TREK Sta. Elena: Back on the TRails for Kids

December 26, 2014 Voluntourism

Seven is a very auspicious number for TREK or TRails to Empower Kids.  Seven mountaineers founded the group.  We also left Manila for our very first outreach on December 7th.  The year was 2007.  

On our 7th Anniversary, we again headed south of Manila, in Sta. Elena. 

Our beneficiary was Salvacion Elementary School in Barangay Salvacion in Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte.

Barangay Salvacion, just like other TREK beneficiaries, is a remote community.  It is isolated by mountains from the rest of Sta. Elena, but can also be reached via boat ride.  

We initially planned to have the goods transported via fishing boats then the participants can trek. But because of the bad weather, which meant trekking will be extra difficult and the availability of two fishing boats, we just let the participants ride the boats to the barangay.

It was low tide so we all had to walk a little.

The community

Transporting our donations

Low tide

The Donations

For this outreach, we gathered funds for the construction of comfort rooms.  The comfort room we had constructed also had its own rain catchment facility.  The students do not need to knock on neighbors anymore or go to the sea to relieve themselves, and they can save rainwater for the comfort room.  

We also collected tires and converted them to a playground.  

Our volunteer, Lira Avedillo of the The HUG Project and her friends made teddy bears from old towels for all the pre-school and kids under schooling age.   

The kids loved their teddy bears.  

TREK do not usually get the big organizations as sponsors.  We do have a few but the bulk of our donations comes from individuals, mostly family and friends, and sometimes from individuals who find us on social networking sites.  That doesn't mean though that we do not give a lot to our beneficiaries.  On the contrary, we are always able to share more than what we expect. 

Each student had their own hygiene kits, school supply sets, slippers, upcycled backpacks, loot bags, a copy of the book Charlie Sparks donated by the author himself, C.N. Tan, and toys.  The little ones also got their own umbrellas.

The teachers also had their own set of donations.  Our donors gave our teachers lots of gifts to thank them for all their sacrifices for their students. 

For the school, we also turned over more storybooks and toys, which we packed in plastic containers.  We also turned over a months long supply of cereal drinks for the malnourished students of the school.  Yes, they do have severely wasted students in the school.

Our biggest surprise this year were the Noche Buena packs donated by Pamana for the 200 families of Barangay Salvacion.  Each pack contains ingredients for spaghetti and fruit salad, plus other canned goods.  

From planning to conducting the program, we always have volunteers we can count on to help.  What I am especially proud of are our volunteers who conduct their own projects to help us generate enough funds or donations.  

We have a bunch of really happy workers and their enthusiasm shows how much they love what they do.  

The Outreach

We had two months to work on TREK Sta. Elena and even with the changes, I can consider our event a success.  We had to postpone because of Typhoon Ruby and we had to make last minute adjustments to our program because of the constant rains during the actual day of our outreach.  

Our volunteers have also shown initiatives to improve our project. Our friends from PAGASA gave a small lecture entitled 'Bagyo 101," to help the parents prepare for typhoons.  

We had to let go of games this year because of the weather but we had lots of fun activities for the kids.  We had storytelling sessions, and a volunteer, JP Tongco, delighted volunteers with his magic tricks.

The Side Trip

We usually do our TREKs twice a year.  We do get together sometimes in between but it is only during TREKs that we see most of our fellow volunteers, most of whom we also met during TREK.  

So, we make sure we party and do it somewhere nice.  

We had a little celebration for December birthday celebrators, including me.

Side trips are usually parts of TREKs.  We are a bunch of explorers and we all love discovering new places.  It was because of TREK I was able to see lots of amazing sites in the country.

Additional photos from fellow volunteers Lee Anne and Velle Bacolod.

Other Good Travels


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