On Thursday 14th December we partnered with The Salvation Army to help disadvantaged families in South London. It was a huge team effort with employees from Learn to Trade, volunteers from the Salvation Army and volunteer friends and family who all helped in the organisation and throughout the day.
(Learn to Trade employees and volunteers helping to pack the hampers)
We kicked off at 9am and started packing 100 hampers with essential food items that will help these families through Christmas. These food items are the foods that push up your household food bill, so for us to help out at Christmas in what can be a very hard time financially anyway, is extremely important. Every family that had a child/children in their family also received a personalised present especially handpicked to suit their age group, wrapped and put into a gift bag.
(Food hampers ready to go… )
(presents ready to go)
By midday the deliveries started and this is when the real rewards began! To see the families faces light up as we knocked on the door is truly the most special moment. Some laughed with joy, some cried with joy but every single one of them were so thankful and it really does make you realise how hard life can be and how much of a difference these hampers and presents will make to them.
(Dean Russell ready to deliver presents)
We certainly recommend that if you have never done anything like this before, please do.
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Our beneficiaries listen to a lecture on “Filipino Values”
It is very important that when our beneficiaries move into the village, in less than a month, that they all have a deep understanding of respect for each other.
A lecture was taken by Professor Kareen Jay Lozada, and she emphasised to them all, that although they all come from different areas in Lemery, and have different backgrounds that, it is important they understand that the key to a harmonious relationship with each other will ultimately be respect for each other.
When they live together in the village they must all help each other, look out for each other and raise any concerns immediately.
This community have got to know each other well since the building project began. They have all been involved in different projects around the village and have had to work together, planting, decorating, building and cooking. It has been a fantastic way of them getting to know each other, so, we hope that the transition of moving into the village and actually living together comes naturally.
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The Christmas Tree Decorating Competition is well on its way!
Christmas preparations start as early as September in the Philippines, so it was no surprise to have the Christmas Tree decorating already started.
On Greg’s recent visit to the village, (a week ago!) he was amazed by some of these started creations. He pledged some cash prizes to the top three trees.
There are 5 groups taking part and the criteria is as follows:
The trees have to be decorated using recyclable items from the village and will be judged on:
Originality & Uniqueness 20%
Materials used 20%
Cooperation & Unity 30%
Overall Impact/Theme 30%
The first round of judging will be on 2nd December, with the final judging on 20th December, so that they have more time between dates to improve their trees!!
We will have a voting day shared on Facebook too – so please keep an eye out and make sure to cast your vote!
The announcement of the winners will be on Saturday 23rd December during the Christmas Party here in the village. Everyone has been invited: the beneficiary families, builders, workers, engineers and contractors.
Greg and his team have shown us how it can be done, all in just ONE WEEK! It is the pure passion in Greg that just comes naturally to him, to help everyone in his path and to help make a difference.
This is how his week unfolded …. On Monday the team left London Heathrow and flew to Dubai and then connected onto Manila. In Manila they were joined by our Ambassador, Ms Angelia Ong and they all flew on to Iloilo. After an overnight in Iloilo they then flew to Lemery and then drove to the GSF village.
On arriving at the village, there was a buzz in the air – Mr Secker is here. The beneficiaries followed Greg around the village, not letting him out of their sight! After a fantastic community lunch, cooked by the mothers of the village, the team were then entertained with dancing, games and a christmas tree decoration competition. Who was going to win 1st prize?
Whilst in the village, Greg was also being filmed for a pilot for a documentary which is about encouraging other successful entrepreneurs to integrate the gift of giving into their “business as normal”. If Greg can house 500 people .. there are certainly a lot more entrepreneurs out there who can do the same.
Meanwhile in the village, Dean and Angelia did some story telling. Dean had written a book for the children of the village and with Angelia’s help translating it into Filipino they soon had the children giggling away.
After spending a day and a half in the GSF village it was time for the team to visit the school that the Foundation have pledged to help for the next 10 years. Capanihan School is 2km from the GSF village. Over the next few months we will build toilet facilities, an ICT computer training centre, a playground, a full refurbishment of the entire school and full catering for the children.
It was time for the team to bid farewell to the community and set off back to Manila to join Bill and Tani Austin from the Starkey Hearing Foundation, where they helped fit hearing aids to children that were deaf. To assist in the giving of a gift of hearing was a very emotional day with many of the team in floods of tears as the child gave the thumbs up as he or she heard for the first time in their life.
The team had two more important visits to make before flying home – one was the House of Refuge Orphanage where Greg had sponsored the build of the medical centre, named after his late Grandmother, The Maud Clinic. They firstly stocked up with presents and then went and caught up with all the children. And secondly, to personally thank all the wonderful Learn to Trade employees who have raised a fantastic amount of money towards the construction of the village.
After five days it was time for the flight home …. Manila – Dubai – London.
“All in a week’s work!” – Greg Secker – you are a true inspiration to us all.
What an incredible week, – our head of GSF, Peter Cameron-Burnett and our Foundation Coordinator, Racquel Kiffin flew out to the Philippines to spend time at the Foundation village. So far this week, they have joined in with a Medical Mission and today they visited a small local school that GSF are to help repair and expand.
Wednesday 8th November, started with a beautiful sunrise, marking both a subo (sad) and nalipay (happy) day. Today marked the anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan, a sad day, but 4 years later, a happy day.
A Medical Mission was held for our beneficiaries where they received free medical and dental care. Medical personnel spent the day at the village volunteering their time to ensure that the community is well cared for, ensuring that they are healthy and happy. A day of remembering the past, but also looking forward to a brighter future…
The beneficiaries were so happy to also be joined by our Ambassador, Ms. Angelia Ong and her close friend, Ms. Michelle Gomez. They too spent the day showing their support, joining in with the party atmosphere of the day – and dancing with the parents and children!
A heartfelt thank you to everyone involved – our GSF team, led by DR our project coordinator, all our volunteers, the medical personnel and of course our beautiful Ambassador, Ms. Angelia Ong.
Waking up the next morning – was back to school day! The GSF team visited the small local school that we are to help rebuild. It lies about a mile from the Foundation village in the hamlet of Capinahan. The GSF team brought a few presents along to say hello! It’s a heart melting moment to see the reaction when you present the children with basics such as pens and pencils and simple toys. When you have nothing, even a little means a lot.
It was wonderful to meet the children at the local school, – the teachers are doing an amazing job supporting them. The repair and expansion works we are engaged in will go towards helping to give them a brighter future.
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What to do in an earthquake – an important lesson for our beneficiaries.
Proper preparation and knowledge can go a long way to reducing the impact of disasters. Figures show that every $1 invested in preparation can save up to $7 in repairs and recovery, not to mention countless lives. And that’s an important factor given that much of the time, the people who are hit hardest are those least able to recover from it. It is therefore, important that we help our beneficiaries to prepare, to reduce the impact of disasters when they occur.
This week, they had a lesson from Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, of Lemery – “What to do in an earthquake”. They all took part in several drills so that all the family members know what to do.
DUCK DUCK or drop down to the floor.
COVER Take COVER under a sturdy desk, table, or other furniture. If that is not possible, seek COVER against an interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms. Avoid danger spots near windows, hanging objects, mirrors, or tall furniture.
HOLD If you take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture, HOLD on to it and be prepared to move with it. HOLD the position until the ground stops shaking and it is safe to move.
When you feel an earthquake. DUCK under a desk or sturdy table. Stay away from windows, bookcases, file cabinets, heavy mirrors, hanging plants, and other heavy objects that could fall. Watch out for falling plaster or ceiling tiles. Stay under COVER until the shaking stops. HOLD onto the desk or table, if it moves, move with it.
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A lesson in waste management and recycling for our beneficiaries.
Every Saturday, whilst the children are in class, the parents are learning different topics. This week they learnt about Waste Management and Waste Disposal/Recycling. The speaker, Engr. Tom Laurea, is also one of our engineers on site. He was able to hold a very in-depth and interactive discussion about the correct disposal of plastic bottles, plastic bags and other waste products and the reasons behind why it needs to be done.
Engr Tom set a fun challenge for the families to encourage them to dispose of rubbish correctly. They were split into 5 groups and have to collect, “Trash in a bottle”. Each group member will have a used empty plastic bottle as a trash bin, and then all rubbish they pick up will be put inside the recyable plastic bottle. The most bottles (with rubbish inside) will receive a cash prize sponsored by Engr Tom himself. The competition will start this week and the final collection for recycling will be this December, where the bottles will be collected and used as building materials.
First prize: P1,000
Second prize: P700
Third prize: P500
Consolation prize: P200
The groups were eager to get started – what a great incentive to make sure the village is spotless and plastic is recycled!
It is very important to encourage our beneficiaries to recycle and dispose of waste correctly, especially today where plastic seems to be an ever growing problem in polluting our beautiful planet. Alarmingly, these statistics are rising year by year:
• Over 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide. Consider China, a country of 1.3 billion, which consumes 3 billion plastic bags daily, according to China Trade News.
* A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021. • About 1 million plastic bags are used every minute. • A single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to degrade. • More than 3.5 million tons of plastic bags, sacks and wraps are discarded yearly.
* Fewer than half of the bottles bought in 2016 were collected for recycling and just 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles. Instead most plastic bottles produced end up in landfill or in the ocean. • Only 1 in 200 plastic bags in the UK are recycled. • The U.S. goes through 100 billion single-use plastic bags. This costs retailers about $4 billion a year. • Plastic bags are the second-most common type of ocean refuse, after cigarette butts. • Plastic bags remain toxic even after they break down. • Every square mile of ocean has about 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it.
* Between 5m and 13m tonnes of plastic leaks into the world’s oceans each year to be ingested by sea birds, fish and other organisms, and by 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish.
The weekend brought some heavy rain but this wasn’t going to dampen the spirits of the children and parents.
The children were so keen to attend their Saturday class and the heavy rain was not going to stop them getting there! Some of the internal roads are not complete so they had to be extra careful as the paths had become very muddy and slippery.
Once indoors, they firstly studied their academic work and then were able to enjoy story telling, games …….
…….. and finally finishing with a video presentation.
Whilst the children were happy and content in class, the parents sat and listened to speakers from the Rural Health Unit of Lemery, Iloilo. The parents learnt about Health, Sanitation, Rabies, Self care and Disease. It is so important that when the beneficiaries move into the village that they are aware of day to day health and safety risks.
Such exciting news – the building construction of the FINAL 30 houses has begun. DR, our Project Coordinator, tells us that now the weather is beginning to brighten up, and the rain is not so consistent they have made some progress in the last week.
Road construction is also now underway, with the internal roads around the village nearly complete.
From these aerial shots of the roads and village, and with the sun shining down it really does look fantastic. Not long to go now – the beneficiaries must be getting so excited. Moving in day is getting closer and closer!
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The beneficiaries get together to decide the village rules….
It is very important that when our beneficiaries move into the village that they they all understand the do’s and don’ts in the village. With this in mind, we decided that they should implement these rules, not us, so last Saturday our village beneficiaries got together and split themselves into 7 groups. Each group then discussed what they thought the rules and policies should be in the village. It was a very interactive discussion and everyone shared their ideas and suggestions.
In the afternoon the Philippine National Police of Lemery attended and spoke to the village about Security, Peace and Order, prohibition of drugs and children welfare. They advised them on their rules that they had come up with in their groups and these will now be implemented into the village life.
Every family was given a certificate of attendance and the National Police were given a certificate of recognition from the Greg Secker Foundation for coming in and advising the families.
The rules decided were:
PEACE AND ORDER(Curfew, No shouting, No Karaoke sessions late at night
CLEANLINESS & BEAUTIFICATION(Proper waste disposal, every household to have their own rubbish bin, maintain the gardens)
VOLUNTEERING and ACTIVITIES(Organise fun activities such as Greg Secker Olympics, Organise and celebrate Halloween, Christmas and Town Fiesta)
MAINTENANCE / FACILITY(To maintain their properties to a high standard)
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