I was reading the other day about the difference between values and beliefs. I do believe that people who hold values in common can and do work together to accomplish certain things, even if their beliefs are different.

Christians, Jews and Mormans all hold a basic set of values that come from the 10 commandments. This is a reason that often it is seen where the three groups work well in a disaster situation. The shared value is the worth of human life.

Star of Hope attempts to build partnerships and programs that bring the best resources possible to see children grow in all areas of their life. In education, health and social development we can and do work with a broad base of resources and groups.

As a Christian organization, in matters of faith (beliefs) we seek to partner with like minded people.

I invite your comments.

Barry Borror
President & CEO

A long day in the car today. We went to the other side of Luzon in Quezon it took 4 hours by car one way. I saw all the places who were hit by the typhoons in 2004. Now everything is grown over with trees and bushes but I remember how terrible the area was hit then. When we arrived at the Star of Hope school in the village Ilog we were met by happy school children meeting our Swedes with songs and waving of Swedish flags. It was great.

 

 

As I written before- Do I have a great job or what :-)

Three days in a row on one of the Star of Hope's largest projects. It has been choppy few days, we had a lot planned, but Maria was hospitalized for four nights. And I feel bit down with a fever, but try to struggle on.

With very good help from the Star of Hope staff, I have taken me past the obstacles with diseases and children who fought in the examination and others who have trained for the big opening of the school hall on Monday and had some made ??anyway.

It is tough with fever in the heat. But we are pleased by all the happy focused children who struggle to the very end before school holidays start in a few weeks.

One of the 2500 fighting children is Rosehny Subaldo, 8, who attend class two. Her favorite subject is math and she wants to be a teacher when she grows up, she thinks her teacher is so good. Some pictures of her below:

 

 

 

We woke up at 6 in the morning to go to the village of Ilog, Infanta. It is located on the island of Luzon, which is the same island as Manila but on the East coast. To get there we had to go over two mountain ranges. There are so many squatters who have built houses along the roadside that we had to drive very slowly. It was a 4 hour trip one way.  

In November/December 2004 when four Typhoons hit the area it looked a lot different. Much of the vegetation was gone because of mudslides and all the logging, both legal and illegal, the trees and mud ran down the mountains devastated the plains and stopped at the Philippine Sea. It was a true catastrophe. Now it looks totally different, all green and lush. There is no indication of the big disaster. We were there just a few days after the tragedy and I will never forget how it looked and how many people who suffered. Over 100,000 homes were lost and at least 5,000 people died. This disaster lead to Star of Hope building over 300 houses and delivering emergency aid such as food, water, blankets etc. to thousands of families.  Ine hundred and twenty five (125) houses were built in Ilog village and we had the pleasure to have the Swedish Ambassador at that time, Annika Markovik, to inaugurate the “village”. Today we also have a school in the same location as the row houses for first to fifth grade (next year there will also be a sixth grade). Those school children were the reason for our visit.

When we arrived, we were met by the students and teachers. Every time I visit a Star of Hope school it is the happiness and curiosity of the children that excites me the most. When the children come up to me and asks questions it makes me happy. The strangest question I think I have ever gotten is “How do you bury your dead when your ground is frozen?” after explaining snow and cold weather. I actually did not know the answer so I had to look it up.  For you curious people it is a special machine which heats the ground.

As is very common in the Philippines the children were dancing and singing for us. Song and music is a big part of the Filipino life and it impresses me so much when I see the children, especially the boys, (my boys would have to be threatened to sing and dance in front of an audience) sing loud and proud.

There are still needs at the school but most of them are simple things like basketballs, volley balls, chess boards and scrabble boards. We also have to put up a wall/fence. Not as big as the one in Argentina but still a good size. There must be a wall there so that squatters do not enter and assume ownership of the land, thieves do not enter and destroy property and steal equipment and so that animals don’t enter and eat the newly planted mango and other trees.

infanta philippines maria presson starofhopeusa

I also walked around the row houses. You could tell there was some wear and tear but everyone we met was happy with the opportunity to live in their own home. While walking around I saw a Sari Sari store, a small general store where you can buy most everything you would need from shampoo to food items. 

The lady running the store Marife Ly said it does really well. On a good day she sold  between 500-600 pesos (14 dollars ) worth of merchandise. Her biggest seller was biscuits, detergent bars and soap. A detergent bar cost 6 pesos (15 cent) and is used for hand washing clothes. She worked long hours from 5 am to 8 pm and was telling me how happy she was her two children John Marc and Maria was able to go to the Star of Hope School. “It means I can let them walk there themselves and I don’t need to spend money on transportation to the public school so far away.”

boys volleyball champs infanta philippines

The teachers at the Star of Hope Christian School in Ilog were very proud to show the pictures from a volleyball tournament in which the children had participated. It was a regional tournament for 26 elementary schools. Eight teams from the area played in this event. The tournament took place at the Infanta town plaza about 20 minutes away from the school on the 21 of March. The boys from Star of Hope Christian School won 2nd place and everyone was extremely proud. They received medals, a diploma and a really nice trophy. Next year they will expand and also include girls. To continue preparing for next year’s tournament they are in need of new volleyball nets and volleyballs.

Be a Sponsor here.

Wednesday 21 march

Today was a special day again. I got to sit down and talk to my sponsor boy Hernan Barosa. Well, he is not a boy anymore. He is a man with a college degree. I was fortunate to be able to put him through college and now he is a math teacher at Star of Hope School in Taytay. When he called me his angel I thought I would start to cry.



The feeling to know I had the ability to change a boy’s life to the better is more than I can explain in words. He has been raised by his grandmother with very little means. Without help he would not have been able to go to college. He would be stuck in a downward spiral with no future. I know I might be perceived to be very intense but I have a deep desire to change children’s lives. It is inherited from birth. I can see the difference Star of Hope means for all our children over the world. I´m blessed because every day I go to work I make a difference.

 

 

New school reforms are pouring into the Philippines. One of the new to be implemented is that all schools must also offer pre-school. Another suggestion is that the High School is extended by two years. If all this is implemented then the total of 15 years in school before any college or university. Expensive to implement, costly to families, and becomes schooling so much better?

One can understand that the school work to improve education. In a study pertaining to primary education in 2011 the Philippines was ranked as 99 nation of 138 surveyed. And only the seventh best of the nine surveyed in Southeast Asia. Only 20% of young people continuing to higher education. What many argue is that there should be invested money in improving the quality of higher education.
Today there are entire 1700 colleges and universities in the Philippines. Some people think there should be fewer but higher quality. What do these reforms for the Star of Hope, the children and families we support? I'll try to sort it out the next few weeks.

 





Amid all work (text, video and images) with the Philippines, I today went through some photos for another project.

I was in Ghana for the second time in my life 2008. We went up to the district of Bolgatanga as Star of Hope has worked there in a disaster since a number of years before. I visited thirteen kindergartens in four days. It was tough tempo as tough roads. But at the same time very interesting and rewarding. The support we gave to these pre-schools was vital in many cases. I met many children these days. It is impossible to remember all of course. But I remember the boy below. He just stood there in the semi-dark room built of clay. A simple pre-school, but he got his a, b??, c, and 1, 2, 3. He said nothing, but his eyes, I remember forever.

 



Today was an equally interesting day at the school in Taytay just like everyone else. It started when I would get a young student to talk on video. I told her in brief what I was after. He said he wanted to write his own script so he could make it interesting and meaningful from his point of view. Kind of ambition I like. He was not happy with first take so he rewrote a little and on take we had whar we both wanted. Fun.


The school in Taytay is now in the Star of Hope's possession as previously reported. So nice. Besides the very important financial injection from family EK has three more people have been very important in this process. The picture below shows lawyer Romualdo de los Santos, Mayor Guia G. Gomez and Star of Hope Country Manager Gani Coruna, where they discuss various projects. We visited the Mayor Gomez who told us about further plans for San Juan and the poor in Taytay. Very interesting meeting. She has always been fair to Star of Hope which is appreciated of course.

The Philippines: first day out

 

Taytay
Today we went to school in Taytay as the Star of Hope operated since 1989. Today there are 2 500 students from primary school grade 1 up to "high school" grades 4. It was great to meet all the children again.

 

 

Taytay has grown from a few hundred families when the Star of Hope opened the school there for about 20 years ago. Today there is at least 6-7 000 families in the area. I'll try to find out how many exactly. A former "land fill" has been a residential area.


There are a lot of things you may not be used to in in USA: bicycle taxi, sidecar motorcycle taxi overcrowded with children and young people on their way to and from school. Then there are lots of other things. When you buy a soft drink as it is poured into a plastic bag and you get to the straw. Cheaper for the children and the seller gets his bottle refund from the soft drinks companies.


march 28, 2012: Dano school that has been destroyed by the earthquake in Haiti has been rebuilt with support of donors through star of hope. Today was the inauguration day of the new school buildings. Many people that have been invited was present in  the inaugural ceremony to thank all donors that have given money to rebuild Dano school for 600 kids that are enrolled in this school  
Tony



Today was an equally interesting day at the school in Taytay just like everyone else. It started when I would get a young student to talk on video. I told her in brief what I was after. He said he wanted to write his own script so he could make it interesting and meaningful from his point of view. Kind of ambition I like. He was not happy with first take so he rewrote a little and on take we had whar we both wanted. Fun.


The school in Taytay is now in the Star of Hope's possession as previously reported. So nice. Besides the very important financial injection from family EK has three more people have been very important in this process. The picture below shows lawyer Romualdo de los Santos, Mayor Guia G. Gomez and Star of Hope Country Manager Gani Coruna, where they discuss various projects. We visited the Mayor Gomez who told us about further plans for San Juan and the poor in Taytay. Very interesting meeting. She has always been fair to Star of Hope which is appreciated of course.

Update on Maria 2

I talked to Maria today 0930 CST.

She has a terrible strep throat, almost completely closed, she has had 5 days of high fever, her sugar (long term) is terrible, she received IV for fluid, IV for  Antibiotics, she is comfortable with the hospital quality and standard and happy with her 3 doctors.

Gani and or Lilling and or family are with her 24/7, Great people!

Please keep her in your prayers. 

Tuesday 27 of march Graduation Crame

My last day in the Philippines and now I am surrounded by wonderful children with big smiles. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the graduation of the children in Star of Hope Preschool in Crame. At the end of the week there will also be graduation in Taytay for the elementary and high school children and in the beginning of next week the children in Ilog, Infanta will have the very first class of children to graduate as that school is new.

 

When the big event started here in Crame they played happy yet celebratory music while the children walked in all in a long row. There were 70 graduates between 4 and 6 years old, oh so cute they were in their white miniature graduation gowns and white hats. All the girls were wearing corsages and a flower necklace with pink ribbon while the boys wore flower necklaces with blue ribbon. It was so cute!

See all the photos here!

In the Philippines the children even graduate from Preschool and then from elementary school and finally high school. It is a very big deal and a big celebration. The parents are so proud of their children and that they have finished the first part of their education. Other big celebrations in the Philippines are the two special birthdays, when the children turn one and seven. This has to do with that the child has survived their first and the seventh birthdays. The celebration when they finished preschool is because they are now starting another milestone on their way.

The ceremony started with the Philippines national anthem “Bayang Magilius” and everyone stood up holding their hand on their heart while they sang. Directly after a six year old girl Jasmine Joy Ureta held the opening prayer as; her proud parents had tears in their eyes. We also were proud to have as special guests such as the vice Mayer of San Juan Francis Zamora and other councilmen. In their speeches they were talking about the children as “Little big stars” and one of the councilmen said to the children to “aim for the stars, the clouds is not a bad place to be”. The Vice Mayor also said to all of us “we are all partners in education”. They also gave out ribbons and medals to the children and I saw how proud the parents were to shake the Vice Mayors hand when their children received their medals for outstanding School achievements.

All the children got a least one ribbon and it was everything from most active to the neatest, most thoughtful to the most generous, most kind to most behaved, it was a lot of medals . The medals were in different “levels”; bronze, silver and gold was given for school achievements like math, reading, writing, art etc. I would not mind having my own medal as they were really nice looking.

In between the giving out ribbons and medals some of the children were dancing in white clothes to the Christian song “Above all” with the chorus “crucified laid behind a stone”.  The girls did a great job and I couldn’t help but sing along. The last thing on the agenda was to give out the diplomas and then all the children sang “Diyos nang salinlahi”, my absolute favorite Filipino song. It means The God of all generations and our father is so good.

What a great ending to my trip to the Philippines yet I will blog some more when I get back to the states I have still so much to write about.

Maria

What a glorious dance show the students at Star of Hope Christian School in Taytay, Manila preformed on the 23rd Foundations Day. This year the celebration was extra special.  Normally the Foundation Day is held in the end of January but this year it was postponed to March 19 as we also celebrated the re-inauguration of the school Peter Ek Education Center/Star of Hope Christian School.

Under the shining sun the schoolyard was filled with hundreds of children in beautiful clothes who danced and sang. 10 year old Csyra O. Musa preformed a fantastic solo number with the song ”I want to break free”  (you can watch it on Star of Hopes facebook) which was followed by dances describing Pilipino traditions. The smallest children in Grade 1 danced “The Pearly Shell” and then students from every grade preformed different dances.
Some of the dances referred to the country’s history and culture, for example ”Bulaklakan”, a flower dance in honor to Virgin Mary, ”Banaue Rice Terraces” which symbolizes the beautiful rice terraces in the north of the Philippines. ”Ati-atihan” in which weapons and fire are included is a very old dance originating from the first settlers on the islands and ”Daklisan Festival” in which they show their appreciation to their patron of La Paz for blessing them for peace and safe voyage when fishing.

I have the best work ever.


Maria told me on Friday all was well and I was waiting on her blog post but it never came.

I sent a text message on Saturday and did not get a response, not so unusual as Marias Hotel was close to Greenhill’s one of the largest shopping centers in all of Manila. I heard Maria was planning to take some of the neediest kids shopping and assumed she was just busy.

On Sunday I did not hear a word either but that’s not uncommon as Sunday is Church all day and then with the time difference is assumed it was just, well normal.

On Monday, (today) I was met by a telefone recording from Star of Hope Philippines saying Maria is in the hospital and she is stable, apparently this Kansas infection took a turn for the worse in the warm Philippine air. She was having trouble swallowing and not breathing as she should.

Please pray for Maria and a fast recovery and as soon as she is better you can read about it here.

Mark

 

 

 

Last week offered many emotions in the Philippines. To be part of the inauguration of Peter Ek Education Center and celebrate the anniversary of the Star of Hope School in Taytay was real big thing. Then we worked on and visited the newest school project in Infanta. It is a small but very fine school. With support from donors in Norway, we will now be able to build two more classrooms there. Super great.


On Friday it became a little heavier emotionally. Then we visited the vulnerable families in the slums of Taytay where we run the big school. Most are living on the borderline and every day is a struggle. Star of Hope is helping many families and children, but more need help. The first thing many families cut back on the education of children, which only creates further problems in the long run. Education is an opportunity out of poverty, all children should benefit from. Star of Hope trying to help as many as they can and are able to.

 

Over the weekend, I have gone through the material from the week. Unfortunately, the Internet was unstable and sometimes nonexistent. But pictures and videos are coming. For now a picture of a strong woman in the slums Taytay.

Monday 19 of March

What can I say it has been a crazy wonderful day. After years of being worried about the ownership of the land the school in Taytay is on. Now the situation is finally resolved and Star of Hope Philippines owns the land in Taytay were Star of Hope Christian School/Peter Ek Education Center is located. It was a day filled with all different kinds of emotions, remembering Peter with tears in my eyes and then joy and happiness when I saw all the children singing and dancing. I´m proud of being a Star of Hope member. Proud of knowing friends like the Ek´s who saw the need and became our miracle. Peter, a generous and engaged sponsor to Star of Hope for more than 20 years who saw the Philippines as his second home. When he passed away, way to young his wife, children and his brother and family wanted to continue his work and make an impact. For that I am thankful. Because of their generous donation the threat of losing the school when the 25 year lease expired is now over.

The Ek Family, me and Pastor Gani

 

The most touching moment was when Mary Ann Gomez a former sponsor child to OBH Nordica/Peter Ek and now a teacher at Taytay held a speech in honor of her sponsor Peter. There were not many dry eyes during her speech. To hear how important a sponsor can be to a child growing up is reassuring. The world is a good place and you can change it one child at a time. Today Mary Ann is herself impacting the next generation of 2500 students at Star of Hope School and since Star of Hope now owns the land it will not be over in two years it will continue to impact students for many more years to come.

 

Blessings to all.

Friday 8 of March

It is hot and humid. I love the heat and being able to wear my flip-flops. On the way to Taytay where the Star of Hope school with 2500 students is located, I can see how much more construction there is than when we lived here 5 years ago. The roads are still as bad as always but there are more businesses, stores and restaurants. In north Taytay there is even a big department store.

When I arrive at the school it is pretty quiet. I find out the high school students are taking their National achievement test. It is the test of which they need high scores to get in to a good college. I sneak around and try not to disturb. When the testing is completed there are some tired teenagers coming out of the classes but they are soon re-animated. Preparations for our big re-inauguration day and Founders Day are taking place. Children are practicing for their show dances and the school yard is soon filled with laughter and music.

Not much time passes before I have two girls approaching me shyly saying hello - still remembering my name. I am so blessed to be able to be here.


March 22, 2012,  Francoise Claulande is pride as well as other students of last fashion blouse that she has been able to make as homework from last week class. The 40 future seamstress students that attend the sewing class in Jeanton school are very enthusiast to pass all sewing class of different model dress to be qualified for graduation and to have the diploma next July.   It is an occasion to thank all sponsors who support sewing school in Jeanton through Star of Hope. Together we can make the difference. Tony

Note, Maria's blog from last week.

Today was a great day except for me starting to get a sore throat.  When I walked in to church it said on the wall with big letters “Knowing Christ is knowing God”

What a good start, all smiling faces with eyes filled with happiness to see me.  It felt so welcoming. When they sang the songs in Tagalog the words came back to me and I could sing along.

Julius the youth pastor sang with his beautiful voice “Who am I”. He has a voice that always touches my heart. Listening to the different testimony one was different and I think shows the difference between the countryside and city. A girl from the youth group was telling how they had been in Infanta were Star of Hope is running a school singing and meeting with the students. She wanted to take in an offering to be able to buy the children hamburgers next time they are going there. They had found out the children never had tasted hamburgers so they wanted to take them out for hamburgers.

In the afternoon I went out with my son Leon’s sponsor child Jay and some of his friends for some shopping and to eat. What a joy. It sure is much more rewarding to shop with him than my own children. I don’t have to make Jay try things on he does it with a smile and thankful eyes.

This was last week, in the evening on the 10th I got really sick and was then taken to the hospital on Monday since my throat had closed up and I was not able to breathe through my mouth and had not been drinking for 24 hours so I was dehydrated.

Today is a new day and tomorrow is the big day, re inauguration and foundation day.

 I had to spend 5 days in the hospital with IV for fluids and antibiotics. I´m glad I’m out and on my feet again. Thank you all for your prayers!

 

After 20 hours in the air (Kansas-Tokyo-Manila) and hours of waiting I´m finally in Manila, The Philippines!  It’s been two years since my last visit and five years since I and my family lived here. It is clearly a déjà vu feeling for me, the smells are the same, the noise is just as loud, the smog seems to be the same old smog but what is absolutely the same is the kindness and smiles from Gani and Liling Coruna who meet me at midnight at the airport. I almost feel home.

This trip is a trip of sheer excitement. I have been worried for years about the School in Tay Tay Rizal, Manila. You see the lease on the land that Star of Hope’s  School is built on was set to expire this year and a huge solution was needed. Without a “land swap” deal of some kind closure seemed the only option, and this was without a doubt one of our best schools. Yes, 25 year leases can go fast sometimes.

I felt the last few years that there were forces who wanted to take over the school and fight us so we could not continue our work but God is miracle and gave us a miracle too.

The answers to prayers are generous donors who made it possible to buy the land for the land swap deal. This is a big deal as metro Manila prices are comparable with most Asian cites except the last 5 years have seen a 40% increase in metro land prices in Manila!

 When Gani talks about the future it is with excitement in his voice. There are plans – a preschool to be built, a sanctuary for girls who have been abused in their homes. The ideas are endless. It is a big difference if I compare it from two years ago. Now the air is filled with hope for the future.

I´m even more excited about what God wants from Star of Hope in the Philippines in the future.

I find myself smiling the whole time. I am now in Greenhills and Crame where I lived 5 years ago and now I see many things are the same as I recall, it seems the vendors are the same too and it seems like I still have the aura of “an resident” so I am treated differently than the “tourists”.

Today will be meetings and planning but tomorrow I will walk around Star of Hope School in Taytay with children all around me with an even bigger smile.

Maria

Today we went Infanta on the east coast of the Philippines' largest island, Luzon. Star of Hope has been working there since 2004 after the severe disaster. It's always fun to get there. Unfortunately it rained the whole time during the three hour journey and the road was in worse shape than it was six months ago. Oh well.

 



Once in place, it's always fun to see the children. I think it's fun for them with international visitors. This school year there are 84 students in grades 1-5. In a few weeks during the nearly three month long school holiday the construction of two more classrooms will start. From next year we will provide preschool and grades 1-6. This school is small but nice and the kids have every chance of a good start in life, which is important.

A little fun that kids will remember my name, too. Admittedly, I have now been there three times in just over a year now, but still. I like the school in Infanta strong.


March 16, 2012. Star of hope Haiti in cooperation with Haiti on Feet organization have funded construction of a rehabilitation Center in Hohital de la Communaute Haitien HCH for Handicaps in Haiti to have a place to do  therapy. The  inauguration ceremony of the center  is happen today. Many concerned groups took part to the inauguration:

-          Star of Hope Int. by Lennart Eriksson and Fred Thorneas

-          Star of Hope Haiti by Myrtha and Tony,

-          Haiti on Feet by Gunnar Hallgreen,

-          Hospital by HCH Board members

-          Erik Development Partners by Swedish doctors and medical technicians

-          And guests

The rehabilitation Center measures about 150 square meter with 2 rest-room, office and two exercise rooms.  

March 7,2012- Star of Hope sewing school in Jeanton Haiti in the benefit of 40 future seamstresses is at 4 month of functioning. Different models of skirts, blouses lessons have been already seen and taught with the students so far. Today they have been taught how to make different necklines of a blouse, It was not an easy lesson but the students was at level and focus to understand everything teacher Myrtha taught to them. Thank you to all supporters, May God bless you all!

Tony



 

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Star Shop18 landerStar of Hope has projects in 15 countries around the world?


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Also every day, more than 12,000 children receive education and care through Star of Hope? Also, we touch over 30,000 children each day with services!

 

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