“Adopt a tree” – HUGPONG’s first eco-friendly activity

HUGPONG, our local group gathering volunteers' organizations, participated into a tree planting activity last Saturday. The Mayor of Don Salvador Benedicto invited HUGPONG organization to join a project called “Adopt a tree”. The municipality has indeed designed an environmental program designed to promote forest preservation in a participatory approach. It is dedicated to ensure a fresh, pollution-free and cool environment for every inhabitant in Don Salvador’s area.

The tree planting activity encourages the local community to engage itself for the protection of the environment. Indeed every interested person has the opportunity to support the city’s eco-friendly program with the symbolic “purchase” of a tree to be planted in a designated area. The current area is located along the road going to San Carlos (western coast of Negros Island), which is approximately an one-hour drive from Bacolod City.

As a not-for-profit organization, HUGPONG has been offered one of the pine trees to be planted during the first ceremony held on September 14th. The second batch of trees will be planted next December. Nearly one hundred people attended to witness and/or participate into the tree planting activity. The trees had been purchased for one thousand pesos (€17) by individuals, companies, associations as a donation dedicated to the protection of the environment. It showed the commitment of the community members to preserve the nature and the eco-system and raise awareness on this sensitive issue. As a member of Hugpong, HOST-NGO joined the event along with local volunteers from LEAD (League for Environmental Advocate for sustainable Development) and Warriors for Peace. The students association of Saint La Salle University and the Artists Association of Bacolod also planted their own trees. A total of 50 trees were planted by the participants. The formal ceremony was followed by a friendly lunch organized by the Mayor in a building owned by the Department of Education (DepEd) in Don Salvador.


A sustainable partnership with PEACE CORPS

Since the departure of Daniel, our former Peace Corps volunteer who dedicated eight months of his mission within the SDC, we were impatient to hear about her or his successor. Her name is Terry and she will join us in Bacolod City in a few weeks only. We will publish a detailed profile as soon as she has settled down.

As an historical background, the Peace Corps were established in 1961 by Senator John F. Kennedy with the initial goal of promoting peace and friendship. He called on American youth to give back to their country by living and working in developing countries. The Peace Corps’ mission has the following objectives: helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women, and helping promote better mutual understanding of the Americans and the communities served. Peace Corps Philippines is the organization’s second oldest program. Back in 1961, there were 130 volunteers assigned in the Philippines as teachers of English language, mathematics and science. As of today, over 8,000 volunteers have served in the Philippines in broader fields. The ultimate purpose of Peace Corps is to foster world peace and friendship through cross-cultural contact and collaborative development efforts.

Bacolod City, with the support of Virlanie Foundation and HOST-NGO [via the People-Private-Public Partnership], successfully requested last year the assignment of a Peace Corps volunteer to support the SDC. Daniel has been the first volunteer to join the programme under implementation within the frame of our SDC project. His main responsibilities were to ensure the sound implementation of the activities at SDC, while sharing his expertise in the field of psychological support. Along with our team, the Peace Corps volunteer aims at fulfilling the needs of the most vulnerable kids based on the most efficient and sustainable approach.

Upon Daniel’s return to the US, it was essential to assign a new volunteer whose mission inside the SDC is important for the time being. Terry has been assigned by Peace Corps organization and after a three-month training in the Philippines, she will arrive to Bacolod City around September, 19th. We are looking forward to meeting her and introducing her to our beneficiaries and to her new teammates!

Daniel with one of our beneficiaries at the SDC


The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) partners with SDC in Bacolod City

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is a public institution dedicated to protect human rights, which shall be guaranteed by the Philippines Constitution itself. It holds two different mandates: to investigate in the case of suspicion of human rights violation, and to run information and education public campaigns to address the issue of human rights protection. 

It is within this frame that the CHR in Bacolod City has decided to organize activities designed to improve child rights protection within the SDC starting this month. Upon meeting the team and beneficiaries of the Social Development Center, the CHR representative in Bacolod City, Mr. Romeo Baldevarona, showed a great interest to help dealing with the issues faced by the children as well as their families. 

His team will hold awareness sessions for the children at the SDC to help them understand their rights for protection, in an attempt to reduce the risks of abuse, violence, or traffic that might affect them. The Commission will also address the children’s families to empower them in their capacity to protect their children’s interest as best as they can. In addition, the staff of SDC will also have the opportunity to participate into seminars on child rights protection to be applied in special care institutions, such as the Social Development Center. This capacity building objective is directly linked with the goal of sharing skills and experience between the local actors involved in child care. The expected outcome should allow the enhancement of the services provided by the SDC, which will better match the individual development of each and every child.

At last, but not least, the CHR has committed to offer legal support to the children in conflict with the law and their families, who might need specific assistance to understand the legal proceedings and be able to assert their rights as minors or legal representatives of the child. This comprehensive range of services proposed by the CHR will help building a major partnership, along with the existing actors involved for several months already. We are looking forward to witness very soon the achievements in terms of child rights promotion and respect to result from this new collaboration!


GlobalGiving team visits us in the Philippines

HOST-NGO has recently become a member of GlobalGiving community upon succeeding the fundraising challenge last April. GlobalGiving works closely with their members to ensure optimal transparency and reliability for each one of the projects promoted via the GlobalGiving online platform. Every other year, a team of volunteers is sent on the field to visit all the member organizations of its community. In addition, GlobalGiving provides online fundraising tools, one-on-one strategic support, and the opportunity to connect with a vast network of individual donors and corporate partners, including Nike, Dell, HP.

This year, the Philippines were on the agenda of GlobalGiving team. HOST-NGO received a few weeks ago the visit of two young volunteers representing GlobalGiving. We spent two days introducing them with our organization, touring them around the city of Bacolod, and showing them our projects and beneficiaries. Ana and Sandra, future graduates of Georgetown University, Washington DC, were assigned by GlobalGiving to visit all the partners based in the Philippines and report on their project as well as assist them to enhance their sustainability. Our team brought them on the field to better understand our activities and the issues at stake for the vulnerable youth and disadvantaged communities.

In Bacolod City, a workshop was also organized by GlobalGiving volunteers with the support of our team. The objectives were to train new organizations on how to expand their network, engage relationship with donors, and develop a successful online fundraising strategy. A dozen participants representing eight different non-profit organizations (Ikaw-Ako, CheckMySchool, Sustained Actions, Federation of Urban Poor in Negros Occidental, ALDC, NOBCP, Negrense Volunteers for Change Foundation, HOST-NGO) joined the workshop and shared their experience and aspirations in the field of community development. It was a great opportunity to network with new potential partners while revising our fundraising strategy to be more successful!

HOST-NGO team and beneficiaries would like to thank GlobalGiving, in particular Sandra and Ana, who were eager to meet us and provide their support and feedback for the benefit of the local communities in need. We hope to meet them again soon!


Significant support from the Fondation Ensemble!

A partnership agreement has just been finalized with the Fondation Ensemble (http://www.fondationensemble.org/) with the intent to offer a financial support of €12,000 for 2013-2014 dedicated to the rehabilitation project led by HOST-NGO at the Social Development Center (SDC).

The Fondation Ensemble is a private foundation, state-approved in France since its establishment in 2004. Its mission is to promote a sustainable human development, i.e. integrating environmental protection, in every supported project. The Foundation is involved in six intervention sectors, under the sign of sustainable development: water, sanitation, sustainable agriculture, renewable energies, eco-habitat, and biodiversity conservation. In partnership with NGOs and funding organizations, the Foundation supports projects in direct relation to the needs of the populations: projects with measurable impacts over time and which promote local capacity building, and innovative projects whenever the context allows it.

This new partnership will enable to fulfil the following objectives:
1. To improve access to water and sanitation to fit child rights policies in terms of health protection and overall well-being;
2. To adapt the water systems to the actual needs of the children and to environmental constraints;
3. To increase nutrition and food security (involving proper food production and consumption processes) in order to reduce major diseases in link with poor water and waste management (mainly food-borne and water-borne diseases);
4. To reach financial sustainability throughout the management of natural resources and eco-friendly livelihood alternatives;
5. To reach environmental sustainability thanks to the implementation of an eco-friendly approach in the whole functioning of the SDC;
6. To prevent and raise awareness on major environmental issues.
Direct beneficiaries of this project are the children catered at the SDC, mainly the street children and the youth in conflict with the law. The center accommodates over 500 children every year. This intervention will also address the local staff working at the SDC, including both educational and administrative teams, i.e. an average of 30 employees.

On behalf of the community of Bacolod CityPhilippines, we would like to warmly thank the Fondation Ensemble for its commitment toward the vulnerable youth! We hope to be welcoming their team members on the field in order to introduce them with the beneficiaries of the project and show them the significant impact of their support.


Rotary Club to support our beneficiaries in the Philippines

The Rotary Club of Bacolod North invited HOST-NGO team to present its organization and program last Wednesday (May 15th) thanks to the introduction from a member of the club. Sara Vial, Co-Founder and Social Development Manager of HOST-NGO and Ton-Trong Ho, Co-Founder President and Program Manager of HOST-NGO, explained to a dozen members of the club, including the ongoing Vice-President and incoming President, the purpose of our activities in the Philippines. Following that presentation, a discussion related to partnership opportunities was held.

The idea of partnering with Rotary Clubs was raised since our team met and became friends with a few Rotarians from Bacolod City. We also got the chance to meet with the upcoming President of the Rotary Club of Bacolod Central, which led us to think of partnering with the club. 

This collaboration could help us grow our network of partners, as well as enhance the support we are offering to the vulnerable children and communities in the Philippines. It is indeed a great opportunity since Rotary Club has representatives all around the world. In Bacolod City, there are already eight clubs and there are over 500 clubs nationwide, i.e. over 17,000 Rotarians.

On Friday, May 17th, our program managers were invited to introduce our organization in front of all the incoming Presidents of the Rotary Clubs from Bacolod City and its surroundings. Each club is now considering how its members could involve into our projects as part of their respective community service program. We will soon propose to the clubs a list of needs to be fulfilled and the relevant activities which could be implemented with their support. 

This seems to be the beginning of a strong and sustainable collaboration!


Proposition of partnership with Enfants du Mekong (EDM)

Enfants du Mekong (EDM) is a French non-profit organization offering support to extremely poor children and families who live in South East Asia. EDM aims at educating, training and following children and youth in order to allow them to improve their living conditions and to facilitate their intellectual, emotional and psychological development. Its intervention is focused on seven countries: Vietnam, Thailand, Lao, Myanmar, Cambodia, China and Philippines. The support is based on individual sponsoring dedicated to help the children and youth to cover education expenses. EDM also proposes a collective sponsoring plan designed to support a school, a family unit, or a group of children. In terms of implementation, EDM allocates the sponsoring funds to different programs run by its local representatives. As of today, there is a total of 60,000 children under support from EDM and over 21,000 being sponsored by the organization.

Beginning of April, HOST-NGO formulated a partnership proposal to EDM in order to reinforce the support offered at the SDC. Following our proposition, Marie, the local coordinator for Negros area, came to visit the SDC project in Bacolod City. Marie was able to meet with our team as well as SDC's local team, in particular with Paolo, one of the two social workers in charge of the individual follow-up of the children in conflict with the law.

We also discussed about details related to the possibility of setting-up individual and collective sponsoring schemes. Two types of support have been requested so far to EDM: a school sponsorship for children and youth exiting SDC and reintegrating their families, and a collective sponsorship dedicated to fund the educational and social activities within the SDC. It seems that the first proposition would be the easiest to implement according to the current strategy of EDM. However, the local coordinator of EDM still needs to report on her on-field visit to her managers, prior to reaching any concrete agreement. We are all hoping that the partnership comes to a reality within the end of the year!


Meeting with Amnesty International Philippines

Amnesty International1 has been working since the 1980's as an advocate, lobbyist and educator on human rights in the Philippines. The 2013 strategy of Amnesty International in the Philippines will focus on the organization of campaigns addressing the following four topics: the arms trade treaty, the maternal health & sexual reproductive rights, the migrant workers, and the Philippine human rights agenda.

In the province of Negros Occidental, the most common violation relates to poverty, which opposes the most basic human rights of equal well-being. Many organizations are striving to fight this critical appraisal and prevent further violation of human rights. Amnesty International dedicates its activities on raising awareness of the communities on their rights and empowering them to claim their recognition.

On Negros Island, the most active group is based in Iloilo City. The activity has recently decreased in Bacolod City but Amnesty International (AI) team is trying to revive it. Mr. Dennis M. Febre, local coordinator for the region of Visayas, is responsible for developing the local networks of members and following-up on their activities. AI team is currently recruiting new members in Bacolod City to run the campaigns. Members of AI in Philippines shall pay annual membership fees, which allows them to benefit from AI internal resources. The fees range from 50 to 500 Pesos according to the income level of the members.

HOST-NGO is currently considering the possibility of partnering with AI in Bacolod City in order to optimize its intervention in terms of childrights protection and community rehabilitation. The idea would be to mutually share skills and resources with AI local team to follow a common path.

For more info, check the following links:

1 Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights to be respected and protected for everyone.


HUGPONG to launch 2013 activity program

Last Friday, February 22nd, Hugpong group members gathered to review last year's activities and plan 2013 program. A dozen organizations, both local and international, joined the meeting: Ikaw-Ako, LEAD Volunteer, Peace Corps, AYAD, Warriors for Peace, OISCA, IPON, Sanaaw, Greenheart Hermitage, Mud House Building, Virlanie Foundation, HOST-NGO. The members discussed the strategy and mission of Hugpong in order to adopt a common and relevant approach. The core values and objectives will be defined and agreed in a mission statement to be approved by all members.

Hugpong is dedicated to promote volunteerism in the Philippines and provide an opportunity to any volunteers' organization to communicate on its projects and activities. Its final goal is to encourage the sharing of skills and experience for a more sustainable and effective intervention. The group is now open to any type of organization, which is active in Negros Island and agrees on Hugpong's mission statement. Religious organizations can also join upon the condition that they respect the religious policy and views of the group and its members. Regular meetings dedicated to plan activities and events will be organized and hosted by each member organization. The members will also vote for their president, secretary and treasurer at the next meeting.

Upcoming events include the Sports Festival in Patag (March 3rd), Glow Fundraiser in Bacolod City (March 8th), Panaad sa Negros Festival in Bacolod City (April 8-14th). Hugpong members will decide on how to best organize their participation into these events. Next meeting of the group will be held on March, 15th.

For more information or to follow Hugpong's activities, check out the Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/HugpongVolunteersUnitedForNegros


Mud house building with LEAD Volunteer

LEAD Volunteer (League for Environmental Advocate for sustainable Development) is a local non-governmental organization, which has been founded in the Philippines in 2003. Its mission is to increase the sharing of skills and talents, promote voluntarism toward sustainable ideal community-building projects, and build a regional and international network of volunteers. LEAD Volunteer initiates projects and initiatives, which directly or indirectly aim at preserving the environment.
Their areas of intervention include: youth empowerment (rescue team and campus organization), environmental campaign and development (campus nursery and marine protected areas), community sectoral organizing (fisherfolk and farmer's organizational support), culture and arts (artist and event organizing), agrarian reform (beneficiaries organizational capacity building assistance), mud house projects (promotion and technology transfer), and emergency response capacity building.

Since 2012, LEAD Volunteer has been involved at the Social Development Center (SDC) to support the children at risk in collaboration with Bacolod City and Virlanie Foundation. The organization is currently deploying volunteers to organize weekly music activities (drums) and it has been planned to provide the children with art therapy activities in a near future.

HOST-NGO has been recently considering the opportunity to work closer with LEAD Volunteer and possibly build a long-term partnership to act locally in the Philippines. The objective would be to jointly design and implement community-based projects based on a sustainable and eco-friendly development approach. As part of this future collaboration, HOST-NGO volunteers have recently participated into a mud house building seminar conducted by Ms. Marisol Alquizar, an active member of LEAD Volunteer.

The mud house construction is a particularly great process in terms of sustainability and environmental protection. It only requires simple natural materials: soil digged from the earth, mixed with water and sand, and added up with paddy or hay orany dried fiber or even recycling garbage. Natural resources like cement, rocks, metal from the mountains, and wood from the forests are not to be used. This technology is based on the use of easily renewable resources, which is not altering the ecosystem and the environment in general.

Mud house building also represents an undeniable asset for disadvantaged and or indigenous communities living in rural areas. These houses can be built in a few weeks on a very low investment, and would last fifty or even a hundred years.

Mud house building could definitely be considered as part of a rehabilitation program, within the frame of HOST-NGO's intervention in the Philippines and around the world.


UNILEVER donates hygiene supplies to SDC

The local community of Bacolod City is increasing its involvement to support the most disadvantaged children. We would like to particularly thank UNILEVER corporation for its generous donation of hygiene supplies (soap, shampoo and toothpaste) addressed to the children of the Social Development Center (SDC) in Bacolod City. We would like to take the opportunity to thank the local organization, LEAD Volunteer, who has facilitated the donation process.
Thanks to UNILEVER's support, the SDC will be able to cover the hygiene supply for 50 children on a daily basis over a total duration of two months. We are hoping to maintain this partnership on a longer period of time.