On March 25 and 26, 2021, FundLife successfully organized its first 'New Normal Educational Festival at Barangay Libertad, Palo Leyte.
The festival served as a culmination activity for the conducted 23 small group community-based educational sessions– a COVID-19 centered psychosocial engagement for vulnerable children affected by the COVID- 19 pandemic. A total of 25 children, 14 of which were girls, participated in various games facilitated by FundLife youth mentors to evaluate their learnings from the sessions they attended. Some of the games that the children joyfully participated in were: the modified Tag-It game and Healthy lifestyle amazing race about how children can avoid getting infected from COVID -19. They also played completing picture puzzles about child rights and child protection and a game show about Drug Use, Misuse, and Avoidance.
The children also enjoyed the games that tackled Gender Equality, Safe Space, Leadership, Self-awareness, and Financial Literacy. Throughout the event, the team ensured that children wear a face mask and sanitize their hands every after games or activities. They were also assigned to designated areas to make sure that they maintain 1-meter physical distancing. “Before the Community based Educational Session of FundLife, children like us just stays in each of our homes because of COVID-19. We feel bored and left with nothing to do. Since I was young I do not have any interest in any sports. But, when FundLife started the educational sessions in our community I did not only learn to love Football but it (educational sessions) also developed my confidence and good attitude. We also became aware of how children can better respond
to COVID-19,” said John Rey, one of the regular attendees of the sessions.
The tournament does not only signify the success of the team’s perseverance in making a safe space for children. It is also a celebration of being able to provide support for children's mental wellbeing while trying to cope up with the negative effects of the pandemic.
“We are one!” just like the children’s cheer, indeed through the community support, the passion of the youth mentors, and the commitment of the children to learn, the pilot initiative was completed. FundLife together with the BLGU of Libertad Palo will now focus on how to maintain this good practice for longer implementation.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought global economic damage, and many people are left feeling helpless in the face of widespread suffering. But the compassion and generosity of people are never more evident than during a global crisis.
One year following the national lockdowns and suspension of face-to-face classes, FundLife remains on the ground, assisting those who are helplessly in need, especially the vulnerable children. With no exact date on when face-to- face discussions would resume, the children and youth are left with no choice but to face and endure more weeks and months of answering their modules without their teachers close supervision. The uncertainty in the quality of education they get seems to climb high. It has significantly taken a social, emotional, and academic toll, and some children are thinking of just dropping out of the school year. Learning and development have been interrupted and
disrupted for millions of students in the Philippines.
With that, FundLife tries to address these concerns, thinking about what's best to close the gaps in the education
sector. With the support coming from the organization Sport at the Service of Humanity (SSH), FundLife reached a total of 50 families or 291 individuals during its stay-at-home educational packs distribution that included not just school supplies but also food items and hygiene kits on March 26, 2021, at Brgy. 105 San Isidro Suhi, Tacloban City and Brgy. Libertad, Palo, Leyte. The distribution activity was part of the community sessions culmination through FundLife's new Normal Educational Festival in both barangays.
Inspired by His Holiness, Pope Francis, SSH is a global movement dedicated to promoting all faith and sport positive values to unite communities, inspire youth, and better serve humanity. Staying true to their word, the SSH, in partnership with FundLife, reached 50 children and their families from vulnerable communities with the stay-at-home educational packs' distribution. The children who received these packs are the players under the small-based group community-based sessions conducted by FundLife weekly.
The educational packs included essential school items like pencils, ball pens, bond papers, plastic envelopes, coloring materials, and the most important thing nowadays: the load cards worth Php300. Having a connection to the internet is a must-have nowadays, but most students can't afford to buy load cards that they could use, hence, the need to address the said concern.
Further, the parents are very thankful to both SSH and FundLife for helping their kids. Also included in the educational packs are the stay-at-home activity packs, which had fun and interactive games and activities which the children can do, especially during this pandemic. The activity pack was designed to provide psychosocial support to children as they hurdle their school modules while staying at home. The activity pack combines both learning and entertainment, which the children badly need nowadays. As one child shared, The educational packs are already a big help to our family. It includes school supplies for me and we were also provided with load cards. It's useful for us who rely on the internet nowadays to answer modules. Thank you to FundLife and SSH for not hesitating to help those who are in need Also, one parent expressed how grateful her family is because of the food items included in the pack since her husband lost his job because of the pandemic. Having nothing to rely on but their vegetable garden, the food items are already a huge help.
To date, FundLife continues to work with international donors to support the most vulnerable communities through initiatives designed to help these communities bounce back and recover from the pandemic's adverse effects. FundLife is grateful for the collaboration with Sport for Humanity and the Australian Government, making these Stay- at-Home Educational Kits possible.
March 18th (2021), marks exactly 371 days since the first school closed its doors to students in the Philippines. By the end of March 2020, all public schools, which support 25 Million students, were closed due to COVID-19.
One year on, all public schools remain shut for regular classes with being no plan to reopen until vaccines are available. According to a recent report by WHO, this might not be before 2023, at the earliest.
In order to keep learning, children are required to study from their homes, often without access to online resources or teacher support. Before COVID-19, five out of ten families were deprived of access to basic education. The onset of the pandemic and subsequent closure of schools has exacerbated the education emergency for millions of children.
In an effort to combat the education (and protection) emergency for children and youth, FundLife, like many small but committed groups, continue to try and stop the increasing tide of children who are losing interest and support to continue with formal education. In Leyte, where displaced youth still await construction of new schools that were planned after Super Typhoon Haiyan (Nov 2013), FundLife is creating ‘safe learning spaces’, allowing children to receive SEL and physical education in a safe and supportive environment. But, this is restricted to 40 students per day, leaving another 119,800 children who do not even this basic service to a table and teacher.
In Cebu, the Philippines second most populous city and considered one of the global hubs for online exploitation against adolescent girls, FundLife launched the Girls Got This ‘Works’ and ‘Resiliency in Action’ programs focused on providing employability training and Safe-at-Home packs for a further 750 highly vulnerable adolescent girls. However, as the economic fallout of COVID-19 continues to worsen, so too does the desperation of families to provide food. This puts even further danger for the adolescent girls who cannot return to school, especially as 82% of all online exploitation is perpetrated by parents or direct family members.
While there is no getting away from the dark reality so many children and youth face because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are encouraged by the countless committed people from local government, community, businesses and those who stand untitled but united in helping children stay hopeful and in pursuit of education - and their dreams. The challenge is to ensure more can be done to help these heroes on the ground. It's not an impossible challenge if a will from the top would exist.
In a world where we are saturated by noise and led by media headlines ahead of in-community impact, we must recalibrate a way to empower those who create leaders, and not simply generate a blind following through carefully crafted slogans. In the end, we must find ways to protect children and save education, because right now we are failing.
As social systems and the breakdown of traditional politics around the world continue to teach us, we will never find common ground on everything, but we must agree that a world without education is not a world we should ever accept as normal.
"I'm thankful that FundLife initiated the community sessions. Because of this, our attention and time from thinking about negative things are diverted. We do not only learn, but we also enjoy from the activities." (Kimberly, 16)
Kimberly is just one among the 57 children who are grateful to be part of the small group community-based sessions that FundLife started months ago to respond to the growing concern on mental health and education among children since the enforcement of the community lockdowns as a precautionary measure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It kicked off with just a few participant-players, but more children joined as it progressed. That's how the power of play combined with learning can transform things. As they say, a great way to give children meaningful opportunities to apply their learning is to make learning fun.
The project, which banks on a COVID-19 centered curriculum, seeks to strengthen children's awareness of hygiene, sanitation, nutrition and a particular focus on responsiveness to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also targets to empower children and young people by educating them on their fundamental rights and mechanisms to protect themselves from any form of abuse.
For the remaining months of 2020, the children learned about societal issues like drug use, misuse, avoidance and, mental health, and child protection issues. The coaches equipped them with knowledge and information, and life skills that they can use to adapt to the present situation. They also learned about goalkeeping, shooting, ball possession, and also positioning.
To date, 57 children participated in 21 fun, interactive and educational sessions. Play has always been a useful tool in teaching children. More often than not, children learn as they play. Because of play, they learn how to learn. And this is what FundLife saw during the 21 sessions that transpired in the last 3 months. Children are now more aware of their surroundings and the concerns that contribute to their well-being.
"I'm amazed at the changes that are happening with the children that we are teaching. Some are no longer shy to participate in the discussions; they now voluntarily speak their minds without being called to recite. They feel free to express their thoughts. Some players who don't know anything about football when they started joining can now kick and dribble the ball and evade defenders easily. You will see the enjoyment in their faces. It's heart-warming to know that most of them have good progress," one of FundLife's coaches shared.
Down to its last Saturday before the most-awaited Football Festival, where two batches will compete against each other, children are already excited to showcase the skills they learned in football and participate in games designed to test their memories, pro-activeness, abilities, and determination to win each game.
One of the players also expressed that his most memorable moments are when he gets to bond with the other players by playing fun games and engaging in fun activities that the coaches facilitate. "Every Saturday, we learn new things. The sessions are not dull because the coaches use play-based and fun activities. We always go home hungry for more learning."
FundLife uses play-based experiential learning to complement children's formal education and support their personal growth and development. Today, it strives to explore and discover more ways to improve children's access to education and psychosocial support.
New FundLife Survey Reveals the Sobering Impact of COVID-19 on Education and Mental Health for Young People
Almost one year since the COVID-19 virus emerged and turned lives upside down, the enduring global pandemic continues to impact lives fundamentally. As countries clamber for vaccines to reach the most vulnerable, the concealed negative effect on young people may turn out to be the most significant untreated hazard in the years to come. The consistently inconsistent societal and learning landscape is leaving young people feeling uncertain and anxious, leading to a potential mental health and educational emergency for an entire generation.
New data compiled by FundLife shows just how COVID-19 has changed the lives of vulnerable young people in Tacloban, Leyte, and the subsequent impact COVID-19 uncertainty has on their mental health, their education and future ambitions.
In a recent survey conducted by FundLife on almost 250 vulnerable youth from Leyte aged 10-16, data showed eight out ten young people admitted to still being very concerned by the pandemic, while over 95% admitted they remain worried that their family will get sick from COVID-19.
The heightened sense of helplessness in protecting family members is even more acute for youth from underserved communities, impacting their learning. Households have an average of 4.6 people living in an average of 2.3 bedrooms, making quiet learning almost impossible for youth. 81% of youths said they find it challenging to find a place to study, while 76% said it’s tough for them to concentrate on learning while at home.
One of the significant contributors aside from lack of enabling space is the digital divide exacerbated and exposed as learning moves online. Less than 20% of young people questioned had access to either a tablet or laptop at their home, while 86% admitted it’s very hard to learn without a teacher’s help.
To tackle the growing and protracted education emergency that COVID-19 has amplified, FundLife has been supporting youth with learn-from-home videos that they can view on their phones as schools continue to stay shut, some ten months after the crisis started. In addition to accessible online content, FundLife has been delivering family-packs so that young people can focus on education and lessen their responsibility toward the family household income which has often been negatively impacted by COVID-19 as businesses remain shut.
Despite access to videos and safe-at-home packs FundLife provides, young people still need further and continuous support. Over 95% of those surveyed said not enough is being done to help young people during the crisis, and call for greater social, emotional and educational support from authorities.
FundLife, in collaboration with local partners, is continuing to explore ways to improve access to learning for the most vulnerable children and youth.
FundLife will publish a full report in coming weeks and recommendations for interventions to help vulnerable youth. We are inviting new partners to join us as we move towards ensuring all young people have the support services they need to thrive and focus on education. To learn more email firstname.lastname@example.org