ALL FACULTY and staff of Ateneo de Iloilo-Santa Maria Catholic School (ADI-SMCS) went to seven schools in Iloilo and Guimaras to help in the Brigada Eskwela campaign by the Department of Education last Thursday, June 2.
These schools were Tabucan Elementary School, Donato Pison Memorial Elementary School, Feliciana Java Kelly Memorial Elementary School, GK Sooc Sibol Day Care Center and Navais-Borres Elementary School, all in Mandurriao, Iloilo City. Also included were Andres Bonifacio Integrated School in Tanza, Iloilo City, Don Esteban Huntado Elementary School, and Sitio Kati-Kati Day Care Center in San Miguel, Guimaras.
The volunteers painted walls, plastic-covered books, repaired some school fixtures, and cleaned corners, fixtures and sheds in their assigned schools. They also brought books, toys, and school supplies for donation.
One school, NBES, specifically asked to hold a retreat for their teachers and staff. It was held in the ADI-SMCS High School Department with volunteer retreat facilitators led by the school’s Campus Ministry and Social Involvement (CMSI) Office.
"The initiative is part of our social obligation as a Jesuit institution that commits itself to be a school that forms responsible citizens ignited by love and service," said School President Fr. Joseph Haw, SJ, adding, “we put our words into action as this is the most concrete way of evangelization and of public service.”
Agnes Gatpatan, CMSI head, agreed, saying: "Our small success in Blue Spoon program is a proof that no effort is too small to make a difference. These small efforts done with great love can inspire children to continue going to school and to pursue their dreams despite difficulties.”
“In the Blue Spoon, we ask ourselves ano ang kayang marating ng piso mo (how far can your peso go)? Today, we ask ourselves ano ang kayang marating ng pawis mo (how far can your sweat go)? How can my unskilled hands in painting make a difference?"
The Blue Spoon, to note, is Ateneo de Iloilo’s four-year-old feeding program that has hundreds of beneficiaries from four partner elementary schools in the metropolis so far. Members of the community, including students, teachers, parents, and alumni, regularly donate through different Blue Spoon fund-raising initiatives which includes the Iggy Bank where students voluntarily chip-in part of their daily allowance in school. The collected money is then regularly turned over to the partner schools and their volunteer parents to prepare meals that feed nutritionally “wasted kids” while they attend classes in about eight-month duration.
The last time the school went for a “Brigada Eskwela” was two years ago when the team went to Kawayan National High School in Yolanda-hit Carles town in Northern Iloilo. The volunteers painted classrooms, covered books, and donated school supplies. Through the school’s initiative, four classrooms were also constructed for the high school students of Carles.
This year’s Brigada Eskwela has deployed nearly 200 personnel of the school spread out from seven learning institutions—all for the cleaning drive. Most of the volunteers were teachers, administrators, and office staff from the grade school, high school and central administration units.
Gatpatan shared: "The principals of the respective schools thought we will just deliver some donations. They were so shocked when we went there to paint, to clean their rooms, and to do other janitorial and carpentry jobs. In things like this, our presence is very important. Our presence can really make a difference in inspiring people to support our government on whatever way we can."
Outreach Coordinator Kent Zabalate, for his part, said: “We left the schools with some sense of satisfaction. The rooms were newly painted, clean, and well-arranged. The pupils need not exert much effort anymore to prepare their room. All they need is to be there and start the class, learn and enjoy school.”
“Our desire in our community is to strengthen the culture of generosity. We can't afford big scale project to help the government but we become part of a bigger effort through Brigada Eskwela. This is bayanihan in a concrete way.” (Herman Lagon)