Photo: The girls are proud to show us a sample of the fishery harvest at our girls home campus.
Since we last shared a report from our programs on the island of Cebu, Philippines, our Children’s Hope Center participants enjoyed a Christmas celebration in December, which we want to update you about today. Thanks to your generous support in December, our faithful staff threw a Christmas party for the children enrolled in our Hope Center as well as the women and widows who benefit from our Cebu programs. Everyone was served a delicious feast of pork lechon (a popular Filipino dish which is a whole roasted pig stuffed with scallions, bay leaves, black peppercorn, garlic, salt, and lemongrass, cooked over charcoal made from coconut husks), pork chops, and soft drinks.
The children and women were thrilled to receive Christmas gifts – canned goods such as fruit cocktail, sardines, meatloaf, and noodles, and other items including soap, shampoo, sugar, soy sauce, milk, and Milo drinks (chocolate and malt powder which is mixed with hot water and milk). The children also enjoyed playing fun games together such as musical chairs, relay races, and bobbing for apples. The children and women enjoyed the Christmas party so much that it lasted from early afternoon until the evening.
The children started back to school in January — we currently have 40 children (ages 6-18) enrolled in our Children’s Hope Center after-school care program. The children are receiving fresh-cooked meals and tutoring for their school subjects of English, math, science, social studies, and physical education. When the children are not studying, they enjoy swimming and playing ball games together to relax and have fun.
We are happy to report that our native team harvested 44 pounds of mature fish from the large pond structure at our fishery which gave us a profit of $50 at market. We quickly sold out of our fish supply which is in high demand as they are known as the freshest, most delicious fish in the area. In addition, we recently added 3,000 fingerlings to the small pond structure at our fishery which we are feeding and raising to be harvested in March.
Thanks to your support, we were recently able to purchase 3 new aerators for our large pond and small pond at the fishery in order to keep the fish healthy. The aerators enhance both pond fish habitats, improving the water quality, reducing algae, removing phosphorus, breaking down unwanted bacteria, helping with mosquito problems, and removing foul odors from the ponds — all by circulating the water and adding dissolved oxygen. Now we are seeking to raise $164 to purchase 9 more aerators which will bring both pond fish habitats to maximum quality.
We are thankful that we were able to repair our piggery in September, a great improvement to our farmland enterprise. We carried out the repair by enforcing each side of the structure and the floor with concrete. This was timely as the new, stronger structure kept our pigs safe and with better health before we sold them at market.
Last year we raised pigs sporadically as funds were provided, but with the new improved structure, we hope to raise 18 at a time over 5-month periods this year. We have seen an average net profit of $56 per mature pig after deducting feed and vitamin expenses. We currently have only 1 pig living in our piggery, thus we are seeking to raise $2,627 in order to purchase 18 piglets and their 5-months supply of feed and vitamins to raise and sell at market when they are mature.
When these 18 pigs are sold, after subtracting expenses, we believe our local team will see a net profit of $1,008. While to Western eyes it may seem an insignificant return for so much work, in the local economy this represents about 3.5 months’ wages. Extrapolating this value of 3.5 months’ local Philippines wages into US average wages, the “local impact” parity would be similar to the impact $16,995 could make in the United States.
In other news, 3 of our goats escaped through a hole in the fence of our goat farm and thus were lost, but thankfully we found all 14 of our other goats and currently have them contained with a temporary patch to the fence at the farm. However, we need to securely repair the fence as soon as possible, so we are seeking to raise $1,444 in order to purchase 15 rolls of barbed wire, 25 pipes, and a welding rod, and also to pay for the labor costs.
Our banana grove continues to flourish with 103 trees which are harvested weekly — we currently harvest about 4-6 large bunches of bananas per week, which gives us an average weekly profit of $13. It may not seem like much, but our profits from banana sales quickly add up since we harvest them every week. Also, bananas are an important nutritional staple in our children’s diets, providing them with a great source of potassium and other nutrients.
To round out the good news from our farmland, in November we harvested 380 mature coconuts and 210 young coconuts and sold them at market for $106, which helps to supplement our Cebu programs since we harvest our coconuts quarterly. We are looking forward to another bountiful coconut harvest in April.
Lastly, back in July, some of our hens were stolen by dangerous locals who are jealous of our native team and their success. They have tried to intimidate our team through vandalism, and by previously poisoning our guard dogs. We placed a padlock on the gate to our hen house and we leave a light on at night, but we are in urgent need of security cameras that were destroyed by lightning during a severe thunderstorm. Thus, we are seeking to raise $1,235 to purchase 10 security cameras for the safety of our children, our native team, and our farmland enterprise.
Our field director reports: “We really thank the Lord for His grace and love bestowed upon us because the works here are increased and all of our programs and projects are good. Praise the Lord for the provision, and we are also thankful to all of you for the continued help and support to our programs and projects here in the Philippines.”
Take a Closer Look: view more photos from this project and others