YES Programs



Alumni in Philippines Give the Gift of Education

Phi P For P Better Pic

By Abdul Rahman Alongan (YES ‘08), Al-Bari Macalawan (YES ‘06) & Mahid Macadato (YES ‘04)

The Pencil for Peace Project, with the tagline “How Far Can Your 200 Pesos Go? Bring the Gift of Education to Maguindanao” was successfully conducted at Pened Primary School in Kabuntalan, Maguindanao by the YES alumni and AFS volunteers from Metro Manila and Cotabato City, Philippines. It is a fundraising initiative organized to help the students of the school by giving them education supplies that they can use for the current school year.

The YES alumni and volunteers strategically chose Pened Primary School as it is located in one of the conflict areas in Mindanao. The community has suffered greatly from recurrent conflicts between military and rebel forces in the previous years. Pened, and Maguindanao province in general, have remained so impoverished that even education materials can be hardly provided by parents to keep their children in school.

As a result of the recurrent conflict, Pened students and their families have been displaced from their communities, two to three times in the past decade. They've also lost most, if not all, of their properties during displacement. These are huge disruptions to students who have become innocent victims of violent conflict. Another school year will start in June 2013 and we are aiming to give the Pened students their much needed school supplies to continue their studies.

This project is the result of a 2-month long fundraising activities. The core group of YES alumni is very thankful for the continued hard work by every single person involved. From the planning to the implementation, it was made easy despite many challenges. During the culminating activity, which was the distribution of the materials, everybody in the school welcomed us with warm hospitality. Despite the heat, long land and boat rides, everything was all worth it after seeing those lovely smiles from the students and parents.

The happiness continued on as we started distributing the school supply kits, which composed of a pencil, 5 notebooks, a pad of paper, 5 bond papers, paste, scissors, sharpener, and crayons. A total of 100 school kits were given to the Grade 1 and Grade 2 pupils.











I buy my child’s notebooks but they are not enough for the school year” said Samraida Ebrahim, mother of one of the students of Pened Primary School. “Because of this project, my son will no longer have any reason not to study hard” she added.

Personally, it was an overwhelming experience as alumni because we were able to help students and a community in our own small way. I know that the help we provided is not enough but I strongly believe that great things come in small packages. I do not look at the number of supplies we were able to give, what matters most for me is that we were able to show them that some people care, that a group of young people like us still believe in them. Many of us alumni also came from a very humble beginning, but because we never stop to strive, learn, and discover, we now enjoy helping and inspiring other people. Another thing I realized is that there is so much value we can find in just a single notebook we buy in a department store, that there are things in the world we take for granted but if we look beyond our boundaries we find so many realities in the world. And I hope to be part of the generation that will change those.

Visit the Pencil for Peace Facebook page

Photos courtesy Pencil for Peace. Top: YES alumnus distributes supplies. Middle: The children at Pened Primary School.