Monday, February 1, 2016

Yellow Boat Of Hope

I am highlighting a feature story where some children had to swim their way to school to get an education. This article was published in theSun today.  

Headline : The Yellow School Boat
By Bissme S

Going to school was not easy for the children of Zamboanga City in the Philippine district of Mindanao. Up to 2010, they had to literally cross the river on foot with their schoolbag,  that contained not only their books but also their school uniform and shoes, over their heads to get to school. Once they reached the other side, they had to change out of their wet clothes into their uniform and shoes, and put the wet clothes wrapped in a plastic bag into their schoolbag. And they had to do this every day to and from school.
When philanthropist Jay Jaboneta (below) first visited this community, he was impressed by the children’s determination to get an education despite all the obstacles they had to face. He posted their story in his Facebook and it created some interesting discussion between him and his friends. They then decided to collect money and buy a boat that could ferry these children to and from school so that the children would no longer get wet going to school.
Jay had the boat painted yellow (bottom) because he wanted the boat to resemble the colour of the yellow schoolbus that one sees in movies.
“Both of them have the same function,” he says.
“Their aim is getting the children to school. The only difference is that one travels on the road and the other travels on water. Yellow is also the colour of hope.”
Their contribution did not end with one boat for one community. Jay and his friends went on to create the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, and over the last five years, the foundation has presented some 2,000 of these yellow boats to more than 50 communities in the Philippines.
“One story that truly touched me was [about this] boy who was placed second in his class … but since [getting the boat to go] to school, he [is now the top student] in his class,” says Jay.
 “We never imagined that one day, a single Facebook status and a single yellow boat would launch thousands of [such] boats and even inspired other organisations to start their own school boat projects.”
Jay firmly believes that every individual can make positive changes in society.
“The great thing a little lamp can do which the big sun cannot is to give light at night,” he says.
“It shows no one is superior by size. If we cannot do great things, we can do small things in a great way. “In my eyes, all our volunteers in the yellow boat [project] are ordinary heroes who strive to make a difference in their specific communities.”
 The foundation has since building classrooms, schools and dormitories for those children who not only have a hard time getting to school but are also studying in dilapidated classrooms or even under a tree! As Jay says, they want to create a comfortable environment for these students to study in comfort.
 For him, the biggest challenge he faced running the foundation is raising the funds needed to help all the needy communities.
“Our approach is volunteer driven and it is also quite hard to find local volunteers who can implement our projects on the ground. We are looking at raising enough funds to pay people to work for us and make our work more sustainable.”
 Jay says there are 7,107 islands in the Philippines and the Department of Education has identified more than 1,000 communities where children may need either boats or other forms of transport such as bicycles to get to school.
“I believe it was Nelson Mandela who said education is the best weapon which you can use to change the world,” says Jay.
“Education allows those who live at the bottom of the economic pyramid to gain access to opportunities so that they can provide for themselves and their families. It is our undying hope that one day there will be no child left behind and all children of school going age who want to go to school are in school.”

For more, go to http://

Going to school without getting wet 

Children has to swim to school

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