Located in a neighborhood where low-to-no income families reside, the Rise Above Community Center was built to reach the families and children from this community. With the help of Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI), Developing World Connections, Timex Philippines, other international foundations, and friends in the construction business who donated wood, paint, iron bars, doors, windows, tiles, toilets and sinks, the project came together and our collective desire to help poor communities rise above poverty has helped turn this vision into reality.
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In 2012, the first building was finished. Equipped with a dental clinic, a kitchen, bathrooms, a private room for the center head, and a covered patio, it is where we conduct some of our free dental treatment and medical consultation, provide education for out-of-school youth via the Alternative Learning System (ALS), and run the Food Sharing Program for undernourished children. In 2015, the second building, which later housed the Children’s Library and air-conditioned rooms for volunteers to rent, was completed. Through the years, volunteers and sponsors continued to work together with our team to cement the grounds, put up the children’s playground, and decorate the walls with mural paintings – making the Rise Above Community Center a home and a safe space shared by volunteers and families in the neighboring community.
Building the Children’s Library came from a dream of giving the children of Guadalajara, Guadalupe, Cebu City an opportunity to learn through books, activities, and play. With the dream came the possibility of achieving it, through generous donations from supporters and friends. Following the inauguration of the Children’s Library building in April 2015, the first volunteers started coming in by June 2015. Children from the neighborhood aged 3-6 years old spent their mornings with us, while the older ones came in the afternoon after school. The excitement of these kids as they entered the library filled with hundreds of books and toys bought and donated especially for them was so infectious. They scanned picture books with wide eyes, and the volunteers enjoyed teaching them through songs, skits, reading and playing. LEGO even donated a big quantity of different building blocks for both the small kids and the older ones. Children from the slum areas rarely have the opportunity to learn and play in an environment like this, as most public schools do not have toys for free play or a wide selection of books for children aside from textbooks, and parents are not able to provide toys and learning materials at home due to poverty. Many children who come to the library also suffer from malnutrition and are regular benefactors of the Food Sharing Program held in the Community Center.
It is our hope that volunteers will continue to teach these kids different life skills, sports, and hobbies, as they are very eager to learn. There is a great need for people who want to share their time and energy to give these small children the opportunity to learn away from the slum areas they live in and plant in them a seed of hope for a better future. We welcome volunteers who want to work with young children, reading for them, engaging them through songs and play, and helping them to be creative and have fun.