Three honor students were the first recipients of brand new laptops provided by the Palawenyo Savers’ Club (PSC) under the group’s Abot-Kamay project, a campaign to help deserving students cope with home-based schooling under the current pandemic crisis.
The students, selected from around 300 hopeful applicants throughout the province, received their laptops during a ceremony and media presentation Saturday at the VietVille Restaurant in Barangay Sta. Lourdes.
May Alldritt, Project Abot Kamay Coordinator, said they will continue to receive donations until the campaign officially ends on September 30, right before classes in most public schools begins.
Alldritt said the students passed a thorough validation after being shortlisted as recipients. Written applications were submitted to the PSC by either family members or students themselves
“Noong araw na binisita namin sila, doon kami nag-validate kung ano ang istorya ng buhay nila. Kung ano ang nakasulat, at kung ano talaga ang sitwasyon nila. Mayroon kaming mga nakita na hindi nakikita sa mga sulat lang. Lahat sila ay nagpakita ng values tulad ng hard work,” she said.
The students, Mark J.M. (incoming Grade 12), Raymond S. (incoming Grade 12), and Janille D. (incoming Grade 6) are all honor students who come from poor but hardworking families, according to Alldritt .
“Ang mga magulang ng mga batang ito ay masisipag, masisikap, at hindi umaasa sa kahit sino para itaguyod ang mga pangangailangan ng pamilya,” she said.
Mark is an aspiring electrical engineer whose mother runs a sari-sari store while his father is a security guard. He used to work part-time in construction and sell dried squid to support his family during the pandemic.
“Dati akong ume-extra sa construction. At minsan, naglalako rin ako ng pagkain para lang matulungan ko ang mga magulang ko,” he said.
Raymond is an aspiring animator and the youngest of three. His siblings have both finished schooling but have not yet started working due to the pandemic. His father, Raffy, admitted that he first thought of having Raymond enroll in the next school year because their family’s income was severely affected.
“Noong hindi pa naming nababalitaan ang Project Abot-Kamay, naisip naming tumigil muna si Raymond sa pag-aaral ngayong taon dahil hindi na talaga namin kaya,” he said. “Dati malaki talaga ang kinikita ko sa pagiging tricycle driver, ngunit ngayon, sapat lang talaga pang-pagkain lang.”
The youngest, Janille, was nominated by her older sister as a recipient. Her parents are both farmers who do not own land. Janille aspires to become a chef.
Any amount that is donated to the campaign is matched by the PSC with an additional 50 percent from its own funds.
The donations are also meticulously accounted and reported in its website projectabotkamay.wordpress.com which is updated on a weekly basis.
Its campaign website has reported donations of as little as P5 in private individual contributions, to amounts of over P10,000 from corporate and institutional donors.
As of September 9, the group has recorded a total donated funding of P610,298.66.
Some donors have also contributed digital tablets to the campaign, which will also be distributed to students.
“Mula piso hanggang kahit magkano ang kayang i-donate, the PSC is matching the donations with 50 percent of whatever amount is donated,” Alldritt said.
She added that they are hoping for more donations, specially from organizations and large groups, to come before September 30 “so we can reach out to as many students and teachers as we can.”
“We would like to reach out to groups, specially those who can mobilize support quickly using their social media pages, to partner with us in this project,” Alldritt said.
Selection of recipients
With hundreds of applications they have been receiving online, Alldritt said they are carefully evaluating each request to select the most deserving students.
“The recipients are shortlisted based on their submissions, which detail their current situation and academic aspirations,” she said.
Major donors, or those contributing at least P20,000 are allowed to submit their own shortlist of beneficiaries.
The validation of beneficiaries by Project Abot Kamay organizers include home visits or even consultations with parents and school authorities.
The PSC has planned a second batch of laptop distribution on the 2nd week of October, to be preceded by its distribution of face masks and alcohol.
Jumping a hurdle
“The objective of Project Abot-Kamay is to remove one hurdle for students by providing them with a laptop which they will need for the distance learning program this year,” the information of the project’s website stated.
Alldritt explained that of the total amount that will be pooled by the project, they will allocate a quarter of the funds to acquire face masks, face shields and alcohol that will also be given to teachers and schools.
The laptops purchased by Project Abot-Kamay are based on what’s available locally. For this batch, three units of Lenovo i5-1035G1 were purchased in Puerto Princesa City.