#Dreamboxes Goes to the Philippines
July 9, 2015 by Kat Krieger
This post comes from #LEAD360 winner & #Dreamboxes founder Patricia Manubay, who was recently able to bring her project to the Philippines.
On June 8, 2015 my family and I traveled to Sito Lunao Elementary School in Laguna, Philippines. It was a small school for kinder to grade five students located at the very top of a mountain surrounded by rainforest.
We drifted along the 5 a.m. commute on a cloudy Monday morning; from passing buildings and restaurants to farmland and houses made of bamboo. We met with my aunt and uncle at their hospital, double checked the supplies, wore our #DreamBoxes shirts and we were off. I was told the day before that the school was just five minutes away, but surely the trip was at least two hours away from town. There were barely any vehicles on the road up the mountain and it was evident that there wasn’t a lot of transportation between the top and the bottom. As our car twisted and turned its way up, we passed danger signs, houses hanging onto cliffs, early workers, and mango trees.
Once we were at the top we had to go through the small town, and by this time it began to rain. Many of the houses were old, some made of scrap metal and wood, most without any air conditioning. The people of the town looked at us curiously, I was then told by my aunt that they do not get many visitors here. We then took a right which lead us onto a muddy path through the rain forest; we crossed a bridge, passed small farm fields and cattle — I imagined myself taking this route every day to go to school.
When we arrived we were immediately greeted by the school’s teachers and principal. The elementary school was broken down in two buildings, one for the kindergarten and the other other for the grade school students. As we spoke outside, the children were gathered next to the windows eagerly awaiting and curious about their foreign visitor. I speak publicly a lot, but I have never felt as nervous as I did walking into the room of fifty large eyes.
We entered the classroom that was both grade one and two, with a class filled with less than fifty students, some students had to share desks. The room did not have any posters, instead it had colorful lessons and pictures painted onto its walls. A few of the students wore uniform, but most wore their regular clothes, some without shoes on their feet. Speaking Tagalog was a challenge for me, but I pushed through my short speech and it was on to the distribution.
Some students looked confused but most of them couldn’t stay still. Although some of them might have not understood my English, they all certainly understood this: they were getting new school supplies today. In the middle of it, one of the teachers came up to me telling me that there was one student who didn’t go to school today because he didn’t have a notebook so she was going to go fetch him from his house that was nearby. Then there was this little girl in the corner desk who began to cry when I handed her a Dream Box, I did not ask why because I understood.
Sometimes new school supplies and support from a complete stranger can make all the difference in someone’s school day and even career. In all my volunteering it’s always been raising money, collecting things, helping build houses, or doing beach clean ups, but it was my first time actually meeting the people it affects. Seeing the students and giving them dream boxes made me feel something I never felt before: a mixture of good and guilt. Today I still feel like I could have done more or given more–even one more box. I told myself that no student should go to school like this, and that was when I decided to make one of my life’s goals to try and fix that; every student deserves an education as well as the tools in order to be successful. I know growing up how excited I would be after getting a new pencil or notebook to use for school, and I just thought of the excitement it was for them. The smiles on their faces let me know that–yes, this is what I was meant to do. And like all good stories, on our way back the rain ended and the sky said good bye with a rainbow.