Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, which means "The House Without Steps" is a non-profit NGO dedicated to providing opportunities for people with disabilities. It was founded in 1973 by Belgian Sisters, and its underlying mission is empowerment and independent living for PWD's (persons with disabilities). Tahanan employs PWD's in a number of different workshops such as pill packaging, wood craft, metal craft, and sewing. There is also a learning center for special needs children, a daycare center for children of Tahanan employees, and many other services.
Role of the Students: Students will immerse themselves into the daily realities of the employees of Tahanan. They will build relationships with the people there as they work side by side with them in a few of the workshops such as pill packaging or wood craft. Students will spend time in the special needs classroom and the daycare center, and they will also have the opportunity to visit the homes of Tahanan employees and to understand the home life of PWDs in the Philippines.
Lingap Pangkabataan, Inc., which means "Care for Children," is an NGO that focuses on advocacy for children, disaster risk reduction management, and a micro-lending program. In the children’s program, much emphasis is put into reaching the community through community-based education. At the main office, there is a preschool that provides a learning environment that supports children to develop skills necessary to construct their own knowledge, prepare them for their next school environment and encourage them to become life-long learners. The school believes that the child is a unique creation of God, hence, innately good and special. The micro-lending program reaches out to small-scale business people and offers not only low-interest loans, but also training and workshops to equip people to run a successful business.
Role of the Students: Students will participate in the variety of programs that are offered to children and their families, both in the Center and in the surrounding communities of Quezon City and greater Metro Manila. This may include participating in Lingap’s weekly mobile van program, which focuses on providing children with quality, alternative education. Students will also spend a significant amount time in "155" a community of taho vendors who sell a local street food, and another neighboring community of informal settlers, "Nawasa," learning about the daily realities there. Students also have the opportunity to learn about the micro-lending program and participate in home visits with Lingap staff members.
Kapit Bisig, or “Linked Arms” in Filipino, is a small, organized urban community (about 140 families) that has a history with Couples for Christ (CFC). Their programs aim to address and provide basic needs on the following aspects: health, education, livelihood, community development and faith formation. Kapit Bisig is a well-organized community and its members are very active in the local homeowners association, civic-oriented and church related activities. Many of the community members have also had experience working abroad as OFWs, or Overseas Filipino Workers, and share about this experience with students.
Role of the Students: Students will closely accompany the families of this community, learning about their reality and sharing in daily tasks, such as cooking traditional meals and tutoring the children of the neighborhood. Students will also have the opportunity to design structured play, music, and art classes with children, based on the students’ gifts and talents.
Students will also spend one week of the semester immersed in a rural fishing village in Calatagan, Batangas, Philippines. Students stay with host families, hear about the lives of fisher folk, learn to fish, and gain insight into the challenges of provincial life and the environmental issues surrounding the village.
Bagong Silang is a relocation area in the outskirts of Metro Manila with an estimated population of over 2 million. The area was developed in the 1980's, and many families were given a small lot of 50-60 square meters on which they could build their home, but many of these homes meant for one family now house as many as four. Most of the residents living there came from other informal settlements within the city of Manila, and the infrastructure and social services in this area are a challenge. Most have electricity but many live without running water, and there is no hospital in the community, which means that the majority live without access to adequate health care or services.
In response to the fragile situation in which the community members of Bagong Silang live, an order of sisters and brothers of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts who run the local parish created the San Damian Center, which offers services, education and empowerment to the community. They run a number of tutoring programs for middle and high school students, a feeding program for malnourished infants and young and nursing mothers, and they also empower the women who volunteer at the center through education and livelihood projects.
Role of the Students: The students will be involved in different activities in at the San Damian Center, such as: classes for students with special needs, accompany the mothers and children in the feeding program and classes for out of school youth. In the afternoons, the students will accompany a volunteer from the center to visit the homes of families whose children are involved in the feeding program in order to get to know the families on a personal level and assess the outcomes of the feeding program. There is also a unique opportunity for the students to interact with the Sisters and Brothers of SSCC (Congregation of the Sacred Hearts) through weekly shared meals and conversation.
Ang Arko ng Pilipinas, L'Arche Punla, or "The Ark of the Philippines," is the Philippine community of L’Arche International, which “seeks to promote inclusion, the valuing of diversity, and international solidarity, and seeks to be a sign toward the building of respectful societies founded on ‘relationships between people of differing intellectual capacity, social origin, religion and culture’” (extract from the L’Arche Charter). With this spirit, L’Arche Punla is a community of individuals with and without intellectual disabilities, living together as a family of support and acceptance. The Punla community welcomes individuals with intellectual disability who have been abandoned. These individuals then become the "core members" of the community, and they live and work alongside the "house assistants." All members of L’Arche Punla have their own responsibilities in their homes just like in any ordinary family household where one has to cook, do laundry, clean, or go to market. Each member also cares care for “family member/s” who are fully dependent and need more support with daily needs. Beyond meeting everyday needs, L'Arche Punla seeks to enhance the spiritual, social, and mental development of core members through the following activities: a daycare center for education, a workshop center where core members learn to produce and sell various paper products, shared weekly chores, and daily spaces for prayer and reflection. Above all, L'Arche Punla fosters a family where relationships are authentic and where community members celebrate each individual's gifts.
Role of the Students: Alongside the core members and house assistants, students will participate in the daily schedule of activities at L'Arche Punla, such as creating and painting homemade paper products in the workshop and sharing in community spaces of prayer and reflection.