DREAMING BIG, STARTING SMALL
The word ‘dreamer’ is a strange word. While the meaning should conjure thoughts of innovation, imagination, and betterment, it is often used in a dismissive context – ‘don’t dream so big, be realistic’. We at FundLife International think otherwise and believe that dreams should be encouraged.
We think protecting the dreams and imaginations of children, no matter how small or big, is absolutely critical for local communities to become equitable actors in the social, economic, and democratic process, not just in the Philippines but in every country seeking to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).
WHAT DO DREAMS HAVE TO DO WITH IT As an organisation based in Tacloban, one of the cities most heavily affected by the wrath of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, FundLife International seeks to empower children and youth to have the courage to still dream. We dare children to dream, and then we challenge them to work for their dream. Finally, we support them in pursuing their dream. While there is a great recognition that everyone has a right to dream, it’s vital we understand and tackle the obstacles that stifle children and youth from marginalised communities to dream beyond what they see. Our goal then is to provide children with opportunities so that they start believing in themselves. Thereafter, if they believe in and work enough for their dreams, they will come true.
To celebrate this, on 29-30 April 2016, FundLife hosted the inaugural Kaleidoscope festival, a weekend event that aimed at gathering and uniting young people from Tacloban, offering them the opportunity to dream in colour. The two-day event consisted of a youth empowerment forum themed ‘Dream Big, Work Hard’ on the first day, and a ‘Dreams in Colour Fun Fight’, on the second day. This youth event’s concept was in response to the community needs of the young people, which were identified during the Focus Group Discussion in February 2016 with selected youth from Tacloban.
IF I CAN DO IT, YOU CAN DO IT
‘Dream Big, Work Hard’ was held at the Leyte Academic Centre in Palo, and it brought together over 100 youth participants for a whole day forum, to communicate and show young people from Tacloban and other nearby municipalities that they deserve a right to dream. A diverse set of young inspirational speakers, who dreamed big and worked hard, were invited to deliver insightful and practical talks that would compel the audience to find out what their dream is, and then just go and get it. The forum also served as the launch of FundLife’s newest UNICEF-funded project, Going Places, which seeks to support committed youth from disadvantaged communities to reach their goal in both education and employment. It has been a great avenue for young people to learn from the speakers’ real-life experiences and insights into what it takes to finding one's dreams and turning them into reality through hard work, persistence, belief, and creativity. The forum concluded with a call to action for all participants to envision the future they desire for themselves and for their community, and then to take concrete steps to make that vision a reality.
The following day, 100 young and young-at-heart gathered for the ‘Dreams in Colour Fun Fight’ to celebrate their dreams through a colour and water fight at the grounds of University of the Philippines Tacloban. Most of the attendees during the fun fight were also the same participants at the ‘Dream Big, Work Hard’ forum. They were joined by Fundlife’s staff, Football for Life coaches, and players from Abucay and RTR Plaza.
As soon as the first countdown ended, everyone was barely recognizable from the explosion of coloured powder on their faces and bodies. The Football for Life players also had a mini football game after the first round of the fun fight, while the rest of the attendees divided themselves into two teams to play one of the traditional games in the Philippines - ‘Agawan Base’.
It was indeed an amazing day - not only to play, have fun, and unleash the inner child in all of us, but also to be reminded to chase and fight for our dreams and aspirations.
WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM CHILDREN
Overall, while the weekend event was a colourfully fun and messy affair, it carried with it a fundamental message all leaders should understand: if we are to succeed in creating a world that provides equitable access for all, we need to accept that education and opportunity are not mutually exclusive. This talk is often dismissed as idealistic, but we believe creating an equitable and fairer world begins with democratising ‘dreams’, for every single child – especially those living in our world’s extremes. Kaleidoscope is one of our small steps to do our bit. We hope the festival not only served the communities involved but also becomes an inspiration to many others to dream in colour. ~