila who showed me kindness I was compelled to go and do something to help poor children in The Philippines. I met the Ati, (the indigenous minorities of the Philippines) back in 1986 when I found them living in extreme poverty and dire need. I was introduced to a kind lady called Pina and joined her in helping them to the best of my ability. Some years later, together with my family and our friends Dave and Judy Tomlinson, we were able to start a day care centre that has now evolved into an elementary school called Molisi, run by a devoted lady called Marissa Familiara who has also been serving the Ati for many years now. Presently 55 Ati children attend Molisi where they receive love, care, and education. The children are also being given some nutritious food which we could not provide without your help. It's hard for them to study when they're hungry. 20 of the Ati students are now in high school continuing their education. The sponsorship helps to cover their school supplies and needs. Just over half of the 75 children enrolled at this moment are now sponsored which is wonderful and I am hoping and believing for every child to have a sponsor in the near future. If you know of anyone who would like to sponsor a child, it’s €20 per month for a child in elementary school and €25 per month for high school students. Some even choose to give extra which goes towards food and any extra needs like medicine or emergencies. If a company or a group of people wish to sponsor a child we welcome that too. Or if anyone wants to give a one time donation that will all contribute to their needs. We as Mission of Love have no admin costs and send every cent of your donations to directly meet their needs. I will be very happy to give more information to anyone interested. Thank you very much!
Someone said to me the other day "nobody does anything for nothing" ... after a moment of thought I replied "Oh, I do". Actually I think a lot of people do. I say this with reference to mission of love, a charity my wife Maria and I started with our friends Dave and Judy Tomlinson and Pamela Muscat over 20 years ago to help the indigenous people of The Philippines known as Ati or negrito who at that time were subjected to severe poverty, malnutrition, sickness, racial discrimination, the constant threat of eviction and lack of any education. We started a day care centre that evolved into a school that still provides free education and care for over 50 Ati children, some of whom have now graduated to high school and even beyond that. Along the journey, together with Marissa F. Familara we have tried to establish a self sufficient project where the school now called Mission of Love Integrated School Inc (MOLISI) has excelled and provides education for over 200 children which helps to sustain free education for the Ati students and the benefit of helping them to integrate with other children and have the same opportunities. We began with finding sponsors for the Ati children and later attempted to phase that out with the aim of self sufficiency but found that with an increased amount of Ati children which grew from 20 to sometimes over 60, we were not coping. So a few years ago, I revived the sponsorship and have been working to have every Ati child sponsored so we can continue to support their education, care and well-being, giving them the opportunity of a brighter future. Back to my opening statement, this is something we do 'for nothing'. What I mean by that is we don't do this for money, have no administration charges at all and nothing to gain. That's why I've been up at 4am writing this, I have a full time job and find time to oversee Mission of Love outside of that. No condemnation whatsoever to those that do charity work and have salaries from that, I can totally understand you need to invest time to get things done and we all need an income. I'm saying all this to try and explain what we do and encourage people who want to help someone in need and consider sponsoring a child but also want to know that the money they give is not being absorbed in admin costs, lost in corruption and falling into the wrong hands but actually reaching the people in need and making a real difference. Thank God we have had a good response and quite a few kind souls have committed to sponsor a child or given one off donations. We do still need more sponsors and I am believing to have every child sponsored as soon as possible. We have recently been able to provide some food at school as well to help with their nutrition and hope to be able to increase this and raise the standard. My daughter Izzy recently got to go back to the island after 23 years and visit her sponsored child. She was just a toddler back then. My son Josh also sponsors a child and has got some of his friends on board, even inspired some to actually go there where they did some voluntary tutoring a few years ago. These kids are beautiful and I can't tell you what a joy it is to see their smiling faces. Maria and I hope to re visit the Ati soon and will continue to tell their story and be channels of your generosity and kindness to them. Since meeting them in 1986 after I followed a trail of children carrying water to their very humble 'homes' they have remained in my heart. If you want to know more don't hesitate to ask. To sponsor a child it's €20 per month and some give extra towards nutrition. If €20 per month is too much 2 or more people could even consider sharing (like €10 each) ... every bit counts. You can sponsor a child here...
Once upon a time, a little street kid in Manila changed my life.
He begged some money to buy me a drink. This act of kindness haunted my heart and gave me an overwhelming desire to go back and do something to help the poor children. 6 months later I was back and destiny took me to the island of Boracay where I met the poorest of the poor, the Ati, also known as Aeta or 'negritos'. In 1986 I began to help them along with a kind lady called Rufina Villaroman who allowed me to sleep in her kitchen and helped me open Boracay's first little reggae bar, the profits of which I used to feed the Ati children who gathered round and we later began to send some of them to school. After receiving a letter from Rufina (Auntie Pina) years later saying one of the Atis was begging for bits of wood to make coffins to bury his family who all died from TB, we were compelled to go and do something to help.
In 1993 Maria and I, along with Dave and Judy Tomlinson, set off from Malta to Boracay on a 'mission of love', later joined by Mario Bartolo. Through the kind hearts and very generous support of many people in Malta we were able to build some homes and start a daycare which has evolved into a school called MOLISI Mission of Love Integrated School, Inc., which is run by a very dedicated lady called Marissa F. Familara. Many people in Malta sponsored children's education and helped to give the Atis a hope and a future. Today the school is integrated and has over 200 children, providing free education to about 50 Ati children.
Various students from UK universities (mainly Manchester where my son Josh went and promoted the idea) went and volunteered their time to tutor the Ati children. James Cant-Parton and Joe Bond not only tutored but even went as far as running the Ironman triatholon and raised huge support for the school.
Theoretically, the school is self sustained and self sufficient in providing free and dedicated tuition to the Atis and helping them to integrate with the other children. In reality, some extra help is still needed to cover costs like books and tuition. We honour Marissa for the great job she is doing and want to continue to support this labour of love. I am hoping we can return soon for a visit.
I want to thank every person who has helped in any way through donations, sponsorship, and time. We are planning to send a gift to help them as there are many needs, so if anyone wants to contribute anything, however small, we will be very glad to channel that directly to them. You may even wish to sponsor a child?
As many of you know, we used to have sponsor for the Ati children for quite a few years. Our idealistic goal was to see the Mission of Love school become self sufficient and even profit enough to cover the costs of the Ati kids so that we could phase out the sponsorship program. Well, it was wishful thinking but not quite realistic. The school is able to sustain itself but the cost of books alone for the Ati kids has not been possible to cover without getting into debt and seeking help. For this reason, we are going to reactivate the sponsoring of children to help secure their education and carry some of the expense that the school is incurs.
If you wish to sponsor one of the 40 Ati children presently at Mission of Love school or help some of the 30 Ati children who have graduated to further education, we would be more than glad to facilitate this. If you can spare either €5, €10 or €15 per month towards their education it will be a great and precious investment into their future. As a mission, we have no administration costs and can ensure that all funds donated will be directly invested in their care and education.
Well I won’t tell the whole story again ( but it’s all on the videos 1, 2 and 3 if you want to know, video 3 being the shortest and the latest 5mm overview from feb 2011) What I will do is try and keep you updated on the progress...
In response to the last video (no.3) which was spread widely on facebook and by email, we had a great response and managed to raise the funds needed for the urgent and much needed renovations at MOLISI (Mission of Love Integrated School Inc.) For those of you that contributed in any way, a great big THANK YOU from Mission of Love and the very grateful Ati people of Boracay.
We have not yet started the sewage connection work that was also featured in the video as we are waiting for the Government department concerned to install some major pipelines near the Ati lot. So as a temporary solution, we are assisting in having the septic tanks emptied when needed.
A very wonderful thing that was fruit of that little video was the initiative of two university students, James Cant-Parton from University of Manchester and Joe Bond from University of Leeds. James contacted me to ask about the possibility of going to Boracay to help and came up with the idea of tutoring the Ati children and teaching them some sports too. Marissa Familara, who runs the school, welcomed their support and assisted in organising individual tuition for the Ati children who really need the extra help as many of them are behind the other kids and have been at a disadvantage.
So James and Joe crossed the world at their own expense and gave their time, money and talents to serve the Ati people of Boracay! I am still amazed and so encouraged by this initiative and apart from being a huge blessing to the Atis, I hope it has been a life-changing experience for James and Joe.
Taking it a step further still, they plan to promote the need and inspire other students to do likewise and consider embarking on such a mission. I hope it snowballs! Love is contagious and I do believe the things we give away are the most precious treasures we get to keep.