A year ago, I learned some information about Streets to School (STS) from my very talented and skilled artist friend, Nicole Vergara (you should follow her at instagram at @nekithepainter to see her work and contact her at email@example.com) who had volunteered with them for quite some time. She told me about how her experience as a volunteer going to underserved communities had been very meaningful and fulfilling. STS at the time had their program only located in Manila. Throughout the year, they were able to expand their projects across the Philippines and now that Bliss is pursuing to support other organizations who we share the same values with, we got connected and had this meeting set up.
I am very honored and privileged to meet these two young ladies, Adrianne and Princess “Cess”, leaders from STS Ilocos Chapter. They gave me more history on STS’ conception and the visionary and compassionate person behind it, their founder, Qjiel Mariano. I was so blown away with how a high school community project of Qjiel’s to help young children with reading in low socioeconomic and underserved communities has continued on until now in a national level. It’s worth noting that the growth is undeterred as he is currently studying for his Bachelor’s degree in Nursing at University of Santo Tomas.
Qjiel’s leadership and determination is so incredible that it reinforces that young age is not a barrier to spark change. As I spoke to Adrianne and Cess, I could feel that they are just as passionate. Speaking about their ongoing projects and the impact it has for the children they work with was very touching.
STS’ Ladders to Literacy Program is an outreach program that caters to 6 to 12 year old kids in a pre-selected community. In the province of Pangasinan, they have identified and deemed Brgy. Balogo Pandel in Binmaley, Pangasinan the most in need of help. They have visited once there before to do storytelling, facilitate games, give snacks and also plan for giving school supplies for their next visit.
This was just so heartwarming! I got so excited because there was no doubt that Bliss can help and share resources to support their cause. Most of our current scholars are Education students and most of our graduate scholars are now Licensed Professional Teachers. Even before I discussed with them the details of what I knew about STS, they were already willing to volunteer to help. Even non-Education students of Bliss also agreed to volunteer.
I can’t help but look back years ago, when my friends Bryan, Rhoda, Sharine and I started to dream that someday we could give out school supplies to elementary school children. We had kept it in our thoughts, got enrollment numbers for the barangay’s we want to distribute them to so we could have an idea for cost and amount of money for fundraising. And here’s STS whom we can partner with to make it happen. What a blessing.
Thank you! And stay tuned for upcoming volunteer opportunities!