In the coastal community of Baseco in Tondo, Manila, utilities like electricity and water are not guaranteed luxuries. Children and adults are prone to skin rashes and other illnesses due to extreme heat, poor sanitation, and lack of ventilation and clean drinking water.
Fortunately, there are young leaders in Baseco Compound who are quick to put their thinking caps on to address these problems. These “child leaders” are honed in the ING Learning Center (ILC) of Dutch financial institution ING Bank. Their solution: practical science.
SCIENCE IN THE SUMMER
Elementary to college students from the ILC, regularly tutored by ING employee volunteers in coordination with World Vision, gathered for the first-ever ILC Science Fair during the summer months.
Grade 9 students Nicole Andrea and Arif John created a fan-and-light gadget made out of recycled materials and powered by a single AA battery for 12 hours, a low environmental impact design which is ideal for the students’ bedside. Another group of young inventors produced a 2-in-1 insecticide and purifier made of olive oil, citronella, and charcoal to help repel mosquitoes and houseflies in their neighborhood.
“We challenged the kids to think of a problem in their community and solve it through science. The invention should be highly useful, replicable, and sustainable,” said Reuben Estrada, assistant vice-president at ING Bank’s Manila Branch who conceptualized the science fair. The children were given a budget of P2,000 per group and received advice from employee volunteers of ING Bank’s Manila Branch and ING Business Shared Services, Inc. and teachers.
For the Baseco youngsters, however, it was not just about discovering the world of science, but also exploring new means of livelihood to help their families.
Seventh-grader Gerald and 10th grader Hazel Joy showcased a homemade vending machine that dispenses healthy local drinks such as coconut juice. They shared the top prize with the fan-and-light duo group and bagged laptops and other premium educational items.
For the bank, the science fair was an important exercise for the ILC’s “child leaders,” who in this model pass on age-appropriate lessons in math, English, and reading to younger learners of the same background, as well as actively participate in barangay-based child welfare activities.
“In this program, aligned with UNICEF’s global initiative for quality education, we’re choosing the future leaders. Fun summer endeavors like this test their aptitude and intelligence, giving them an avenue to pick each other’s brains, work hard, and find practical solutions to some everyday problems in life,” Mr. Estrada explained.
A CHILD FOR OTHERS
The young inventors were chosen from the bank’s growing pool of child leaders. Since it started in 2005, the ILC has supported 12 scholars and 24 child leaders.
The first to graduate from college under the program is Cas, currently in her senior year at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila taking up Human Resource and Office Management. Her father is a tricycle driver while her mother runs her own sari-sari store. With the bank’s scholarship, she is able to ease her parents’ financial burden of raising and sending five children to school.
For school year 2017-2018, the ILC is sponsoring 10 Baseco scholars in high school and college. Exclusively offered to child leaders and ILC alumni, the scholarship program enables underprivileged kids to study in Letran College, Manila Science High School, Sta. Rita High School, and the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) for high school, and in the Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, Far Eastern University, University of the Philippines, and UST for college.
“Our purpose at ILC is to raise a generation of winners and go-getters in school and life, and to keep the cycle of inspiration and hard work in the children’s studies despite all the odds,” said Dom Gavino, chief administrative officer of ING Bank, N.V., Manila Branch and treasurer of the ING Foundation, the bank’s social responsibility arm.
Employee volunteers are a crucial piece of the puzzle; they help track and report the scholars’ performance and progress and also act as big brothers and sisters to the wide-eyed dreamers.
Volunteers take turns tutoring the children one Saturday morning a month. “Their mentoring sessions also cover tips on good study habits, time management, and career or college education advice,” Mr. Gavino added. Volunteers organize art workshops, sports clinics, and science fairs for the kids.
And as it takes a whole village to raise a child, the child leaders’ parents and guardians themselves lend a hand at ILC, participating in parents’ effectiveness seminars and maintaining cleanliness at the learning facility.
“Bringing a leader out of every child is a critical ingredient to ensure a better life for them and their families. We at ING Bank seek to give them a fighting chance in life, not just through funding, but a sustainable program that brings out the fire of active mentoring and excellence in them,” said ING Bank Country Manager Consuelo Garcia.