Davao teacher, friends initiate gadget donation drive for learners
Subscribe Now June 25, 2020 at 08:49am
Mars Panayaman, a member of The Mitsa Project, turns over donated school supplies to teacher Rey Estardo of Tambobong National High School where the students are mostly indigenous people from the Ovu Manobo and Obo Klata tribes. (Photo courtesy or Maria Gliceria Valdez)
“Because of the pandemic, we’ve heard some students say that they will not enroll next school year because they cannot attend online classes. Some even say that they do not have enough money to continue going to school because their parents lost their jobs,” said the 26-year-old high-school teacher and writer, Maria Gliceria Valdez.
Valdez teaches Literary Arts at the Davao City National High School. She and her high school friends Kyra Madrazo, Christine Barnuevo, and Clydin Marizze Panayaman decided to create The Mitsa Project (TMP).
“This crazy idea started when I bought a cellphone for my student who I know has struggled in school work even before the pandemic started,” she said.
She said this student could only afford to go to internet cafes to submit his requirements.
“During the pandemic, he told me that he will surely struggle this school year because there are no internet shops anymore,” Valdez said.
She said her student was among those who were most talented in writing, promptomh her to buy him a phone which he can use for his assignments. Her student is a son of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Qatar.
“When he posted his thank you post to us, his mother, an OFW from Qatar, commented that she was beyond grateful to us that his son now has a phone for his schoolwork. She also mentioned that she was supposed to give John a mobile phone but the pandemic left her unemployed and stranded in Qatar,” Valdez said.
“Then we realized that we are not only helping learners in their education, but we are also giving their families hope for a brighter future,” she added.
Valdez explained that they chose the word “mitsa,” the Tagalog word for “fuse” or a candle’s wick “as a symbol of sparking hope for these students in need and also of sparking the spirit of volunteerism among people whose donations, no matter how small, can help the learners in a big way.”
The TMP team has launched the #ShareAGadget donation drive for students who do not have the resources to attend online classes, and the Module Printing Service for learners who cannot access the modules online.
“These two services we offer are actually inspired by Eric Antenor from Paranaque and Malaya Genotiva, a friend of mine in college. We saw Mr. Antenor’s Facebook post of his “Share A Laptop” donation drive so we decided to contact him and ask for tips on how we can set up that same donation drive here in Davao City,” she said.
During their first few days, they personally picked-up donations. Later on, they partnered with Errand Titas Davao, a Davao-based delivery service, who offered to pick-up donations and deliver the donations to the TMP for free.
They now rent an office space in downtown Davao for the storage of donations and printed modules. The office also serves as a location for their meet-ups. For parents who could not pick up the modules, Valdez said they deliver it to their locations.
At present they were able to provide gadgets to two students who have been referred to them. They were also able to provide books, pencils, and other school supplies to two families in Sitio Lubihan in Catalunan Grande and to 30 students in Tambobong National High School in Davao City.
The TMP also partners with other groups and advocates whom they call as their “Kapwa-Mitsa” (fellow spark).They recently partnered with Julieto Dalagma, a Matigasalug who created “Isang Lapis at Papel Para sa Aking Tribu” to provide school supplies for members of the Matigsalug tribe in Marilog, a far-flung area in Davao. They also collaborated with Icon Elites Artist Management, a talent agency and Amare Davao, a beauty product and mobile phone shop.
Valdez said they only plan to carry out the project until August before school starts.
“We might not be as active after August, since we will be really busy with our day jobs by then, but we will continue to have yearly donation drives or community service,” she said.
Valdez said, for now, they will work to “keep the flames of hope alive for these learners.”
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