Friday, May 9, 2008

Angels of Naswak

By: Carl Carino Taawan
(Published by Star Eye, Zigzag and Cordillera Today)

Vanessa Maturana, a 26-year old accountant was one of the winners for this year's Lucky Summer Visitors or LSV in Baguio. LSV is a major annual event of the Baguio Broadcasters and Correspondents Club where lucky winners are given a 4 day red carpet treatment to the most interesting places in and around the City.

However, Vanessa decided to forego the offer for her philanthropic work in the remote place in Bokod called Naswak. Vanessa is part of a group of mountaineers called KIKKM Inc. They were on a mission to build a dormitory for young students in that remote Barangay.

The mountaineers adopted the said community in 2003 and had been conducting several projects like medical missions, relief operations, providing school supplies and learning materials, and emersion to the community for cultural awareness. The dormitory is one of their projects to address the problems of the school children in that community.

Elementary students as young as 7 have to trek the mountainous and dangerous paths for hours to get to school. With the hardship of the travel, many of the students can't regularly attend their classes. Some eventually stopped and just helped their parents at home. Many had to wait till they’re old enough to travel before they can back to school.

Project Coordinator Joffrey Geroso said,”The dormitory will serve as their temporary shelter thus they don't have to travel the long distances everyday. They will be spending more of their time to study in school, not on the trails. It will eventually help them improve their school records. This is a way to help students help themselves empower poverty thru education.”

The dorm will accommodate 50 students from grades one to six. It has a library and separate toiletries for girls and boys. “The dormitory with be located at the school premise and will be managed by the Parents and Teachers Association and the community”, Geroso said.

“Ground breaking last March 19, 2008 was the 1st phase” said Geroso. “We erected 2 posts and two more will be accomplished by the local community. “We are still on funds generation and solicitation for the said project. It still needs support from other organizations and funding agencies. Material costs double because of the hauling from Baguio to Bukod, Bukod to Petal, Petal to Upper Ekip and to Naswak.”

“We will be opening an account just for this project for those who want to donate”, the group’s president July Tadifa said. KIKKM Inc. is registered as a nonprofit organization at the Security and Exchange Commission with registration no CN200406487.

Ms. Maturana’s sacrifice to forego her VIP treatment has brought a more lasting reward. The gratitude of the people of Naswak. To this remote community, Vanessa and the KIKKM Inc. officers and members are indeed heaven sent. They are inviting other groups and individuals to participate in this project or initiate other sustainable development projects to the community.

For donations and more details, you may contact the following number:

Baguio Group Mario Abraham: 09178806254 / Rodel Mapa: 09193910398 / Kimberly Gaturian: 09275012088
Manila Group: Ian Abao: 09188744665 / Joffry Geroso: 09106219604 / Teresa Jimena: 09177858257

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