Today we went to an island community called Zamboanga to visit the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation. This community is a huddle of stilt-houses hidden by mangroves in the middle of the ocean. Their main livelihood is the growing and harvesting of a certain type of seaweed that cosmetics companies use to emulsify their beauty products.
Two years ago a politician running for office noticed that there were kids swimming to school on Zamboanga. Jay Jaboneta, the co-founder of Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, heard about this and started the foundation which now works in more than 20 communities throughout the Philippines to provide supplies to build their own boats so that children no longer have to swim to school. Amazing considering many of these children swam nearly a mile one way to get to school with their uniforms and books in one hand while they paddled with the other. We rode a yellow boat through the open ocean with many Yellow Boat volunteers to get to the community in Layag Layag. We proposed the idea of running a litcamp there and recruited a beautiful group of girls for their first litclub!
The foundation also works to provide health care to the children and communities where they are located including eye care, cerebral palsy therapy, nutrition education, and much more. We were hosted by the other founder of Yellow Boat, Anton Lim. Together Yellow Boat and Anton's other foundation, Tzu Chi, fund several grassroots efforts to bring education to children in remote locations throughout the Philippines.
From boats to school houses to women's health centers made of bottle bricks for mothers who cannot travel the distances to their local health unit to give birth, these projects inspired and showed us the power of an individual with the passion to create change. One man, Jason, literally travels deep within Philippine rebel territory to bring books and school supplies to the children there in an effort to keep them from dropping out to join the rebels who teach them to use guns and make bombs. Can you imagine?
The productivity of each community we have visited continues to amaze me. They sustain themselves through whatever industry is available to them. The work of Yellow Boat again fits so perfectly into the needs of the communities in which they work. I feel so much gratitude towards Ruby Veridiano, the LitWorld Ambassador who made such amazing connections and partners while she was living here for so many months. There is so much to be thankful for.